"An early example of H.G. Pélissier, as a composer, looking to commercialise music via the latest technology.”
Between October and November 1909, The Follies recorded twenty-two songs and comic sketches with the Odeon Record Label - an extraordinary number in such a relatively short span of time. Typically of The Follies, they were audaciously satirical, touching on themes as risqué and diverse as jingoistic hysteria, substance abuse and contemporary politics; subjects that could have attracted censorship and which other artists might have considered taboo.
These pieces have rarely, if ever, been heard in public since they first went on sale – six in June 1910, a further four in March 1911, and then finally another four in 1922. They came at a price of 4 shillings per disc or in a set of six at 24 shillings with a smart sleeve to contain them. Eight recordings, it would seem, never went on release
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Mary was contrary in her methods and her ways -Contrary Kid in all she did -
She kept a market garden in the purlieus of the Gray’s….. Inn Road
But strange to say her garden grew and such abundance showed,
That an army of envious rivals all appeared at her strange abode.
But Mary ne’er a word replied, as in their jealousy they cried,
Oh! Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
There’s trim cut box and beds of Phlox, and Dainty Stocks and Hollyhocks,
Chrysanthemums and Golden Plums, your system we’d like to know.
So, don’t be hard on us – Beg Pardon, how does your garden grow?
Mary was too wary to inform them how ‘twas done.
Till, strange to say, she wed one day –
Her husband gained the secret on returning from the Honeymoon.
He tracked her round the garden midst the onions and shallots,
And observed her to be surrounded by some dozens of tins and pots,
Their labels read, he popped his head from the cabbage plot and softly said,
Oh! Mary, Mary quite contrary, your little game I know.
You’ve dipped each bean in Phospherine (1), the Melons strewed with Mellin’s Food (2),
The Beets, of course, require some Force, and Maidenhair needs Tatcho (3),
And all your stocks so drenched with Oxo – that makes your garden grow.
Mary’s plan succeeded and her garden grew so well – it overflowed the Gray’s Inn Road.
But when it stopped the traffic, she was summoned by the L.C.C. (4)
Then Mary had to form a scheme to put an end to that,
So, she bought the largest bottle of the far-famed Anti-Phat (5).
She strewed it round her plot of ground, and quickly found the method sound.
Oh! Mary, Mary quite contrary, now does her garden grow.
Each ‘marrowfat’ is lean and flat, the plants all get more ‘mignon’ yet.
With microscopes the searcher gropes where cabbages used to show.
And the flowerbeds are a grand Sahara, none in the garden grow
1. Phosphorene. A medicinal tonic containing alcohol and quinine.
2. Mellin’s Food. Hair restorer containing alcohol and quinine.
3. Tatcho: Baby-food.
4. London County Council
5. Anti-Phat: Weight loss product
The first ever biography of H.G. Pélissier, satirist, composer and bohemian – one of the most famous Edwardians before WW1. A visionary forerunner of The Goons and Monty Python.
Recommended in The Times Writers' Favourite Books of 2022 by Quentin Letts.