Peaches Arpege, New York
have a ukulele
taught myself to play.
tuned it to the dial tone
the key of A.
followed the instructions
audiotape and book
practised in the mirror,
get that Formby look.
practise every morning.
practise every night.
all these sessions
playing is alright.
I bring my uke to parties,
wear a vintage frock.
sing nineteen thirties pop tunes
see the soiree rock.
tried my hand at music
the fear I'd fail.
gives me so much pleasure
hear that ukulele wail!
'cause school's behind me
learning is not done.
play my ukulele
was coming out of danceband king Jack Hylton's ears, when
his vocalist ducked a recording session of 'The Old Kitchen
Kettle', and left him stewing on the backburner...but
George Formby stepped in,
to get him out of hot water.
was 1932, and a relatively unknown Formby 'ghosted' the
vocal refrain, for which - despite his later fame - he
never received a credit on the Decca label.
recounted this to me, during one of several meetings I
had with her, around Easter 1959, when I was researching
George's biography for an intended 'This Is Your Life'
programme, for Shirley McNab, of the BBC.
said that George and her were visiting Decca's Vauxhall
Bridge Road, headquarters, to arrange some recording dates,
when they bumped into Jack Hylton - literally - as he
was rushing out of the same sessions studio door, that
they were on the point of entering.
was hopping mad, and pretty near to blowing a gasket about
being left in the lurch, without a singer, so I leapt
in, and said: 'Oh my George can do that'", Beryl, gleamed,
triumphantly. "And George didn't mind: he just went ahead
and sung the refrain, without his ukulele.
never counted it as a 'Formby' number", mused Beryl, "because
George did it, just as a bit of fun, and that's how we
look back on it.
be perfectly truthful, George and I forgot all about it,
but Jack Hilton obviously didn't, and all three of us
have been the best of pals ever since."
elegant and imperious 'first lady', Beryl, was prone to
be met - during the Forties and Fifties - doing her favourite
'thing'...shopping in Manchester's Saint Anne's Square,
and adjacent King Street: She loved it!
incognito, she also enjoyed taking coffee, at the Kardomah
Cafe: either the one in Saint Anne's Square, or the other,
half-way up Market Street (which I regret to say, now
appears to have been replaced by a MacDonald franchise).
power behind the Formby throne, she dressed like a Fylde
Coast dowager, and loved to supplement her extensive wardrobe
- of sable wraps, full-length ranch mink furs, and stoles,
peacock feathered hats, belted Cashmere coats, and elegantly
tailored fitted costumes, and cocktails dresses - visiting
elite shops, such as Marshall and Snelgrove, in the famous
square, and was often to be seen, shopping in the then
exclusive Kendal Milne, department store, on Deansgate.
she died, on Christmas Day, 1960, Beryl left more than
£35,000, in platignum, and gold-mounted diamond rings
and custom-made Cartier jewellery, in addition to a massive
wardrobe, and shoe collection - plus a range of the most
expensive French perfumes - the envy of any royal.
she treated herself frequently, because she felt - as
they say, in the modern television commercial - she was
'worth it'...and, by George, she was!
can contact Gerry George at Gerry_George@btinternet.com