Grandad's Watton

Pre-war dance bands

No reference to Watton's pre-war dance bands would be complete without a mention of a tall, curly headed character from Hingham who was, I believe, a blacksmith by trade. Blacksmith by day he may have been, but by night a violinist who so enchanted his hearers that they would sometimes stop dancing to stand and listen to his playing. And when this happened, and after applause, he would sometimes play as an encore, strange choice, the 'Serenade from Standchen'. I first heard that piece of music when he played it at a dance in Saham village school over fifty years ago, and it has remained a firm favourite with me ever since.

In the between-the-wars period the latest dance music became well known nation-wide almost overnight and this- was due entirely to the influence of 'the wireless'. In the early 1920's very very few homes had a wireless. By 1930 hardly a house was without one, and every night one of the big London bands like Jack Payne, Lew Stone, Harry Roy, Joe 'In the Mood' Loss, and many others wafted out music to every corner of the country and songs like 'Ain't she sweet', 'Let me call you sweetheart' and 'Music Maestro, Please', which would first be heard in London on a Monday or Tuesday would be echoing round the saleroom walls, or on the lips of every Watton errand boy by the following week. There were so many good old songs. A tear would glint in Grandma's eye as she hummed 'Amongst my Souvenirs' or 'Tired Hands' and the old saleroom floor was tested to the limit as dozens of pairs of shoes (and a few boots) stamped their way round 'Doing the Lambeth Walk' or the Palais Glide. The memory lingers on. The lovely waltz 'Destiny', the more raucous 'Horsey, Keep your tail up', 'Ain't no sense sitting on the fence all by yourself in the moon­ light' and that supreme, unforgettable example of the song writer's art —

'It ain't the corf
That carries you orf
It's the corfin
they carry you orfin'.

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