Inheritance Tracks

July 2, 2007

I’m sure all readers of Bish will be familiar with the Inheritance Tracks feature on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live, but I’ll give you a reminder anyway. This is a segment of the programme in which a person with something mildly interesting or topical about them, but not necessarily a celeb, chooses two pieces of music; one they “inherited” from their parents and one they would wish to pass on to their children.

This week Charles, Earl Spencer (sister of the late lamented Diana, Princess of Wales) gave forth his choice: Benny Hill’s “Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in the West” and Mike and the Mechanics “The Living Years”.

The Benny Hill track is an excellent choice of course, the very apotheosis of the comic song, which still makes me chuckle today, nearly thirty years on in a time when milkmen are a dying breed. Apparently the song is a favourite of David Cameron too, as he chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs. All of which goes to prove that the toffs can laugh along with the rest of us.

One of my heroes, Rolf Harris, will be able to vouch for the Mike and the Mechanics song. We know from Animal Hospital that Rolf is a man whose emotions run close to the surface, and I remember him getting quite overcome on breakfast TV when listening to The Living Years when it first came out. Bless you Rolf. It may be a bit schmaltzy, but it’s heart is in the right place and yes, it does still bring a lump to the throat now, despite the, ahem, rather dated production. God bless Mike Rutherford too then.

Obviously choosing Inheritance Tracks is a task deserving the greatest care and consideration, and probably would be subject to constant revision of the “Oh yes, I’d forgotten, that. That was good wasn’t it?” kind. Ten o’clock at night is probably not the right time to have a stab at it. Nonetheless, in case I go under the proverbial bus tomorrow and can’t choose anything…

The track I inherited from my parents I would say has to be The Hippopotamus by Flanders and Swann. I remember listening to it many times on an old black vinyl-covered HMV mono autochanger record player on the floor in the sitting room, everyone singing along in the chorus. I wouldn’t say that either Mum or Dad were especially big on music, or maybe it was just that there wasn’t money to splash out on records. Mum often had the radio on I recall, usually Radio 2, JY and Wogan, but Dad was more of a TV man when that came along. Family Favourites was popular Sunday lunchtime listening, but the radio always went off smartish when Benny Green’s jazz programme started.

Anywho, both Mum and Dad liked the comedy of the time, the Glumms, Navy Lark, Clitheroe Kid and of course, Round the Horne. And Flanders and Swann, whose “At the Drop of a Hat” and “At the Drop of Another Hat” LPs graced the record cabinet for ever and worked their gentle, witty magic on the next generation.

Ooh, but what to choose to pass on to the MiniBishes? I have been, as I may have mentioned before, a man of musical fads. When I liked a particular artist I became moderately obsessed (can one be that?) with collecting all their work, but there was one group of whose modest canon I only kept one album: Talk Talk’s The Colour of Spring. This was midway between their pop phase and their new age phase and contains an intriguing mix of both. I’ve loved it since I got it and it’ still perfectly listenable now, unlike some of my other fads.

It’s a hard thing even to pick a single track, but plump I must. As this is an Inheritance Track it must pass some sort of hopeful message I suppose, and lyrically I don’t think this is the most uplifting album around, so purely on the basis of the title I’m going for “Life’s What You Make it”. Don’t listen to closely to the words though, even if you can make them out: the voice is strictly just another instrument here. After dinner, turn off the lights, lay back and soak it up. Priceless.

That’s my choice today anyway. Tomorrow it might Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

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One Response to “Inheritance Tracks”

  1. Red Five Says:

    Flanders & Swan – yes indeed, even I have fond memories thereof, despite my disadvantage in years.

    However, I much prefer A Song Of The Weather, simply because it contains the lines ‘In July the sun is hot/Is it shining? No, it’s not’ which has proved so adapt over the years.

    On the subject of a song from my own collection to pass on; even though I as yet has no MiniBishes of my own, I would commend to the house Green Day’s remarkabley fine and simple accoustic song ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’. It serves as a gentle reminder that you’re living all the time, not just at the weekends.


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