Saturday, 27 June 2009

George Melly

This is the first instalment of the late, great George Melly's autobiography. And it's the best. The next part "Rum, Bum and Concertina" (what sailors have to make do with at sea, as opposed to wine, women and song on shore) is also good, but the third part, "Scouse Mouse", I'm not too fussed about at all.

I don't know what made me pick the book up the first time, maybe just the picture on the cover. I think I'd probably heard of him but only as a television personality. I've read my fair share of books about bands and this is by far my favourite. Which is slightly odd given that I don't really like the type of music that it revolves around.

Despite this, for a long time it was one of my ambitions to see him do his customary turn at Ronnie Scott's in the run up to New Year but I would always be up North visiting my family. And then he died. I went along to an evening with George Melly type thing once, held on a very dark night in a small wooden lecture theatre. I haven't attended anything like it since - just going to listen to someone speak about their life for two or three hours. I knew he'd had an interesting life and that he could write well about it but, unsurprisingly, it was a greater pleasure to hear him tell most of these same tales in the flesh. I think it's fair to say that his serious musical career ended in the early sixties and that from that point onwards he became a professional raconteur.

I found the documentary filmed around his final days depressing, or deflating might be a better word. The slightly rigid bohemianism, the forced (I suspect) indifference to the indignities brought by his various ailments and the prospect of imminent death. Who knows, maybe he really was that cool.


  1. You've whet me appetite dear boy. Mind, I have previous. I'm not trad, Dad - but I dig a bit of Modern.

  2. Great, I hope you like it. I'm sure I'll properly come round to jazz one of these days. I thought I'd be up for dissonate modern jazz, but so far - not really. I used to go to a very good book/record shop in Sheffield called "Rare & Racy" but I'd often be driven out of the place by the sheer din of the stuff they were playing. I quite admired them for that, they were hardcore.

  3. If you have an interest in George Melly, you might check out what I posted to my blog today. I know, it's a bit later, but it took me 56 years to turn this recollection into text.