John Major’s memoir of his father gives us a front row seatby Ken Dodd / October 17, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
An 1893 programme for a music hall bill that includes the stars Marie Lloyd and Dan Leno
This gent phoned me the other day. “Listen!” he ses, “D’you fancy doing a write-up for us? A review?”
“How d’you mean?” I ses.
“John Major has written a book about his dad and the old music hall. Now you know a bit about this! So how about it? We’ll give you a few bob,” he ses.
“Right,” I ses. “I’ll get up and get dressed. When do I start?”
The words “music hall” bring to mind the picture of a raucous mob, howling and bellowing their old familiar phrases, the same heckling lines you hear at prime minister’s question time: “Rubbish! Codswallop! Resign!” Back when he was in office, facing the hecklers at PMQs, John Major would endeavour to bring order, to calm things down with his patient and reasonable manner. He brings the same diligence and clear thinking to My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall, an account of one of our much-loved institutions told through the story of his father, Tom Major-Ball, who began his music hall career aged 17, when Queen Victoria was still on the throne.