One of the most interesting parts of being a vinyl junkie is that sometimes it throws up some fascinating references that have become a mere footnote in music and entertainment cultural history. I will use Tony Fayne as an example: he here is, looking rather dapper, on this 'British Institutions Explained' Philips E.P from 1961 (an album with the same title was also released) that was nestling in amongst a frankly shocking selection of singles at a chazzer. Not wishing to leave to shop empty handed, I took a punt on this and passed over my 20p to the nice lady behind the counter. When I got home and gave it a spin, I was pleasantly amused by his stand-up comedy routine on Garden Fetes, The Police and British Railways.. all of these subjects, held up pretty well, compared to their latter day equivalents. It goes to show that, nearly fifty years on, us Brits are still exasperated by and also affectionately mock these national institutions that rule our daily lives. It must be one of the glues that hold us together socially, a national characteristic, that runs through to our funny bones. This is a vein of humour that is deeper than all the rapid surface level changes that influence our fast changing society.
Mr Fayne was, judging by this recording, a good raconteur, with a heavy reliance on the power of puns and clever word play that the English language affords it's users. However, a little further research reveals that he was a veteran of the London Palladium scene, who had supported Judy Garland on her London debut. Initially, Fayne was part of a double act with a Philip Evans who wrote the material. They specialised in doing impressions, in synch, of BBC sporting commentaries and appeared on shows such as 'Variety Bandbox' and 'Calling All Forces' He went solo in 1958 and also had T.V appearances on 'Toast Of The Town' which later became 'The Ed Sullivan Show' to his credit but what intrigued me most was that he was the straight man, to the redoubtable Norman Wisdom, in a comedy partnership that lasted forty years.
Scratchy has now resolved to partake in his afternoon tea break beside the tiger rug from now on, whilst wearing a crushed purple velvet jacket and a bow tie, all in honour of that gentleman of timeless chuckles - Mr Tony Fayne.