"Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?" is a love song which sees the writer romancing local girl Molly Windley; they marry, she presents him with triplets, and they live happily ever after, (notwithstanding the inadvisability of his heavily pregnant wife's chain-smoking). The actual story is somewhat different, and far sadder. Allan Smethurst never married, and appears never even to have had a girlfriend in the proper sense of the word. In 1966, he had a minor heart attack; he also suffered stage fright, and developed arthritis which hampered his guitar playing. By 1970 he was unemployed and broke, and would spend the last 20 years of his life living in a Salvation Army Hostel in Grimsby
, a town whose main claim to fame is that Elton John and Bernie Taupin once wrote a tongue-in-cheek song about its delights. He died in poverty in December 2000. In his BBC obituary, Molly Bayfield, who was some six years his junior and the inspiration for his award winning song, said she was saddened by his death. Just before he died he was visited by Rolf Harris, who had also recorded the song; The Singing Postman spawned a number of tribute and copycat acts. In 1994, his hit was parodied for an Ovaltine advertisement; later, the song itself was re-released by Anglian Music as "Hev You Gotta Loight Bor?", the title track of one of a seven CD set said to contain his complete recordings. There is also a veiled reference to the song in David Bowie's contemporary (and quite awful novelty song) "The Laughing Gnome
While Allan Smethurst was afraid he would be remembered for just the one song, like the man himself it has become a metaphor for a fast disappearing way of life in the face of an increasingly Cosmopolitan Britain.
Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above