Last month, I had the pleasure of an evening out at Wilton’s Music Hall for a new night called ‘Carradine’s Cockney Sing-A-long’. It’s rare that I get an evening out without working as much of my spare time is given over to child-rearing or sleeping, so it was a complete treat to hop on the train and saunter through the backstreets of the East End to find myself in an alleyway, outside Wilton’s; London’s oldest surviving music hall.
I ducked inside, welcomed in from the Autumn chill by the warm glow and the excited chatter. Seated at the piano was the ever dapper, and beautifully turned out, Tom Carradine, resplendent in a vintage suit with one of the finest handlebar moustaches ever seen in London. Beside him, cabaret’s cheeky charleston chap and co-host, Champagne Charlie perused the song sheet.
I ordered a glass of champagne from the divine bar keep (always a huge plus point for me – lovely bar keeps!) and scanned the song sheets to see what musical delights Mr Carradine had up his well starched sleeve. Like me, he is a connoisseur of vintage and rare songs and his attention to detail is pretty, bloomin’ flawless.
Soon it was time to start and we raised our voices in song. The packed bar made a motley choir of champagne saturated voices singing together in joyful chorus. If you don’t know it, just mumble until you get to the chorus, or take a well-timed glug of your drink. The more you drink, the easier it becomes as the inhibitions with which you are fettered drop away like descending scales. The line up of songs had something for everyone; War Songs, Cockney Classics and no Cockney sing-a-long would be complete without an obligatory ‘Oliver’ medley and enough “‘Ave a Bananas” to keep enough the most dedicated ‘mockney’ happy!
This is not a show. It’s almost an anti-show. It’s a gathering of friends, in a shabby East End bar, singing songs. In this time encapsulated by the solitude of technology and the reliance on television, it is a tonic for the soul to be transported back to a time of community and such simple pleasures as lifting your voice in song next to a complete stranger, linked only by the shared knowledge of these old melodies that have seeped into our public consciousness.
The singing finished, and I skipped off into the night to catch the train, light of heart and step. To paraphrase and translate from the poem by Schober, ‘An die Musik’, I was indeed transported to a better world.
The next ‘Carradine’s Cockney Sing-a-Long’ is on the 11th of November. I shall be there ready to sing songs and celebrate the joy of community singing – I urge you to join us. Entry is free (although there is gratuitous hat passing – so bring your gold coins!)
Carradine’s Cockney Sing-A-Long
Wilton’s Music Hall
[photos courtesy of Carradine’s Cockney Sing-a-long]