I can't remember the first time I heard the song The Lambeth Walk (from the 1937 musical Me and My Girl, by Noel Gay, Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose), nor when I became aware that a dance goes with it. A strutting dance, this was inspired by the traditional pre-war Lambeth evening promenade, according to this page, which also features the legendary Bill Brandt photograph of a girl doing the dance. The dance steps can be found here.
A number of song-and-dance performances of The Lambeth Walk have turned up on YouTube. During the seventies, the Egyptian-French superstar Dalida recorded a charmingly kitsch rendition that seems to take a number of liberties with the steps, and definitely takes some with the words. Robert Lindsay gave a more authentic performance in the 1987 revival of the musical. Depending on your mood, the seemingly endless repetition of the chorus in this clip will either plaster a grin between your ears or seriously annoy you.
Incredibly, there is even a Japanese version, perhaps better described as an extravaganza. Once you fast-forward past the introductory dialogue, the actual dance is accompanied by a great deal of slapstick. This performance provides fascinating insight into the Japanese take on English culture: lamp-posts, trench-coats, murders in the library, and coronation robes all figure prominently.
Just a Minute
Am I the only one to have found something oddly reassuring about the fortieth anniversary of Just a Minute last month? It is comforting to reflect that, throughout four decades of change and upheaval, a group of people have consistently gathered to discuss such topics as "How to get ice out of an ice-cube tray" for one whole minute, without hesitation, repetition, or deviating from the subject. Some of the original contestants, such as Peter Jones and, of course, Kenneth Williams (who dominated the show during his time on it) have now passed on, but there is a new stable of personalities who can be relied upon to extract full humour from their topics, and keep host Nicholas Parsons on his toes. Like many other fans of the show, I used to keep a notebook of the funniest lines, so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an online archive containing a wealth of Just a Minute transcripts. Warning: it is pop-up heavy, so keep your blocker turned on.