If you were to ask me who my favourite ukulele player is , I would have to say Cliff Edwards, AKA ‘Ukulele Ike’. During the 1920’s Cliff was one of the biggest stars in the US, he sold millions of records and appeared in many films. He was the first to sing many famous songs, indeed his biggest hit was ‘Singing in the Rain’ which he recorded in 1929 long before the film of the same name. He sang the Disney theme song ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ and was the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the film adaptation of Pinocchio. Sadly he died a penniless alcoholic in 1971 forgotten by all but a small band of ukulele aficionados. Today I got rather excited when I found a picture of him riding a bicycle on the MGM lot and carrying Buster Keaton on the handlebars.
As a child I watched my father ride his Raleigh Superbe and fell totally in love with it. I remember my father explaining that a good bicycle had hub gears, mudguards, a chain case and an upright riding position. In my early 20s I rode the Raleigh when at home visiting my parents and have very fond memories of late night rides home from the pub. A few years ago my Father gave the bicycle to his best friend, who for several years, rode it to and from work. For the last 6 years this beautiful machine has been left gathering dust in a workshop until my father’s friend decided to pass it on to me (thank you Alistair, I am immensely grateful). I have spent a good few hours cleaning and servicing it, bringing it back to a ridable state.
Last May my father died, it was very sudden and I am still in a profound state of shock. Riding his bicycle is a great comfort to me. It is a very special bicycle.
I have decided to add some music to each of my blog posts; and so dear readers, here is another 78rpm recording transferred using my HMV163 gramophone. It was one of my father’s favourite records and a song we enjoyed singing together.
Hat’s On The Side Of My Head – Jack Hulbert
Recorded in 1933 with the Ray Noble Band
PS if you are waiting for an email for the songbook link, I shall be getting up to date during the Christmas holidays.
Last Sunday saw yet another Taunton Tweed Cycle Chic ride. This time we ventured from Vivary Park to North Curry, and numbered 19 riders. The weather was positively continental and a marvellous time was had by all. After meeting up we made our way through town, with Neil causing quite a stir on his 1882 Ordinary Bicycle (Penny Farthing). The route took us along the canal and then down the beautiful back roads to North Curry. We had a fine lunch and a few pints at The Bird In Hand and entertained ourselves with a selection of songs from the Saddlebag Songbook. Thanks to all who came and made it such a great day.
I made a little film of the ride…
The soundtrack is ‘The Continental’ performed by the Lew Stone Band featuring Nat Gonella on vocals. It was transferred from 78rpm record via my HMV163 Gramophone and a studio condenser mic.
It’s been a while so here is a little post about ‘The Great British Tea Party”. This is a new venture from a couple of my tweed cycling/ukulele friends. In there own words…
The Great British Tea Party offers the genteel experience of afternoon tea from the back of a beautifully restored Morris Minor van. The simple pleasure of a cup of tea in a china cup and a slice of cake made with love. GBTP provides a tea and cake service for weddings, parties and events.
I love to throw a ukulele in my saddlebag and head off for a days ride. I felt I needed a compact songbook to take along, so began compiling a collection of ukulele arrangements. I choose the songs of the jazz era , a heyday for both song writing and bicycling. The songs chosen are perfectly suited for the vintage chic cyclist.
The songbook is intended for the use of cycling ukulele players and/or singers. It should be printed in A5 size and spiral bound to make it the perfect saddlebag songbook. If you are not familiar with the songs contained in the book try searching titles on ‘You Tube’.
Accentuate The Positive
After You’ve Gone
Ain’t She Sweet
All I Do is Dream Of You
All Of Me
Bei Mir Bist Du Schön
Choo Choo Ch’boogie
Dance Me To The End Of Love
Don’t Fence Me In
Five Foot Two
Houdini Never Hung Around In Bars
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love
I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire
I Love A Ukulele
I Wan’na Be Like You
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
I’ll See You In My Dreams
If I Had You
In The Mood
It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing)
It Had To Be You
It’s Only A Paper Moon
Leaning On A Lamp Post
Love Is The Sweetest Thing
Mack The Knife
Minnie The Moocher
My Blue Heaven
My Melancholy Baby
Night And Day
Nobody knows You When You’re Down And Out
Noughts and Crosses
Pennies From Heaven
Roll Along Prairie Moon
She Tunes Her Ukulele GCEA
Shine On Harvest Moon
Singin’ In The Rain
Sweet Georgia Brown
The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
The Girl From Ipanema
The Glory of Love
The Sheik Of Araby
The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine
Till There Was You
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Tonight You Belong To Me
When I’m Cleaning Windows
Without My Walking Stick
Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart
NB: You may notice a couple of modern songs in the list, I included them because they are in the style and just great songs.
If you are a cyclist and would like a free copy of the “Saddlebag Songbook” then just leave a comment and I will email a link and password for the download page.
I haven’t blogged for some time but it’s time to get things moving again. So before I launch into rants about crap cycling in Taunton… a little fun. Last week the members of Taunton Tweed Cycle Chic took to the cycle paths and rode from Vivary Park to Maunsell Lock. The weather was hot, hot, hot so we only managed Tweed through town, but with bells ringing and loud ‘Good Mornings’ we certainly got noticed. Thanks go to Brian from Bicycle Chain for leading us off. We stopped for lunch at the canal side cafe and strummed ukuleles using the new ‘Bicycle and Ukulele Saddlebag Song Book’ (Post a comment for a free copy!). So here for you delectation are a few photographs of the day set to a toe tapping soundtrack from Django Reinhardt.
The ride was great fun, because of the superb weather and the great company but also because the majority of the ride was car free and on separate infrastucture.
I have always been car free, never even driven one, I don’t actually know what the pedals do. It was never a really big lifestyle choice, I cycled to school and to friends houses and just never felt the need to travel any other way. When I was 17 I began touring and 100 miles a day was a breeze, I could go anywhere by bike.
My first cycle rides were on the narrow lanes around the village where I grew up. I remember many wonderful family rides, zooming around the Somerset levels and stopping for picnic lunches. We almost never saw a car and the sun always shone…happy days.
In 1990 a most significant cycling moment came with my first ‘Young Bell Ringers Cycling Tour‘, a week long adventure ringing in churches around Oxfordshire. We stayed in youth hostels and cycled to around six towers a day. The 30 strong group of cyclists made quite an impression on me and I knew then that I would always want to make the bicycle my primary mode of transport. I went on two further tours and remember them with great affection. Geoff the organiser has continued to run the tours and I am sure has inspired many more young people to become serious cyclists.
Fast forward 20 years…I am married with two young children and a demanding full time job. I no longer have time for endless days of touring but I still ride my bike every day. I have a trailer for shopping and to take the children around and ride to work every day. I love the feeling of whizzing along and day dreaming about the long summer days of my youth.
OK, so I know I have rather rose tinted spectacles on when it comes to my memories of childhood cycling, but the point is I have positive memories of cycling from a very early age. In my teenage years I flew around everywhere by bicycle and just remember the pure freedom it gave me. Are today’s children having the same positive experiences? Some maybe, but with the roads increasingly clogged by maniacal car, van and lorry drivers the experience of those lucky enough to be allowed out on a bike is likely to be much less satisfying. The 21st century teenager is probably far more likely to be a car driver or passenger than to be using a bicycle for daily transport.
If we are to see more young people cycling we have to make it feel safe and fast. The only way I can see this being achieved is if we adopt the Dutch model of segregated infrastructure. When parents feel cycling is safe they will begin to use the bicycle for everyday transport and children will be able to cycle to safely school. Cycling children will become cycling adults.