Viv Stanshall Day

by Harry on May 13, 2015

I’ve decided to unilaterally declare today “Viv Stanshall Day”.

I noticed last night that Radio 4 Extra is repeating Big Shot: A Trip Through the Canyons of Viv Stanshall’s Mind.

So I got very anxious about a student I’ve been teaching all year, who is visiting Madison from a UK university. I have taught her philosophy and helped her with her writing, and given her the best mince pies she has ever had and generally looked after her welfare. I even showed her that wonderful youtube clip of Jeremy Hardy and Mark Steele talking about Americans (I showed the whole class, they loved it). But — I had neglected her national heritage. Might she go home without having learned anything about Viv? So I sent her some videos:

Her response (timestamped 1.04am): “I am listening to these in the union with Gab and am trying not to just sit here laughing to myself!… My Pink Half of a Drainpipe – the bit about rice pudding. Just all of it really; wonderful, just wonderful. I am convinced I have seen the tigers one before, which was bloody funny…These have brought me much joy.” And I know she doesn’t lie because she hated the paper of mine that we read in class, and was quite uninhibited about saying so.

Tragedy averted. Maybe the now we have a majority Tory government at last, they will officially declare today Viv Stanshall day! Can’t I start a petition or something?



Teachable Mo' 05.13.15 at 2:10 pm

Sir Henry at Rawlinson’s End

Stanshall’s horribly recorded and unforgivably muttered magnum opus.


Teachable Mo' 05.13.15 at 2:15 pm

If you don’t want to wade through that (and it’s a slog) I recommend “Jollity Farm” or “Hello Mabel” (hiya, fellows) by the Bonzos.

And about half of the Monty Python skits came almost directly from “Shirt”


Neville Morley 05.13.15 at 2:20 pm

“Do you like soul music?”
“We’ll do the Trouser Press!”


name withheld by flying saucer 05.13.15 at 2:45 pm

Yesterday I added “King Kripple” from Teddy Boys Don’t Knit to my most favorite tracks. That is a great rocker.


Phil 05.13.15 at 3:55 pm

The more I listen to Viv the more I feel what a strange and troubled place his mind was. Neil Innes talks somewhere about how he rescued the Bonzos’ song “Busted” by writing a chorus for it and thereby steering Viv’s train of thought back from where it was heading…
In the soft grey squeeze as they mind the doors
Like a sacrifice to the Minotaur
All together in the blood-rush hour

A genius, certainly – to rank with (say) Peter Cook or Chris Morris – but you wouldn’t want to be him.


George 05.13.15 at 5:04 pm

Back in 1974, my first year in college, I was introduced to The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. And really introduced through “The Intro and the Outro.”


harry b 05.13.15 at 5:09 pm

Oh god yes. And it got so much worse over time. There’s a lovely (I think TV, though typically I heard it all on the radio) documentary in which he revisits his home town (Leigh on Sea I think) and talks to a former girlfriend and, more notably, his mum. AS the conversation with his mum goes on at some point she tells him his father loved him, and there is a restrained, but just awful awful, sound of sadness in Viv’s voice when he asks why his father never told him that — he clearly didn’t believe it. The documentary must have been made between his dad’s and his own death (obviously); and you have to feel glad that at least he heard his mum say it. He was, also, and I think this comes through in a lot of his work, plagued with self doubt, with a feeling he could never be good enough, and a kind of consequent laziness. John Peel says that the reason his work on the Peel show was so exquisite (and it was) was that Walters produced the hell out of it and would just say to Viv — that’s not good enough, and make him do it well.


harry b 05.13.15 at 5:13 pm

And of course Cool Brittania

And Busted is a work of genius

And… it goes on and on


ed_finnerty 05.13.15 at 6:38 pm

I always thought someone should rerecord nine to Five Pollution Blues. I think it could stand up.

Also I have a fondness for Mr and Mrs Mickey Mouse


Harry 05.13.15 at 9:56 pm

Keynsham is actually my favourite album of all time. Not a second wasted on it.


name withheld by flying saucer 05.14.15 at 10:31 am

I’ve sung “Lipstickgleam, hexachloraphene” to myself once a week for the last 40 years. “Sometimes the pattern is more obvious…”!


jonnybutter 05.15.15 at 3:03 am

This is the post I’ve been waiting for! Good on you, Harry.


jonnybutter 05.15.15 at 3:13 am

The natives had it in their novels that if ever a chap’s soul was pure, the snake bite wouldn’t harm him. Poor old Hargreaves – died almost im -mmediately. Horrible agony.


name withheld by flying saucer 05.15.15 at 10:12 am

The priest-holes are stuffed with empties!


jonnybutter 05.15.15 at 11:34 am

I’m. Bored. To DEATH (like Mortarboard)


Harold 05.17.15 at 6:23 pm

It is sort of like a transcendental Diary of a Nobody


jonnybutter 05.18.15 at 11:33 am

It’s an odd boy who doesn’t like Sport.

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