“Rice pud, very good, what's it all about,
Made it in a kettle and they couldn't get it out,
Everybody took a turn to suck it through the spout,
In the old bazaar in Cairo.”
I used to have a Clinton Ford album called ‘Big Willie Broke Jail Tonight’ which I bought in a jumble sale in Roehampton, more for its salacious title, it has to be said, than for any reason of potential quality. Until now I had thought him to be a Country singer and not the man behind the comic songs ‘Fanlight Fanny’ and ‘The Old Bazaar in Cairo’.
For some reason, the latter song has been rattling around in my head lately. They used to play it regularly on ‘Family Favourites’ when I was child and I could only remember random lines. On a whim I did a Google search today and found the complete lyrics, written by Charlie Chester, comedian and radio presenter, in conjunction with Clinton Ford and someone called K Morris.
The song would probably be considered to be borderline racist for a modern audience, presenting a comical view of items one may conceivably purchase in an Egyptian bazaar e.g. ‘Sand bags, wind bags, camels with a hump/Fat girls, thin girls, some a little plump/Slave girls sold here, fifty bob a lump/In the old bazaar in Cairo.’
However, I’ve never been one to be cowed by political correctness. If anything, it’s an exercise in timing and rhyming schemes which succeeds remarkably well.
Why, you may well ask, am I banging on about an old song that nobody’s heard of, the answer to which is that it’s precisely because it is an old song that nobody’s heard of, and it’s rather good. Why do these things get forgotten?
I enjoin you to seek out this song. It might not be your cup of tea, or indeed, your kettle of rice pudding, but on the other hand, it just might be, and it may make you laugh, in which case, my job here would be done.
Talking of comical music, Saturday is the night of The Eurovision Song Contest, the most important night of the year. ‘It’s not just a matter of Life and Death’, as someone once said about something less vital. ‘It’s more important than that.’