Friday, 2 March 2012

I Have A Song To Sing O!

The big news of the day is that Engelbert Humperdinck will be warbling the Brit’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.  The boy can belt them out, as the audience in the Railwaymen’s Working Men’s Club on East Park Road used to say.  Although those at the billiards table complained that the vibrations he kicked up spoiled the run of the balls.

One pub he might be found at was the “Old Horse” for relaxation.  The pub did not do music and the rugger men who changed in the old stable at the back to play on Victoria Park could be asked to leave at the first hint of a chord.  It was a decent quiet pub where you could take a girl into the Lounge with confidence.

The real draw of the pub was the Cheese and Onion Cobs in the Smoke Room.  They were made with a smacking Red Leicester with a crisp crust and always fresh.  Arnold Dorsey as he then was more often was to be found in the Public Bar where the darts board was located.  He was good and you bet against him at your peril.

In another decade he might never have become a famous singer, he was late getting the big break and darts may have seemed the better option.  On the other hand as a likely lad with a big voice and presence there was another possibility.

In the Cocktail Bar round the back overlooking the stables a famous radio star was to be found.  It was Denis Folwell, then the original Jack Archer of the series “The Archers”, usually accompanied by one personable attractive lady or another.  They all had class as did Denis.

In the series he might be a bluff rural archetype.  In the Cocktail Bar he was suave, polished and courteous, but with the same voice.  It is possible that had somehow or another Arnold and Denis had made networking contact or some such and Denis realised the potential, then Arnold, later Engelbert might have turned up as a character in “The Archers”.

There is another twist to this tale and that is the 1960 book “The Art Of Coarse Rugby” written by Michael Green (Wikipedia).  The “Old Horse” is at the centre of this with three clubs all well known to Green using their stables to change and bath in.  They were then South Leicester, Vipers and Leicester Thursday, a mid week side.

Arnold was a well built lad, quick on his feet and who could take care of himself.  Had he been in the pub’ one lunch time when one of the teams was short of a player he might well found himself turning out for games in local rugby. 

Leicester Tigers was then an invitation club and it was quite often that they needed to draft in a good local man at a late stage.  If he was good enough and became a regular, then he could have been fixed up with a decent job in the office of the British United Shoe Machinery Company.

The fates decided otherwise.  What is your song O?


  1. "Yesterday", for me, Demetrius!

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