Whistler’s mother


“Here he comes – Whistler’s mother” would be my nan’s retort as I’d skip through the dark corridors of Du Cane Court on Balham High Road where I lived until we emigrated to Carshalton in 1972.

I’d only whistle when happy and this would have coincided with me having talked to a girl – I would run down Balham High Road (I assumed no girls lived outside of SW17) whistling the main theme to Patton: Lust for glory.  I felt I was on top of the world, like the eponymous General George S Patton addressing the troops at the start of the 1970 film.

To demonstrate multi-tasking is not just a girl thing, I could bowl imaginary leg breaks whilst running and whistling!  Not unlike the kid in the 1982 Channel 4 film P’tang, yang, yipperbang – although he had John Arlott in his head, I had George C Scott chipping away in mine, like Jiminy Cricket (which is quite apposite).

If I’d have pursued this talent, rather than the more ostensibly glamorous route of being in advertising, I could have been the next Percy Edwards or Roger Whittaker. I could have released a re-worded version one of Whittaker’s famous ballads and written about leaving old Balham town.  Or copied Percy Edwards with some of his bird impressions.

My nan always said I was a bit of tit; I could have proven her right and sounded like one too!

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