RECORDED: 29 Dec 1958

By Spike Milligan

GREENSLADE: This is the BBC Light Programme. Now here is a variation on that. This is THE BBC Light Programme.

CAST: Murmurs of approval.

SELLERS: The old night school's paying off there, Wal.

SECOMBE: Yer, chat on more on it there Wal lad. Give us a bit more of the old posh chat der.

GREENSLADE: I continue my recital of announcements. The BBC is open to the public on Thursdays and Wednesday afternoons, or, on Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays.

MILLIGAN: Thank you Jim. Now here folks is Chief Ellinga Yingtoo to say Thursday in Swahili.

ELLINGTON: Ma Ia toola ya, yarga toola marngu. Do la maar gar, oota mye chikaav faar goola toilmmmmm.

MILLIGAN: You see how long the days are in Africa folks. Forward Mr Seaside with your New Year's resolutions.

SEAGOON: Thank you. Hello folks, hello folks! It is me folks. Folks, it is me! Next year folks I hope to give up 1958 PERMANENTLY.

ELDER STATESMAN: Ungrateful beast. After 1958 all that it's done for you, you discard it like an old boot. I won't hear it.

SEAGOON: Let me warn you hairy sir, of the many dangers and donjers of keeping on old years after it's worn out. Mrs Greenslade's husband will now tell you why.

GREENSLADE: It was the year 1907, and here is the orchestra to play it.

ORCHESTRA: New years-type musical link. Start with bright, up-beat version of “Land of Hope and Glory” - then rapid version of “Soldiers of the Queen” with the band singing to rhythm accompaniment. Finishes on a tatty chord in C.[1]

SEAGOON: Ah, what a year that was. The South African war had broken out and was now in its second year.

OMNES: (Singing) 'Happy Birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you…'

SEAGOON: Knock knock knock on a door in Africa.

BLOODNOK: Knock knock knock on a door in Africa? Gad, that's the address of my door - come in!

SEAGOON: Effects, door opens.

BLOODNOK: Ahhh!  Effects ‘Ahhh'.

SEAGOON: May I introduce myself?

BLOODNOK: Of course.

SEAGOON: (Announcing) Ladies and Gentlemen! The man in the blue corner is Neddie Seagoon. (Normal) Thank you. I'm 5th Lieutenant Seagoon reporting from Sandhurst SW9.

BLOODNOK: Well sit down on that chair in Africa SE16.

FX: Duck call.

SEAGOON: Thank you. I was told to hand this envelope to you with a hand.

BLOODNOK: Oh. Pronounced...

GRAMS: (Pre-recorded) BLOODNOK: Ohhh ooohh oooh!!!

FX: Envelope opening.

BLOODNOK: Ah, these are your secret orders.

SEAGOON: What do they say?


GRAMS: Regiment standing at ease.

SEAGOON: (relief) Oh, that feels much better sir.

BLOODNOK: Yes, and it suits you what's more. Now to military matters of milt. Captain Jampton?

GRAMS: Mad dash of coconut shells horses hooves very brief, very fast, approaching to foreground.

HUGH JAMPTON: Ahhh ... Sorry I'm late sir, I er… I was quelling a native with ah... quells.

BLOODNOK: You'll get the military piano and bar for this. Now explain the victorious positions of our defeated troops.

HUGH JAMPTON: Ah... intelligence ah... has established that ah... the people attacking us are… are the enemy.

BLOODNOK: So that's their fiendish game is it?

SEAGOON: Gentlemen, do the enemy realise that you have this information?

BLOODNOK: No, no, we got 'em fooled. They think that we're the enemy.[2]

SEAGOON: What a perfect disguise!

MILLIGAN: Ha ha ha, yes you see Lieutenant Seagoon we have a plan - a plan of plin and ploof. The South Africans are magnificent fighters, and it's our intention to persuade them to come over to our side.

SEAGOON: Then that would finish the war, sir!

MILLIGAN: Oh no. (Laughs)  Ha ha ha. Oh dearie no!

SEAGOON: Then how would you keep it going?

MILLIGAN: England, my dear sir, is never short of enemies!

BLOODNOK: Of course not. The waiting room's full of 'em. Now Seagoon, sit down. Tell me, what's the time back in England?

SEAGOON: Twenty to four sir.

BLOODNOK: Ah. It's nice to hear the old time again. (Calls) Singhiz!


FX: Slapstick.

BLOODNOK: Get out of here now, will you! You see, Seagoon, how bad things are! That banana for instance – it's only been eaten once, and look at it!

SEAGOON: But sir, back in England they told me all was well.

BLOODNOK: Back in England all is well. It's here where the trouble lies.

GRAMS: Explosion.

BLOODNOK: (Over.) OHHHH! What, what, what?

GRAMS: Approach of old car back firing. Grinding of gear. Parping on bulb horn. Car explodes. Gusher of steam. Falls to bits. Huge explosion. Drop bits and pieces onto hard surface.

ECCLES: Well, I think I'll pull-up here.

BLOODNOK: I say you with the apparent teeth.

ECCLES: Oh, a soldier man. Hello soldier. BANG! BANG! Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang!  You're dead soldier!

SEAGOON: Let me talk to him. I speak Idiot fluently. (Does Eccles impression) Hello Ecclesssss.

ECCLES: Oh! You're from the old country.[3]

BLOODNOK: Neddie allow me to humour him with this mallet.

SEAGOON: No, no, no! Leave it to me. (Imitates Eccles) Tell us Mad Dan, what are you doing in Africa?

ECCLES: “What are you doing in Africa?” I translated. I'm here as an adviser to the British Army.

SEAGOON: Splendid. (As Eccles) What are you going to advise them?

ECCLES: Not to take me.

BLOODNOK: I respect your cowardice, sir. It warms my heart and gives old Denis a real smart idea. Come over here and warm yourself by this Recruiting-Sergeant.

SERGEANT: 'Ello 'ello 'ello my lad. You look a likely lad ‘dere.

ECCLES: (Rubbish.) Ullo ulloouolloummaha. Alaaclaaclucalamlla.

SERGEANT: Very gude, very gude, very gude ‘dere. Now ‘ere lad, 'ow would you like to 'ave a grandstand view of the opening night of the Battle of Spion Kop ‘dere?

BLOODNOK: Yes, just a moment Sergeant Spinerachah! He can have my place I tell you!

SERGEANT: Ho ho ho ho?

BLOODNOK: Yes, just by chance Sergeant I have a vacant uniform in the front rank. He'll see everything from there.

SERGEANT: Now then, you 'eard that very fair offer from the nice Major ‘dere.

ECCLES: Yes, he's a nice Major...


ECCLES: He's a nice man. How much do you want for dat?

BLOODNOK: Well, usually it's free, but just this once it will be seven shillings, so ah shall we say a pound?

ECCLES: A pound?

BLOODNOK: You said it.

ECCLES: Oh. I've only got a five-pound note.

BLOODNOK: Well, I'll take that and you can pay me the other four later.

FX: Cash register.

BLOODNOK: Oh, the old Military till!

SERGEANT: You're a very lucky lad there Mad Dan Eccles. I'll have a regiment call for you at six tomorrow morning. Meantime, here is the well-known 'Conks' Geldray – a sittin' target.

GELDRAY: Boy, in the war my conk holds its own.


MAX GELDRAY – “This Can’t Be Love” [4]


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic 'return to the story' link.

GRAMS: Cavalry on parade ground. Tramp of soldiers on gravel.

GREENSLADE: At dawn the British attack was mounted, not very well stuffed but beautifully mounted. Then suddenly through the stilled British front line, a lone voice is heard.

MORIARTY: (approaching) Lucky charms. Get your lucky charms before the battle. Get your lucky charms, boys.

(Sings) Get your self a charm today,

and save yourself from harm today.



WILLUM: ‘Ere, mate charm-man. ‘Ere!

MORIARTY: What is it merry drummer man?

WILLIUM: Them charms, are they any cop mate?

MORIARTY: Ah, they're real cop mate – Nelson brought one for Waterloo.

WILLIUM: (Thinks) ‘Ere – he weren't at Waterloo.

MORIARTY: Of course not! He was in my shop buying a charm. You see how lucky they are?

WILLIUM: How much is a good one then?

MORIARTY: Well tell me, what part don't you want to be wounded in?

WILLIUM: I don't want any of me parts wounded.

MORIARTY: I know, you want the all parts comprehensive charm.

WILLIUM: Hurry up then – how much??

MORIARTY: Three shillings, it's a real bargain with barg!

WILLIUM: There, snail eater. I pins it on me chest so me chest won't get killed.

FX: Single pistol shot.

WILLIUM: (Going) Oww Mate!

FX: Thud of body to floor.

MORIARTY: Good shot Grytpype!

GRYTPYPE: Unpin the lucky charm and back on the tray with it. Off you go Morinantrilly.

MORIARTY: Charms, second hand lucky charms. (Self-fade.) Only used once before...

GRYTPYPE: There he goes, a true son of France and Hyde Park. Who knows what mystic thoughts are whispering in the mossy glades of his krutty shins.

SECOMBE: (Calls from distance.) I say, do you mind taking your hat off, old chap! The battle's about to begin, and we can't see you know.


GRAMS: Battle starts - First the volleys of musketry, Then distant cannons. The return fire of the enemy is even more distant. Fade down and under. Fade in Big Ben chiming. Fade under.

PRIME MINISTER: Gentlemen of the house, the Battle of Spion Kop opened last night.

OMNES: (Chorus of murmurs.) Here! Here!

PRIME MINISTER: Ah, but I fear it got very bad notices in the Press.

MP SPRIGGS: You're not thinking of taking it off are you, Mr Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, unless Robert Morley puts some money in I can see no other way.

MP SPRIGGS: But I mean, what about Binkie and his backers?[5] They'll lose all their money.

PRIME MINISTER: Patience sir, patience. We have here Lieutenant Seagoon who will proceed to give us the reasons for the disaster.[6]

SEAGOON: Thank you, Honourable Members. The reason for it flopping was obvious – there isn't one decent song in the whole battle.

SIR JERVIS FRUIT:[7] But soldier fellow, the Battle of Spion Kop isn't a musical you know!

SEAGOON: And that's where we went wrong. If the Americans had been running it they'd have had Rex Harrison and the other wrecks.

SIR JERVIS FRUIT: Do you know any good composers of battle songs and scores?

SEAGOON: Just by chance and careful planning, I have an Auntie in Grimsby who sits amongst the cabbages and plays an elastic water tank under supervision.

SIR JERVIS FRUIT: I didn't know there were any of her kind left you know.

PRIME MINISTER: Now off you go and tell your auntie the good news.

GRAMS: Running footsteps. (Pre-recorded with piano accompaniment.)

                    SECOMBE: (Sings) Land of Hope and Glory,

Mother of the Free, 
How shall we extol thee,

who are born of thee? 
Wider still, and wider,

shall thy bounds be set; 
God, who made thee mighty,

make thee mightier yet! 

(Speed the whole thing up to infinity and fade into the distance.)

ORCHESTRA: Dramatic chords.

FX: Hammering of a metal hammer on anvil.

CRUN: (Over hammering. With effort.) Agh, agh! There, now that's got the spoons in fine spoon-fettle Min.

FX: Two spoons together in rhythm.

CRUN: (Sings along.) Na ha ha ha, ma ma ha. Now Min, get inside the piano and select me a tuning A.

GRAMS: A sheep bleating.

CRUN: Again Min.

GRAMS: A sheep bleating.

CRUN: Oh, they don't make pianos like that any more.

BANNISTER: Isn't it time we had it shorn Henry?

CRUN: No, not yet Min. The winters aren't upon us, you know. Hand me my knuckle oils.

BANNISTER: Rub it well into the knuckles until it's mixed with Indian brandyyy.

CRUN & BANNISTER: (cries of “rub it in”, “brandy.”)

FX: Agonising knuckle cracking.

CRUN: It's no good Min – these carminatives are no good I tell you.[8]

BANNISTER: You’ve heard! You’ve heard!

CRUN: Oh, I've got the flat-feet in the third knuckle you know Min. Ah well – now to try for the Paganini Variations for spoons arranged – CRUN.[9]

GRAMS: Paganini variations played by Heifetz, on old gramophone player.

FX: (Over.) Spoons playing along.

CRUN: (Over both.) Da, da, da…&c. Stop! Stop! Stop! This spoon is out of tune, Min. Have you been eating with it again?


CRUN: Then what's that your stirring the soup with?

BANNISTER: A violin.

CRUN: She's always got an answer the old cow. Now to compose the last tune for the battle of Spion KOP!

FX: Two pairs of spoons in tempo.

BANNISTER & CRUN: (Sing together) Goodbye Dolly I must leave you,

                                        goodbye Dolly I must go…[10]

GRAMS: Bring up noises of battle – rifle fire, distant cannons. End with one enormous explosion.

BLOODNOK: Aaaaaaaahhhh! Ellinga, turn the volume of that battle down.

FX: Door bursts open.

SEAGOON: Major! The enemy are...


GRAMS: Single whoosh.

SEAGOON: Good heavens, he's gone. Ah! Here are his boots. They're still warm – he can't be far.

BLOODNOK: (Slightly distant) Aaahhh, there ain't nobody here but us chickens I tell you.

SEAGOON: The voice came from a cowardly red-face on the top of a chicken wardrobe.

BLOODNOK: Oh, it's you Seagoon, you… you coward,

SEAGOON: Why have you deserted your post?

BLOODNOK: It's got woodworm sir.

SEAGOON: Old jokes won't save you.

BLOODNOK: They saved Monkhouse and Goodwin. Well that's good enough for me.

SEAGOON: Major, there's still hope. Crun's vital battle songs have arrived:

BLOODNOK: It won't be easy sir. The enemy have just attacked in E-flat, and we had to retire to G-minor.

SEAGOON: Never mind sir, these old songs are all written in six-sharps.[11]

BLOODNOK: Oh, the most powerful brown key of them all. Get Ellinga and his Zulu bones to dash off a chorus towards the enemy.



RAY ELLINGTON – “Mr. Success” [12]


ORCHESTRA: Dramatic wartime link.

GRAMS: Bugle calls at varying pitches, from close and distant positions. Cavalry galloping past.

SEAGOON: At dawn, under cover of daylight we took up our positions with our teeth blacked out.

AGED VETERAN: Every man has his ammunition pouches bulging with offensive military songs and spoons at the ready.

SEAGOON: Right. We'll just have to sit and wait.

(Long pause)

BLUEBOTTLE: Do you think we're going to win, Captain?

SEAGOON: Never was victory more certain, little lad.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh. Then why have you got that taxi waiting for you at the end of the trench?

SEAGOON: Ha ha... Well here's half-a-crown little lad. I think we can forget all about it now.

BLUEBOTTLE: No. I can't forget about it.

FX: Colossal clout.

BLUEBOTTLE: (In tears) Ahhi! I’ve forgotten about it.

SEAGOON: Now explain to me why you're lying down two-inches below the level of the ground and speaking through a tombstone.

BLUEBOTTLE: Well, I was doing an impression of a zebra crossing when SKRELLS! – a taxi runned over me breaking both my boots above the wrist.

SEAGOON: What agony igony ogony oogany mahogany! Did it hurt you?

BLUEBOTTLE: No because I'm making it all up. Tee hee...


GRAMS: Taxi approaches at terrific speed. Terrific jelly splosh.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ooohee!. You've taxied me. Look, the Christmas string’s coming off my legs.

SEAGOON: Swallow this first-aid book and custard. I'll have your legs re-lacquered free and exported to Poland.

BLUEBOTTLE: You're a fair man sir. Merryl Krilbins!

ECCLES: Ooh, Bottle. What you doing under that taxi?

BLUEBOTTLE: It ran over me, Eccles,

ECCLES: You must be rich. I can only afford to be run over by buses.

BLUEBOTTLE: Well my man, when you're in the big money you know, you can do things like that.

ECCLES: You’ll see, one day I'll have enough money to be run over by a Rolls-Royce with a chauffeur.

BLUEBOTTLE: Well, pull me out then.

ECCLES: Right-oh. Hold this.

BLUEBOTTLE: What is it?

ECCLES: I don't know, but I got it cheap.

SEAGOON: Let me see what you got cheap?

GRAMS: Tiger growl.

SEAGOON: Good heavens. It's a genuine hand operated 1914 tiger!

BLOODNOK: Seagoon, put that tiger back in its stripes. We don't want any scandals during ladies night.

ABDUL: Pardon me, sir. All the men are ready with their music.

BLOODNOK: Good, let's have those spoons then lad.

ORCHESTRA: Massed spoon playing.

BLOODNOK: Oooh... what a terrifying sound. It's a good job nobody heard it.

SEAGOON: (Commands) Now men, to your military Crun music and take up your vocal positions with your voices facing outwards.

BLOODNOK: And don't sing men until you see the whites of their song sheets. Are you ready? Bugler, sound the elephant.

GRAMS: High pitched trumpeting by single elephant.


HUGH JAMPTON: Here they come now, sir.

BLOODNOK: Quick, me spoons and me music. I'll show 'em.

FX: Two spoons busking in tempo under.

BLOODNOK: (Sings) Goodbye Dolly I Must Leave You

I do not want to go…

(shouts) Come on you fools! There's more of this where this came from.

(continues singing) I do not want to go…&c

(shouts) Sing up lads!

CAST: All join in singing and rattling spoons.

GRAMS: Shells start bursting in their midst. Starting slowly and increasing in intensity.

BLOODNOK: (Continues to sing but gradually his morale is destroyed, he breaks off.) Run for it lads! Oooh, these songs aren't bullet proof. AHHH-EOUGH!

GRAMS: Whole army runs away yelling in terror. Speed up and fade.


GRAMS: Arctic gale howling. Occasional wolves.

BLOODNOK: Ooh! Eoughie! That's far enough lads. Where are we?

SEAGOON: The South Pole sir.

BLOODNOK: Well, no further. We don't want to back into them. Plant the Union Jack will you – the national flag of the Union of Jacks. I claim the South Pole in the name of Gladys Plills of thirteen The Sebastopol Villas, Sutton.

SEAGOON: Who is she, sir?

BLOODNOK: I don't know, but obviously we're doing her a big favour.

SEAGOON: There's still a chance of victory. Look what I've got in the brown paper parcel.

FX: Rustling of paper.

BLOODNOK: Good heavens – white paper! What a glorious victory for England.

SEAGOON: Look under the stamp.

BLOODNOK: What! A fourteen-inch naval gun.

ECCLES: And guess what's in the barrel?

BLOODNOK: I've no idea.

SEAGOON: Major, inside the barrel are photographs of a British military dinner.

BLOODNOK: Really? (Keep it going lads, keep it going.)

SEAGOON: I intend to fire that photograph at the enemy canteen during their lunch break. When they see the size of British military dinners they'll desert.

BLOODNOK: I know. Half our men deserted when they saw the size of 'em. However it's worth a try. Take aim... fire!

GRAMS: Colossal explosion. Followed by piles of bones falling on to the ground.

BLUEBOTTLE: Ehhh... that's the last time I kip in a barrel, I tell you. Collapses, and is left out of show from now onwards. Goodnight everybody.

GRAMS: Cheers, applause.

BLUEBOTTLE: Oh... by popular request I come back again.

FX: Slapstick.


SEAGOON: All we can do is to wait and see what effect that photograph of a military dinner has on the enemy. Meantime a sound effect.

GRAMS: Wind up and wolves howling.

GREENSLADE: Meantime in Parliament the British Government had written off the Battle of Spion Kop as a dead loss.

ELDER STATESMAN: Gentlemen, to save face and the honour of England, we're going to bring back that old favourite – the Battle of Waterloo.

CAST: Ancient murmurs of approval

ELDER STATESMAN: Gentlemen, we shall send out immediate notification to the original cast.

ORCHESTRA: Marseillaise-type link


FX: Door opening

FRENCH NEDDIE: Mon Emperor, wake-up!

MORIARTY BONAPARTE: How dare you wake the Emperor Napoleon up in the middle of his retirement.

FRENCH NEDDIE: Wonderful news! By special request we have to do an encore of the Battle of Waterloo.

MORIARTY BONAPARTE: What! But we lost it.

FRENCH NEDDIE: This time we've got a British backer.

MORIARTY BONAPARTE: Sapristi nabolas. Get my trousers oiled and unwrap a fresh Josephine. Ahh, there's going to be fun tonight in the camp!

FX: Slapstick

GRYTPYPE: Down Emperor down. Back to your grave. You know you're not allowed out after your death.

MORIARTY BONAPARTE: Blast these silly rules.

GRYTPYPE: My card Neddie.

SEAGOON: This is a piece of string.

GRYTPYPE: Have you no imagination lad. I am Lord Ink.

SEAGOON: Not Pennan?

GRYTPYPE: Yes Pennan Ink.

ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord in C

SEAGOON: (Don't worry folks, it's getting near the end now. Any pay offs will be gratefully received.)

GRYTPYPE: (One coming up, Ned.) Unfortunately my client Moriarty is appearing in 'The Death of Napoleon' at the local knackers yard. It looks like being a very long run.

SEAGOON: It looks like being a long run? What does?

GRYTPYPE: Ten miles.

FX: Pistol shot.

GRYTPYPE: They're off!

GRAMS: Two pairs of running feet

SEAGOON: (panting) As we ran we discussed the contract for the Battle of Waterloo. Later at Preston Barracks Brighton, we auditioned for the part of the Duke of Wellington.

GRAMS: Fade in music hall artist singing 'Any Old Iron' with smart backing.

SEAGOON: (Calls) Thank you. Wait inside the piano one moment will you. (Close) What do you think?

GRYTPYPE: He's not the Lord Wellington type you know.

SEAGOON: Yes. (Shouts) I say, we'll write and let you know.

WILLIUM: (Distant) Let me know what?

SEAGOON: That you're no good for the part.

WILLIUM: (Distant) Right - I won't take another job till I hear that, then.

SEAGOON: Next please.

FX: Pair of thick hobnailed boot clomp across floor.

ECCLES: (sings) I'll follow my secret heart till I find you...

SEAGOON: (Calls) One moment. (Close)  Where's my pistol?

GRYTPYPE: No Neddie, no! One moment...

MORIARTY BONAPARTE: Grytpype! With Eccles playing the part of Wellington this time the French are bound to win the battle of Waterloo.

GRYTPYPE: Right.  (Calls) Eccles?


GRYTPYPE: Button the hat and sword. Now charge...

GRAMS: Great galloping of horses into distance with volleys of rifle fire.

SEAGOON: (in tears) No! We've… we've lost the Battle of Waterloo.

MORIARTY: (Approaching) Get your new history books here. Read how the French won Waterloo, folks. (Self-fade)

FX: Phone rings.


BLOODNOK: Seagoon, look here, a right twit you made of yourself firing that photo of a dinner at the enemy. Do you know what they've fired back?


BLOODNOK: The photograph of an empty plate.

SEAGOON: Ha-ha! An empty plate. Well, there you are folks – the old anti-climax again.

ORCHESTRA: 'Old Comrades March' playout.

GRAMS: Distant cannon bombardment behind.

ORCHESTRA: Ray Ellington Quartet.




[1] “Soldiers of the King” (or Queen, as is appropriate) was written by Leslie Stuart around 1894.

[2] Sellers misreads this.

[3] Milligan improvises for a moment saying to the audience: “Someone else from the old country out there, ehi? Well, I wish they were back there.”

[4] A show tune from the 1938 Broadway musical “The Boys from Syracuse” by Rodgers and Hart. Nat “King” Cole had released a version of it in 1954 and Ella Fitzgerald in 1956.

[5] Hugh ‘Binkie’ Beaumont (1908-1973) was an immensely powerful British impresario.


[6] Sellers pronounces it as disaister. Why? Who knows.


[7] Sellers. This is the voice he uses in “Personnal Narrative” (8/7th) and also the Chief Inspector Jervis Fruit in “The Case of the Mukkinese Battlehorn” (Joseph Sterling 1956).

[8] Another of Spike’s strange lexicon of words to do with flatulence. A carminative is a herb or preparation that relieves flatulence. Because of Min’s response it is evident that Crun was trying to prevent himself farting.


[9] Niccolò Paganini (pronounced by Sellers as Paja-nainy,) (1782-1840) was an Italian violinist and composer. He was one of the greatest violin virtuosos of his time. His Caprices for solo violin, written between 1802 and 1817 finishes with the famous 24th Caprice, which takes the form of a theme with 11 variations and a finale. It is still considered one of the most difficult pieces ever written for violin.

[10] “Goodbye Dolly Grey” is a music hall song by Cobb and Barnes sometime around 1898.

[11] Like many of Spike’s apparently strange references, this one was based firmly on reality. Firstly, six sharps indicates the key of F# major and it involves all of the black notes of a piano, making it quite hard for amateur musicians to play and to read. Milligan, as a reasonably good musician (both as a singer, a trumpeter, a guitarist and a bass player) would have found F# major the devil to play, as, on most instruments apart from the piano it is a tangled, troublesome key to get right. Over the years Spike would have played many hits by the great jazz composer Irving Berlin (1888-1989) who was renowned for writing everything in F# major. Arrangers always altered the keys of his songs (eg: “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, “White Christmas”, “There’s No Business like Show Business”) to more suitable keys, but it was a common legend amongst musicians that Irving “could only play on the black notes!”. The other aspect of this reference  is that Spike’s wartime friend Harry Edgington (after whose name the tag line “Ying Tong” was coined) was an accomplished pianist and jazz composer. During the war he and Spike played many times together for Battery dances. Harry’s greatest problem was that he wrote all his own songs in F# major too.


[12] Written in 1958 by Frank Sinatra and  Hank Sanicola and was set to music by Edwin Greines. It was released in October of that year by Sinatra accompanied by the Nelson Riddle orchestra. It charted in the UK at number 25.