Many, many years ago, Mum took my sister and I to be part of the audience for a live broadcast of the BBC’s Pebble Mill at One. This was my first visit to BBC premises. Years later, my career in broadcasting would start in the same building in Birmingham. (In 2004, just before the studios closed to be demolished, I was back there for an interview. Confused, I managed to walk into the reception for Doctors rather than the building’s main reception.)
I have so many fond memories of Pebble Mill but perhaps the fondest was that visit to Pebble Mill at One in the early 1970s. The formidable actress Peggy Mount was the guest star that day and the musical interludes – there always seemed to be live music – came from The Bachelors.
At this distance, I can’t tell you what they sang but I do remember queuing up after the programme to collect the autographs of Con and Dec, two thirds of Ireland’s first boy band.
Why on earth, you ask, am I wandering down this particular anecdote avenue? Well, there is a reason. The first Bachelors song I can remember listening to was The Unicorn, a staple of Ed Stewart’s Junior Choice. I recently added that song to my playlist for Mum, hoping it might ring a very distant bell for her.
Sadly there doesn’t seem to be any recognition, but with a little improvisation, it has become a favourite. For those whose musical education is sadly lacking in The Bachelors oeuvre, the song details the story of why there are no unicorns in the world today. Apparently it was all down to the Biblical Flood, and the unicorns’ air-headed failure to join Noah’s ark: “Oh, them silly unicorns.”
The chorus lists the animals which did make it in to the ark, allowing me a chance to add actions to the words as Mum and I sing. My depiction of “humpty-back camels” and chimpanzees seems to amuse Mum and last week, she even tried some actions of her own.
When words mean so little, and any connection is fragile at best, I’m grateful to The Bachelors, their “humpty-back camels” and a chance visit to a television studios more than 40 years ago.