Today is Saint Cecilia’s Day and my birthday. Hurrah! To celebrate everyone’s birthdays and the many hundreds of children I taught there are four songs today.
As a teacher in several large primary schools the child or children stood in front of the hall at assembly and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday To You’ on their big day. One day for a change I wrote what became known as The Nah-nah’s Song which became popular in every other school I visited. It went like this:
In another school I wrote ‘Because It’s My Birthday Again’ for some rebellious children. It usually finished with some suitably raucous cheering;
Then this one, which was followed by their own choice of song ( usually the Nah-nah’s Song):
And lastly, a song in which the audience repeated the phrase I’d just sung. (Not easy) It was for children who didn’t like standing up in front of the school while everyone sang to them: The Anti-Birthday Song Birthday Song, followed by a song of their choice:
The music is part of a longer work I wrote in 2008. I like the sound of an oboe. The top photo of The Barge in Hertford is where I met my wife-to-be 49 years ago, or more correctly, in the single storey shed you can just see, at the birthday party of a mutual friend.
In the 1974 I compiled a travelling theatre presentation which twenty of us took around England in a bus. The show, made up of songs, sketches and dancing, was called ‘Here In The Distance’ and explored, in a light-hearted way, the theme of relationships in people and society. The venture was funded by the British Council of Churches and our home churches (we came from different parts of the country). The song came out of my visit to London when I was gathering ideas for the production.
Sue Ashby played piano, Will Fletcher, viola, Phil Milner, bass guitar, and Nigel Pegrum (who also produced the album) played percussion on this 1981 recording.
Dave was a teacher in early 1970s Stevenage. Unhappy with his school and the students he was pleased to find a folk club, and a way out of teaching for good. He decided to become a club performer. He already played piano and I was happy to show him the rudiments of folk guitar, give him a few songs to get him started and be driven to my own bookings by him, where he’d play the ‘floor spots’. He was a single-minded and remarkably quick learner, and it wasn’t long before he tumbled into professional singing. Eventually, after many adventures, he moved back to his beloved West Country, where he was at home in both senses of the word, and continued his playing and song writing until his early death in 2011.
I wrote ‘David Turns The Page’ and first recorded it in 1981 for the album Close Relations. It was a song he liked. I made the present, more reflective, recording early one morning because I was thinking about him.