Google Analytics

Saturday, 8 January 2022

I am a Mole

We were sitting quietly, me reading the newspaper and Mrs. D. getting on with some important knitting.

“I am a mole and I live in a hole,” I suddenly exclaimed.

Mrs. D. looked concerned, as if I had acquired some kind of cognitive deficit. She had heard the phrase at the group she runs for people with memory problems, where one lady sometimes comes out the very same line, just as I had.  

I had to explain that the newspaper contained an obituary of someone called Allan Wilmot* who had died in October, aged 96. I had never heard of him, but, along with his brother Harry, he had been a member of a Jamaican-British singing group, The Southlanders, who had enjoyed moderate success in the nineteen-fifties. I’d never heard of The Southlanders, either, but I knew their song: ‘I am a Mole and I Live in a Hole’. It was often played on Uncle Mac’s Children’s Favourites and at other times on the station then known as The Light Programme when I was little. I doubt I’ve heard it in sixty years, but the way the title line is performed is unforgettable. “I am a mole, and I live in a hole. Dum dum dum dum.”

Listening now, it’s great, although I doubt you’ll thank me for it.

I'm not a bat or a rat or a cat,
I'm not a gnu or a kangaroo,
I'm not a goose or a moose on the loose,
I am a mole and I live in a hole.

I'm not a cow or a chow or a sow,
I'm not a snake or a hake or a drake,
I'm not a flea or a wee chimpanzee,
I am a mole and I live in a hole.

Yarg yarg, quarck quarck, fried boiled or roast,
You're the slick chick I dig the most.

I'm not a ram or a clam or a lamb,
I'm not a hog or a frog or a dog,
I'm not a bus or a hip-potomus,
I am a mole and I live in a hole.

There were a lot of these ‘novelty songs’ on the ‘wireless’ before 1960. I would hear them as I moved my toy cars, trains and farm animals around the floor while my mother did the housework. I remember Pickin’ a Chicken, a Little Blue Man with a funny voice, Seven Little Girls huggin’ and a’kissin’ with Fred, an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini, some creeps Standing on the Corner Watching all the Girls Go By, and that one full of terrible puns on the names of American States. Most were either silly, irritating or both, although not as irritating as the awful show-offs who learnt the words and insisted on singing them to you.

But I quite like ‘I Am A Mole’.  Mrs. D.’s memory group liked it too - members and helpers - although, sadly, the lady who seemed to know it hardly reacted at all. 

Evidently, The Southlanders eventually tired of it and wanted to take it out of their act, but audiences always expected them to perform it.


The video link, if you can’t see it, is: https://youtu.be/zs7nTAmMuwY

* Allan Wilmot came to Britain in 1947 after wartime service with both the Royal Navy and the RAF. After leaving ‘The Southlanders’ he became a Post Office Telephone Operator and helped set up the West Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Association. His elder brother, Harold (Harry) Wilmot, arrived in Britain on the Empire Windrush in 1948, and was father of the actor, singer and comedian Gary Wilmot. He died in 1961 when Gary was 6.

49 comments:

  1. "Listening now, it’s great, although I doubt you’ll thank me for it." You're right!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So Allan Wilmot of the Mole song passed away last October?
    I heard that Mark Wirtz, composer of (unfinished) A Teenage Opera died in August 2020. You will remember his 1967 single Grocer Jack.

    There are In Memoriam (YouTube) videos of artists and who slipped away often unnoticed these last years. Singer songwriters, actors etc.
    You could post one or two In Memoriams yourself, Tasker.

    I found Robert Calasso's *The Book of All Books* at the Waterstones' sale only to learn from the dustjacket that he died in Milan in 2021.
    His short *The Art of the Publisher* (Penguin 2015) is a gem and he wrote enigmatic books on Kafka + Baudelaire.

    Popular songs lodge in shared memory and it is good to pause and remember the composer/performer when they leave us.
    Haggerty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, October 2021. The obituary was some weeks later.
      I guess that from the 1950s the number of people in the public eye grew exponentially, too many to reach the obituaries now occurring.
      I remember a lot of strange things but Grocer Jack is not one of them.

      Delete
    2. 1967 was a good pop song year: you can judge Grocer Jack for yourself on YouTube. Mark Wirtz abandoned his project long ago.

      I will remember adorable Una Stubbs and droll Charlie Watts who esteemed jazz before rock.
      Christopher Plummer, George Segal, Ed Asner and Floris Leachman (The Last Picture Show) were major screen presences.

      I shall miss Donald Rumsfeld like I miss a septic throat.
      Haggerty

      Delete
  3. I can remember the line 'mole in a hole' but not the song. So many bits and pieces float around in my memory, leaving little space for more important memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remembered the line very clearly with the following four, but I will admit my memory of the tune wasn't quite right.

      Delete
  4. I am very familiar with the song and it was a regular in my family and we would sing along to it. I am assuming that Mrs D is a good bit younger than you if she looked at you like you were mad or however it was you described.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was more that it echoed the member of the memory group, although your assumption is not wrong. That being said, it is disturbing to be told the ages of some who attend.

      Delete
    2. The way you told the story was that she had heard it at the memory group indicating to me that she had not heard it other than there. I believe I was right as you have said that indeed my assumption was not wrong. Anyone of a certain age remembers it and Uncle Mac and singing along to the radio or the gramaphone in the 1950s.

      Delete
    3. She hadn't heard the song before, just the single line spoken by the memory group member from time to time completely out of context.

      Delete
    4. The memory group didn't seem to know it either, not even the volunteers who are mostly in their sixties and seventies.

      Delete
    5. Well well well. Perhaps it a class thing and they didn't listen to Uncle Mac, they were all down the mines or in't mill.

      Delete
  5. I remember Mole In A Hole and Grocer Jack (who lived in a shack, and had something to do [I think] with the Grata Garbo Home for wayward boys and girls). Ah, happy days! (If only they were here again, as in the song.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are long lists of novelty songs online. I don't think the The Greta Garbo makes the list - Manfred Mann "My name Is Jack" - but it was certainly quirky.

      Delete
    2. Ah, it was My Name is Jack which I was thinking of, not Grocer Jack. The Greta Garbo Home was mentioned in My Name Is Jack.

      Delete
    3. Spot on! 1967 was the best year ever (except for changing schools and country again).

      Delete
  6. Dear Tasker, what a funny song - I will make a note and it will be used - in time, they are only two and a half - to introduce the triplets to English songs.
    (Though I fear it might have the potential to become an earwig).
    Life is going round in circles: now I sit and "move toy cars, trains and farm animals around the floor" with them - back to the roots! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't thought of it in that way, but it would be a brilliant song to help learn foreign words. Our children's farm animals are all in the loft. Mrs. D. hopes to be able to have the opportunity to move them around the floor again.

      Delete
  7. That's kind of cute, I can see how it would appeal to four year olds.
    I remember Seven Little girls sittin' in the back seat kissin' and a huggin' with Fred (Chorus: 'something something' keep your hands on the wheel, keep your silky eyes on the road ahead) I also remember Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and those boys Standing on the Corner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It says "snoopy eyes" online. I got told off for singing "keep your dirty eyes on the road ahead", but that's how I heard it.

      Delete
    2. Thank you. I learned "silky" because that's what my dad sang.

      Delete
  8. Well that has brought up memories, you have forgotten this one which my brother and I used to sing. 'She Will be Coming Round the Mountain'. A Peter Seeger version....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8omnDLNcFcs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The list is of the songs I especially remembered from the nineteen-fifties, but there loads of others from every decade. I can never sing "Coming Round The Mountain" without singing the descant line.

      Delete
  9. Thanks for reminding me of that song. When it was played on the radio I used to sing along to it with my Dad who had a lovely deep voice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds a good memory. But is it also an admission you are one of those people who knows all the words? Unfortunately, as a result of this post, so do I now.

      Delete
  10. I never heard that one before. I think that it has to be part of a memory. Hearing it for the first time at 64, well...let's just say I didn't get all the way through it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could be, but I do find the way the title line is sung and recorded with a deep voice, 'posh' round vowels and a slight echo as if speaking out of a hole is very funny, especially to English ears. My wife hadn't heard it before and laughed at the end of each verse.

      Delete
  11. I never heard that one, but admittedly, I have always had a soft spot for the yellow polka dot bikini.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don't remember ever having heard that song but the delivery of title line rings some bells somewhere in the noggin and had me laughing. Mr B probably would know it/remember it but he's not here today to enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the way it's performed and recorded. So funny.

      Delete
  13. That's a great novelty song. Thanks for tipping it to me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll be awake at 4.00 a.m. with it running through your head.

      Delete
  14. That's funny, I could have sworn that that song was a hit for The Rolling Stones. We could do with more novelty songs like that. None of that tiresome rapping malarkey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With Charlie Watts doing the title line. Brilliant. Followed up by "We're having fun, sitting in the back seat, kissin' and a hugging with Bill".

      Delete
    2. There'd be more than kissing and a-hugging if Mick was in the back.

      Delete
  15. "Listening now, it’s great, although I doubt you’ll thank me for it." How wrong you were. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed being reminded of it and the other songs too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Graham - say that again at three o'clock in the morning!
      There's a super video on YouTube of Seven Little Girls with puppets in the back of the car: https://youtu.be/u1cjaheraq8

      Delete
  16. Omgosh. This is my first visit to your blog (via River) and I'm so glad I didn't miss this post! This song is great. It's fun! Thanks for sharing. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks for visiting and following MMM. Pleased you like the post. The one River posted is great, too - see link in reply above for a different video.

      Delete
  17. How strange and interesting is that. I must have known that phrase most of my life and yet I've never for a moment paused to think where it came from. It reminds me of the songs we used to sing in the car as children - bet few do that nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our two (born in the nineties) used to sit in the back wearing headphones fast asleep in their own private bubbles.

      Delete
  18. Instantly remembered that! What about Sparky and the Magic piano? The laughing policeman, Ugly Duckling, There's a hole in my bucket. All Children's favourites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good ones! I remember those too. There were loads and loads of them. My short list was those that came first to mind as being on the radio when I was very little.

      Delete
  19. Funny! I don't think I've ever heard this song. Maybe it never made it across the pond? I remember the "itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini," but not the song making puns of American state names -- and you'd think that would have been a hit in the states!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What did Delaware boy ... she wore a brand New Jersey ... Why did Calla phone yer ... she phoned to say how-are-ye. Truly dreadful. Perry Como. I believe it was a hit in the States around 1959.

      Delete

I welcome comments and usually respond the same day (unless it looks like you are trying to advertise something).