21st September 2007
The most recent event of the Margery Alllingham Society was the celebration of 70 Years of Dancers in Mourning on 21st September 2007. This was a joint event with the Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge Appreciation Society, known as JHACCAS, and the evening was much enjoyed by both groups. After a meal served from the club kitchen, the programme began with the Allingham section, with readings from the novel by John Hines, Seona Ford and Barry Pike and songs from The Buffer, the show in the book, composed by Maurice Bentley and performed by John and Seona. Two of the songs had lyrics by Margery Allingham -- 'A Thousand, A Million to One' and 'Water-lily Girl' -- but for the other two, 'Leave It to Me' and 'Little White Petticoats', Maurice had only the titles to inspire him. The latter of these was sung with zest by Virginia Dignam, co-opted at the last minue by the composer. Maurice accompanied the singers at the piano and even provided background music to the readings where appropriate.
The second part of the evening consisted of original recordings of some of the great stars of the musical shows of the 1930s, contempories and peers of Jimmy Sutane and Slippers Bellew, the stars of The Buffer. Evelyn Laye, Jessie Matthews, Bobby Howes and, of course, the Hulberts all sang for us; but the stars of the show were Jack Buchanan and Elsie Randolph, his regular partner. Jack Buchanan is certainly the nearest real-life equivalent to Jimmy Sutane, and he deserved his prominence.
The second half was conducted by Maurice Bentley, whose informed and entertaining commentary added greatly to the audience's enjoyment. He was very much the hero of the hour , as composer, lyricist, pianist and master of ceremonies. His delightful songs will be published in future issues of 'The Bottle Street Gazette'.
Anyone wishing to know more of JHACCAS should get in touch with the Chairman, David Wicks, on 020 8952 9938. The postal address is 45 Buckingham Gardens, Little Stanmore, Edgware HA8 6NB.
Text © Barry Pike
Photos of Margery courtesy The Margery Allingham Society
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