Wednesday, 12 February 2020

The gallery had borne her and brought her up, and she knew no other gods



On the 150th anniversary of her birth, I have found this fitting eulogy to the great Miss Marie Lloyd from The Guardian archive:
In her early teens Marie Lloyd found that she had a gay, realist philosophy to express, and its call took her right across the English-speaking world, eastwards to Australia and westward to the States; but she is dead now, and there can he no doubt that Hackney is still written on her heart.

Life planted its first impress upon her in a London slum, and she spent her years in translating that first impression into terms of art. Hers was a world in which progress, industrialism, economic necessity (the term may be varied but the fact remains) had swept away leisure and starved out beauty, in which men were so poor and their livelihood so hazardous that they had scarcely learnt to think and never learnt to save.

Only one thing had been left them from the shipwreck of the old rural world – a dogmatic belief that life was somehow thoroughly worthwhile.

So, when the pitiful conditions hemming them in permitted them for a moment to pause, they stepped back, looked the surface of things in the face, and laughed. MARIE LLOYD was this laugh.

Being an artist with a touch of genius, she raised echoes in many alien hearts, and she was soon lifted into wealth, even into luxury. But she adhered to the culture from which she took her inspiration. She gave pretty gross offence, at times, to delicate ears. It is said that she never bothered to save money, money being meant to be shared with "pals." What she had she scattered, according to report, among her friends, among lame dogs, among the orchestra that helped her through with her songs.

She had earned three, four, even five hundred pounds a week, and she has died in debt. She was the philosopher of urban London's Saturday night. "The boy that I love sits up in the gallery," she used to sing; and she meant it. The gallery had borne her and brought her up, and she knew no other gods.
By way of a further homage to the greatest female exponent of the grand British art-form known as "Music Hall", here's a repeat of my previous tribute to the lady from 2013:





Since Mother Eve in the Garden long ago
Started the fashion, fashion's been a passion
Eve wore a costume we might describe as brief
Still every season brought its change of leaf.
She'd stare if she could come to town
Oh! what would Mother Eve think of my new Parisian gown?

When I take my morning promenade
Quite a fashion card, on the Promenade
Oh! I don't mind nice boys staring hard
If it satisfies their desire
Do you think my dress is a little bit
Just a little bit... Well not too much of it,
Though it shows my shape just a little bit
That's the little bit the boys admire

Fancy the girls in the prehistoric days
Each wore a bearskin covering her fair skin,
Lately Salome has charmed us to be sure
Wearing some rows of beads and not much more
Fancy my dressing like that, too
The 'Daily Mirror' man would surely want an interview

When I take my morning promenade
Quite a fashion card, on the Promenade
Oh! I don't mind nice boys staring hard
If it satisfies their desire
Do you think my dress is a little bit
Just a little bit... Well not too much of it
Though it shows my shape just a little bit
That's the little bit the boys admire

I've heard my Grandmother wore the crinoline
Then came the bustle, Oh! it was a tussle
Women were tied up and loaded up with dress
Now, fashion plates decree we must wear less.
Each year our costume grows more brief
I wonder when we'll get back to the good old fashioned leaf?

When I take my morning promenade
Quite a fashion card, on the Promenade
Oh! I don't mind nice boys staring hard
If it satisfies their desire
Do you think my dress is a little bit
Just a little bit... Well not too much of it
Though it shows my shape just a little bit
That's the little bit the boys admire!
Marie Lloyd, born Matilda Alice Victoria Wood (12th February 1870 – 7th October 1922)

8 comments:

  1. Still loved and admired after all these years.
    A great talent and personality.

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    Replies
    1. We often do her routines while meandering around Wood Green, too! Jx

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  2. Replies
    1. If ever you get the chance to see it, Miss Jessie Wallace did a star turn portraying the great lady in Miss Marie Lloyd: Queen of the Music Hall... Jx

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    2. I saw that when it was on, Jessie Wallace was very good (and quite physically like her.) I'd just never actually seen the real woman.
      Those are quite raunchy costumes for the time.

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    3. Marie Lloyd's selling-point was her "raunchiness". Jx

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  3. And I love that her name ends with "Victoria Wood."

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