Here are some of my favourite Hourglass Factory related videos. They’re not all directly of the period – for instance, while The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze was written in 1867, this recording is from the 1920s. But they’re some of the finest music hall songs out there mixed with videos that inspired bits of the book…
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
Written in 1867 by George Leybourne, with music by Gaston Lyle, this music hall classic was an ode to Jules Léotard (yes, the man who made famous The Leotard). In the book it’s appropriated for Ebony Diamond’s performing theme as ‘The Daring Young Lass…’. I’d like to think her adoring fans changed some of the other lyrics too – as they aren’t that nice. This is my favourite YouTube version. It’s sung by 1920s American vaudeville performer Eddie Cantor and I love it not least for the fabulous graphics.
Jolly Good Luck to the Girl Who Loves a Soldier
This Vesta Tilley song is my very most treasured music hall tune and I could listen to it a dozen and a half times in a go without getting bored. Although made popular during World War I it was written in 1906, and there’s every chance Frankie would have hummed along to it during a night at the halls. I love the cheeky sending up of soldiers’ promiscuity. Vesta Tilley was one of the most famous male impersonators of the era, another being Ella Shields, known for her ‘Burlington Bertie from Bow’.
Naughty Victorian Days
Ok, it was written a little later than The Hourglass Factory, but let’s just call this one The Twinkle Theme Song.
I’d Like to Live in Paris All The Time (The Coster Girl in Paris)
Oh Marie Lloyd, Marie Lloyd, how I love Marie Lloyd’s chirping voice, and this line is golden:
if they’d only shift the
‘ackney Road and plant it
over there, I’d like to live in
Paris all the time.
Quite right Marie you pearl!
Scheherazade by Rimski-Korsakov
A ballet version of Rimski-Korsakov’s Scheherazade premiered in Paris in 1910, danced by the Ballets Russes, choreographed by Michel Fokine and designed by Léon Bakst. Bakst’s costumes caused a sensation and triggered a mad fad in orientalist fashion, inspiring many of the legendary designer Paul Poiret’s creations, who in turn inspired Milly’s orientalist style. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Ballets Russes came to London shortly afterwards with Scheherazade
but can I find it now? Of course not.
Rachel Brice at Le Serpent Rouge
Modern day American tribal bellydancer Rachel Brice’s serpentine style conceals a fearsome technique of muscle control and isolation. She’s a master of vintage-style bellydance, and knocks the socks off any of the oriental dancers from the turn of the century that I can find on video. What she does at 2.54 is outrageously cool (and impossible). If Brice had been hanging around Soho in 1912 there is no way Milly would have got that job at Jojo’s Cocoa Bar.
A Suffragette in Spite of Himself
This cute film was directed by Ashley Miller in 1912. Interesting that the wife is portrayed as an anti while the maid is pro-suffrage. Some of the era’s propaganda would have you believe that the suffragettes were very much a middle class organisation. Very funny nevertheless, especially when the man ‘chains himself to the railings’, (and great for Edwardian fashion-spotting).
Only a bird in a gilded cage
Thankfully none of the women in The Hourglass Factory are in this predicament, but the fact of its being such a big hit during the era means this song about a girl marrying for money and ending up miserable must have struck a chord with many an Edwardian woman’s plight. Here it’s sung by Florrie Forde, an Australian singer and one of the brightest stars of the period.
and of course…
Couldn’t resist. (Actually I tried to find the suffragette version of the Marseillaise but couldn’t, nor are there any YouTubes of the many suffragette songs of the period (pro or anti). So this anachronistic but smashing ditty will have to suffice).
That’s it! (although I reserve the right to change it at any moment when I get bored). If you’d like some more Edwardian music hall songs click here.