When I went to school in NZ, we had no TV, and so we played games like Monopoly. We were a musical family and on Saturday nights we had a talent quest or one of us organised a show. From the other side of the world I had certainly heard of the “British invasion” – the term for the pop groups of the day. I got into a band myself and learning their songs was expected.
So when I went to London in 1980 it all proved real. Getting dispatched to jobs from Ambulance Control was like they were using a Monopoly board.
Then our Chelsea station did a social trip to Dagenham to a pub where a band called The Tremeloes were playing. “How dare some local lads call themselves the same name as one of my favourite bands” I said to our organiser. I was persuaded to be sociable and so I went.
Well this band poked into the pub corner started off with a Tremeloes hit and sounded and looked like them. Gobsmacked I yelled at my workmates “This is The Tremeloes”. They all laughed saying “how come you have heard of them?” The band heard this and said “You sound like a Kiwi. We are number 1 over there. Would you like a request?” So I rattled off all their hits and my workmates were speechless.
There are so many things I loved about London. I have London pictures etc in my house. When Pete puts his nostalgic posts on here, my tears raise the Thames each time.
But there’s another part of London that’s unique and that’s its music.
A good question to ask is how many songs there are? Thousands. I will rattle off some and you can look them up yourselves or comment on your own favourites – and there will be many of all genres.
A Foggy Day in London Town by Gershwin, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Vera Lynn, Any Old Iron by Harry Champion, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, Burlington Bertie from Bow by Herbie Flowers, Carry On London by Billy Cotton, Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace, Dark Streets of London by The Pogues, Dedicated Follower of Fashion by The Kinks, Donald Where’s Your troosers by Andy Stewart (“I went down to London Town I had some fun in the underground”), England Swings by Roger Miller, Finchley Central by New Vaudeville Band, In A Golden Coach by Billy Cotton, Itchycoo Park (Little Ilford Park) by Small Faces, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Kew Gardens by Ralph McTell, Knees Up Mother Brown, Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Rd by Albert Chevalier, The Lambeth Walk, Last Night in Soho by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Last Train to London by ELO, London Bridge is Falling Down, London‘s Burning, London Pride by Noël Coward, Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner by Hubert Gregg, Old Father Thames, Paddington Bear by Bernard Cribbins, Petticoat Lane by Stanley Holloway, Puttin’ on The Ritz by Irving Berlin, Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues, Streets of London by Ralph McTell, Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, Werewolves of London, West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys, When the Lights Go Up in London by Hubert Gregg, The Wombles, (lots of songs about Piccadilly & Soho)
Then there are military band items like London Calling by Eric Coates, Birdcage Walk, Down the Mall, Knightsbridge and the Yeoman of the Guard by Gilbert & Sullivan.