My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall

Terry Eagleton writes:

‘Whatever gifts my parents passed on to their children,’ Major remarks in My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall, ‘the talent to entertain was not among them,’ which must be one of the understatements of the decade. The title ‘Prime Minister of Mirth’ was awarded not to Major but to the music-hall comic George Robey, with his red nose and half-moon eyebrows. The two men have little in common beyond their right-wing views. It is true that many actors spring to life only when they step on stage. Yet one could be forgiven for thinking that even a couple of chartered accountants would be too emotionally extravagant to produce a man like Major. (There are photos of his father, Tom, looking like a cross between George Formby and Norman Wisdom, in the book.) What his parents did bequeath him, however, was a consuming interest in popular entertainment, which this lucid, erudite study distils to excellent effect.

(LRB 20 December 2012)

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