Tuesday, 8 January 2019

I can only watch you with my nose pressed up against the window pane

From the biography Miss Shirley Bassey by John L Williams:
[Shirley Bassey's then-husband] Kenneth Hume... began to develop something called The Secret Keepers. This was to have been a TV comedy series featuring Alma Cogan as a private eye. Hume would appear to have shot a pilot episode though one that never seems to have been broadcast. However, the Daily Mail ran a story about the show, illustrated with location photos. One of these still features Shirley holding up a sign saying "Husband and four agents to support."

According to the supporting text, the show featured Alma Cogan's P.I. hunting down a runaway husband played by Frankie Howerd. In the course of her search she bumps into Shirley, playing a street busker (thus the sign). Alma offers her a penny for a song and Shirley responds by throwing a brick through her window.

How verrry camp! I'd love to have seen that episode. Just two months later, however...
...the papers were full of the story of their marriage breaking down: "I won't go back to him. My marriage is over. I have given my wedding and engagement rings back to my husband. My belongings are packed and ready to be taken away at our house."
So what happened? According to Miss Bassey's then-manager Mike Sullivan:
"Early one evening I took a telephone call from her home in West London. She was hysterical and distraught. She had caught Hume in bed, making love to her chauffeur."

The biography goes on:
Shirley's life... had been one of non-stop drama, and now her music was starting to reflect that. From this point on, she joined the company of Judy Garland, Edit Piaf et al., women whose music was inseparable from their turbulent lives. In I (Who Have Nothing), Shirley the woman and Shirley the singer are indistinguishable. We know it from that first dramatic syllable - "I" - and from here on in, neither she nor her audience would be in danger of forgetting it. I (Who Have Nothing) is, if you like, her masterpiece; a gaudy, sentimental and magnificent statement of pure ego.
What else to play, dear reader, on the occasion of Dame Shirley Bassey's 82nd birthday, than that very song?

Happy birthday, Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey DBE (born 8th January 1937). All hail.


  1. Spectacular performance, stunning voice. Happy birthday, Dame Bassey!

    Cheers and Best wishes for many more years of joy, good health, and good times!

    I had no idea who she was, until I saw a VH1 Behind the Music performance by David Bowie, where he told that hilarious bathroom sink story. I had to look her up, and realized that I did enjoy a song of her, Big Spender. And she sang those James Bond theme songs! I loved the James Bond movies!

    1. P.S. Here's the correct link to Big Spender!!! What a performance!!!

    2. Every performance by Dame Shirl is a masterwork of emotion (and volume!). There is no-one else who comes even close... Jx

  2. 82! She is a true Superstar! Did you watch the drama made about her life a few years back? I thought it was really good.


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