One of the engaging things about much of music hall is that, as expressed by W. Macqueen-Pope (1957),
It was completely down to earth. Its comedians sang to the audience about their everyday life, about mother-in-law, the lodger, the woman next door, beer, the public house, the seaside holiday, the landlord, the unpaid rent and the brokers’ men, about food and drink–and also about that every present difficulty to which it referred in its own language of rhyming slang as ‘The Trouble and Strife’. … It turned the little worries of existence into things of fun; it made people laugh at what had been worrying them, to see the funny side of life and thus it cheered them up.
A music-hall star who typifies this type of song as well as any and perhaps more memorably than most is Vesta Victoria (1874-1951). Born Victoria Lawrence, she was a hugely popular and massively successful comic singer (she was estimated to have been worth around £3.25 million in the 1920s, the equivalent in 2014 of around £975 million, according to Richard Anthony Baker), famous for her performances of songs such as Waiting at the Church and Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow Wow, both written specially for her. This week’s Song of the Week, from the pens of Charles Collins and Fred Godfrey, is a lesser known song, but no less entertaining, Now I Have To Call Him Father:
I used to be as happy as the dickies on the trees
That’s when I was courting and my mind was well at ease
I used to feel so loving with ‘En’ry by my side
Looking forward to the day when I should be his bride
But now he’s thrown me over and I’m full of misery
Someone else has done me out of William ‘Enery.
Chorus: He used to come and court his little Mary Ann
I used to think that he was my young man
But Mother caught his eye
And they got married on the sly
Now I have to call him Father.
He used to call me “Dreamy-eyes” and take me on his knee
Kiss my little ruby lips and make a fuss of me
He’d bought a second handed home to comfort me through life
Now he’s thrown me over for a second handed wife
And on the wedding day when he was married to mamma
He said, “Go wash your face and kiss your new papa.”
When I got home this afternoon it broke my heart to see
William cuddling Mother as he used to cuddle me
At ten o clock last night I felt I’d like to punch his head
When he said to me, “Pop off, its time to go to bed”
The next young man I get I’ll let him see me to the door
But I’ll never introduce one to my Mother any more.
Baker, R. A. (2014). British Music Hall: an Illustrated History. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
Macqueen-Pope, W. (1957). Queen of the Music Halls. London: Oldbourne.