Fings definitely ain’t wot they used t’be!

Reading the latest review by the incomparable West End Whingers, I’ve just been transported back 50 years to when I was a spotty teenager and a Frank Norman devotee. He was the edgiest writer I’d encountered until then, with his cockney spelling and his tales of old Soho – a place I and my pal Roger, as 17-year-old school boys, wandered round wide-eyed after our frequent Wednesday afternoon trips to the Academy cinema in Oxford Street or Mayfair’s Curzon, deluding ourselves with arty films like Last Year in Marienbad and Black Orpheus (actually they were both very good).  This was Soho before the Wolfenden Report and the ladies of the night were on the pavements in the afternoon, and particularly in St. Anne’s Court. I can never hear Johnny Burnette’s “Dreaming” without a mental picture of that 2nd floor window with the red light on and the blonde upper torso beckoning. What would have happened to a young virgin if he’d ventured? But – to resume –  ‘Fings’ at the Garrick (May 20, 1961 as it anally states on my programme) was a major milestone on my road to the love of theatre. For a start – look at the cast, none of whom meant anything to me at the time – Miriam Karlin, Victor Spinetti, Wallas Eaton, Bryan Pringle, Yootha Joyce, George Sewell and of course, the sexiest two prostitutes you ever saw, Toni Palmer and Barbara Windsor. Whereas I emerged from ‘West Side Story’ at Her Majesty’s wanting to jump over all the fire hydrants, after Fings I just wanted to live in St. Anne’s Court! Amazing. If the Union is full-bodied, there is no phrase to describe the original – Joan Littlewood’s first and finest hour.

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About dhvinyl

Lifelong obsession with music, 33 years in the music business, 40 years immersed in selling old records, 18 years retired!
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