Goodnight, Tommy old lad – I bet you and Dolly am ‘avin a ball right now. You will be greatly missed, as another little bit of our Black Country fades from the present, into the past.
Thanks for the laughter, mate. And as for Dolly? Fancy living out here, and ‘avin no butter…
I shall miss Tommy he was the funniest man on earth.
Thanks for the memory…..and a million laughs. Harry, Dolly and now Tommy, the trio who provoked the gusts of laughter at all the venues of ‘Black Country Night Out’ , now sadly departed.
An unashamed aficionado of the show, back in its early days. Before the days of video and C.D’s. To take something home, you were offered a vinyl L.P, and my copy went on the turntable very often, the familiar Black Country voices lightening my mood . Yes, I knew all the humour by heart, but ‘Yo gorraa loff,’ and I did.
Those early shows were often ‘Faggots and Grey Paes’ nights, often in industrial canteens. I attended one such night in the works canteen of F.H. Lloyds, James Bridge, the utilitarian workaday aspect of the canteen blending in rather nicely with the voices and material of the actors.
Who can forget Dolly Allen and her workshy husband and sister Fanny? Each sketch brought out new and humorous revelations. And Harry Harrison, whose poem ‘Bilston Market’ was a masterpiece of departed nostalgia, the sights and smells were there, the jumble of goods on the various stalls recounted in marvellous detail, even the ‘catches’ , shoddy goods that looked a bargain until you got them home., Harry remembered the lot. And Tommy, larger as life, as always, with his perfect timing on the ‘punch line’, followed by the huge grin and infectious laugh, Who can forget them.?
Shall we see their like again? I very much doubt it. This remarkable trio started life when the Black Country was ‘what it says on the tin’. A pall of black smoke covered most of the area, the product of numerous factory chimneys. With open blast furnaces shedding a lurid glow, after dark. And the thump of incessant hammers from many buildings. Life was pretty grim for the thousands of manual workers, and in this remarkable way, Black Country humour was born. ‘Yo’ve gorra loff, to stop yourself from cryin’ was the silent philosophy which guided a lot of the humour. Take Dolly Allen, the undercurrent of most of her humour was poverty, and how she dealt with it.
Happily, those days are gone for most of us, but so has the humour associated with it. We shall miss you, Harry. Dolly and Tommy, with grateful thanks for all the enjoyment you gave us.
my favourite story of Dolly’s..”the pig and the barrow”.