Giles Brandreth, man of mystery. Mystery and teddy bears.
Outside of the fact that he tells the “woolly jumper/wooly mind” anecdote in every single interview you’ll ever see him give (and who am I to complain? If verbally outwitting John “Improvised Comedy” Prescott once is a proud achievement for a man then long may he boast about it), Giles Brandreth has always seemed quite uncommonly nice for a Tory.
The reason why I mention him is a story that is probably best told through the comments that I’ve left elsewhere. Popular, Tom Ewing’s excellent blog about UK number one hit singles, is up to the Timmy Mallet (and/or ‘Bombalurina’, apparently) version of “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”. In response to another commenter drawing a distinction between “Wacaday” and “Wideawake” (sic), I left the following comment (with particular reference to the second paragraph) (EDIT: now emboldened, for convenience):
“#28 – Wide Awake Club! Hence Wacaday, derived from the initials.
I have a strong and distinct memory of Giles Brandreth being one of the presenters of Wide Awake Club, but Wikipedia tells me this never actually happened. This has unsettled me somewhat.
Also: I liked Timmy Mallet at the time and thus was a thick kid (it’s strange, actually; there was a lot of kids TV that I couldn’t stand for being patronising, including things that I now recognise to be far superior, but I definitely enjoyed Wacaday. Although it did hurt me somewhat when I spent ages making a collage bird, sent it in for a competition they had, and it never got shown on TV even though a load of clearly far crappier ones did. From this experience I learned never to put any effort or hard work into anything ever again, and that’s a lesson that has stood me in good stead. I digress…), but I didn’t like this. It was a bit disquieting, actually. I put that down to being an 8 year old and having trouble processing the vague perviness of it.
I can’t work up any particularly strong feelings about it now, but I never really have any hate in me for the silly end of novelty songs even if I don’t like them.
Also also: I’d remembered this as being being credited to Timmy Mallet, artist-name-wise. If you’d said the word “Bombalurina” to me I wouldn’t have had even the foggiest idea what it might be.
So, what I’ve learned today is that most of my scant few memories of childhood are completely false. Fancy.”
CF: this Wikipedia article here. It has no mention at all of Brandreth, at the time of posting.
Happily, I didn’t take this particular ‘no’ for an answer. After research, I went on to leave this comment:
“AHA~! I’m not under the illusion that anyone will care about this, but I’m so overcome with feelings of triumph that I feel the need to comment anyway.
The Brandreth-not-being-on-WAC was niggling away at me (if you think that’s sad then try living with it, as a wise man once said) and so I dug out the two spin-off paperbacks I’ve owned since being a young’in – “WAC snacks” and “WAC jokes”. Lord help me if “WAC Jokes” doesn’t have an alarmingly young Brandreth on the cover (alongside Tommy Boyd and two people I don’t remember named Arabella Warner and James Baker). He wields two feather dusters, and wears a hat with two plastic yellow flowers sticking out of the top. He smiles the smile of a “Deliverance” hillbilly, and the contrast between that and the panic-filled grins on the faces of the other three gives me some idea of what was really going on.
No picture, but still: http://www.shelfari.com/search/books?Keywords=0-552-54279-2
I feel like I’ve… I don’t know, maybe I’ve won. Have at you, Wikipedia.”
I know this isn’t important, but for some reason I feel disproportionately happy about the fact that I was right after all.
It is a scary grin that he sports on the cover of the book, though. Maybe he isn’t such a loveable old teddy bear after all.