I’ve got a couple of vinyl copies of “At The Drop Of A Hat”. They turn up in charity shops from time to time. Those responsible maybe from the 1950s but the genius of Flanders & Swann never wanes.
For those of us who grew up in the 1960s there are songs that embedded in our childhood. “Junior Choice” was a BBC programme broadcast on Radio 1 and 2. From that regular show there’s a whole string of comic sings that I cannot erase from my memories.
There one song that we are told started life in Scarsdale Villas, South Kensington, South West London. Now, a part of London where the house prices mount in the millions.
Introducing each of their songs there was often a monologue saying something about the song. So, we know, uniquely one famous song is inspired by a badly parked car but is about an animal.
It goes like this. Michael Flanders was a wheelchair user. Kensington Borough Council helpfully dug out a part of the pavement and curb outside his flat so that he could get around. He recounts his annoyance that a thoughtless driver would often steal his parking space.
In his monologue he jokingly praises the independent minded councillors of Kensington adding – there’re all Conservatives. That little bit of humour is so British. It maybe goes to the heart of the BBC’s current problems. They could be saying to us all: “of course we are independent, we are all conservatives.” Equating conservative attitudes to being “independent” is the norm in my part of Surrey.
Back to the song. The antisocial parked car’s number plate began with the letters GNU. The rest is comic history. The two wrote: “The Gnu.“
To make the song work. They pronounced the animal’s name “G-noo”. What could be better than a word that rhymed with “zoo”. A place where we might find a Gnu.
The English language was changed forever.
Perhaps the lesson for the BBC is to look at its comic history. Learn lessons. To rise above the serious and intense debate of the moment, concede and reflect in amusement, and at leisure.
Sport is entertainment but so is politics when it gets absurd and ridiculous.
 a large African antelope with a long head, a beard and mane, and a sloping back. Also called a wildebeest.