Friday, June 01, 2012

Sepia Saturday 128 : Uncle Harry

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week features some sheet music - "I Can't Get Enough Of Your Love" by Sophie Tucker to be precise. We didn't have many musicians in the family so when I think of sheet music I think of Uncle Harry. He was a semi-professional pub and club pianist and he had a fine collection of sheet music. As a child, I would lift the lid of his piano stool and leaf through the colourful folios. I suspect he would have had something by Sophie Tucker in his collection, her songs were always popular in the Working Men's Clubs of the North in the fifties and sixties. The prompt really demands some sepia lyrics to go with the sepia photograph of Harry. So here are a couple of extracts from Noël Coward's wonderful song, Uncle Harry.

We all of us have relations,
Our crosses in life we bear,
A gloomy group of uncles, cousins and aunts.
We meet them in railway stations,
In Harrods, or Chester Square,
And always on the Channel boat to France.
We have to be polite to them,
They sometimes send us pheasants.
We always have to write to them
To thank for Christmas presents.
These family obligations
Admittedly are a bore
But I possess one uncle that I positively adore.

Poor Uncle Harry
Wanted to be a missionary
So he took a ship and sailed away.
This visionary,
Hotly pursued by dear Aunt Mary,
Found a South Sea Isle on which to stay.
The natives greeted them kindly and invited them to dine
On yams and clams and human hams and vintage coconut wine,
The taste of which was filthy, but the after-effects divine.

Poor Uncle Harry
Got a bit gay and longed to tarry.
This, Aunt Mary couldn't quite allow.
She lectured him severely on a number of church affairs
But when she'd gone to bed he made a getaway down the stairs,
For he longed to find the answer to a few of the maiden's prayers.
Uncle Harry's not a missionary now.

Poor Uncle Harry
After a chat with dear Aunt Mary
Thought the time had come to make a row.
He lined up all the older girls in one of the local sheds
And while he was reviling them, and tearing himself to shreds
They took their Mother Hubbards off and tied them around their heads.
Uncle Harry's not a missionary now.
He's awfully happy
But he's certainly not a missionary now!

With the tune still ringing in your ears, why not wander over to the Sepia Saturday Blog and take a look at the other music on offer.


  1. We had a piano stool full of exotic looking sheet music too; I wish we’d kept it. My parents got rid of the piano when I failed to exhibit any talent at the keyboard, so the music went too.

    Good old Noel Coward;listening to this you can see where Jake Thakray got some of his influence.

  2. Wasn't it nice that Noel Coward wrote a special song for your Uncle Harry just in time for Sepia Saturday this week?
    How funny, to dine on yams and clams and human hams!! That Noel.

  3. You seem to have so many more interesting relatives than I do. Though I do remember we had an old piano and a piano stool full of sheet music at one time. I don't know what happened to it. Did 'Got a bit gay' have the same connotations then as now, I wonder? Oh yes, as for synchronised photo blogging, this week will do fine. Don't mind what day - Wednesday perhaps?

  4. Alan, wonderful post and a handsome man your uncle Harry.Yes, didn't we all have a piano and one of these stools where sometimes the fingers would get caught under the lid in a hurry to put the sheet music back to be free from playing scales and sonatas.

  5. Too bad we can't actually HEAR Uncle Harry. I bet he put on quite a show. That wavy hair. Those kissable lips. Mmmm. (but HUMAN HAMS???? What's that??)

  6. I concur with my sister, Nancy and Wendy. What the heck is a human ham? I shudder to think!!!!! Sure did enjoy the song, though and reading about Uncle Harry.

  7. Your uncle Harry was a cool dude!

  8. I can bet your Uncle Harry was much like my favorite Uncle Johnny!

  9. "We always have to write to them
    To thank for Christmas presents.
    These family obligations
    Admittedly are a bore."

    Well I, for one, think it very sad that this no longer happens very much. We always had to write thank you letters when we were kids, but nowadays it seems to be the significant exception, rather than the rule. As for pheasants, I never had anyone send me one, let alone a relative. We had a beautiful male pheasant wandering around our lawn yesterday, though.

    Thanks for a most appropriate accompaniment with which to read Sepia Saturday contributions, Alan. He reminds me of Flanders & Swann, who I haven't heard for years.

  10. He's certainly got a nice perm...

  11. Good old Uncle Harry and Noel Coward too.

  12. Ha! This is was a surprise and too funny. Loved the picture and memories of your own Uncle Harry also.

    Kathy M.

  13. Poor Uncle Harry! I liked the music better than the lyrics.

  14. Oh I loved this Alan. Dined on 'human hams?. I have loved this week's theme. Some super entries.

  15. Uncle Harry was a handsome man. Enjoyed the song, but I also wondered about the "human hams." From "Red Hot Mama's" to Uncle Harry, I've learned a lot this week at Sepia Saturday.

  16. My family was sadly lacking in musicians, so I never had the joy of rummaging through the sheet music in the piano stool (or anywhere else for that matter).

  17. Ah, inimitable Noel. Liked the picture of YOUR Uncle Harry - he looks as if he is just about to break out in a smile.

  18. Wow nice memorial to your Uncle Harry! You just reminded me I could have written about my twin uncles who played piano and quitar and sang in bars semi-professionally, they were quite talented. Duh!

  19. Sublime! And so fun.

  20. Anonymous10:13 AM

    You have missed a verse. I can't remember it all but part of it was he forbade them shopping in the nude. "Now they did'nt think this funny, and they didn't take it well. They burned his boots and several suits and wrecked the mission hotel. They also burned his mackintosh which made a disgusting smell. Uncle Harry's not a missionary now.


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