Most of you will have never heard of Tommie Connor. Connor was a British songwriter. His hits had such unforgettable titles like “The Biggest Aspidistra in the World” (sung by Gracie Fields) and “Never do a Tango with an Eskimo” (sung by Alma Cogan). [If you think I’ve made this up it is easily verified on the web. And besides I know you would never accuse me of misleading you!]
Reputedly he was born and raised in the West End of London to parents of Irish descent. But most historians have overlooked an interesting fact about Connor. His mother was a famous big game hunter at a time when such a past-time didn’t attract the public opprobrium it does today (except if you are a member of the Bob Katter’s Australia Party) but was not usually considered a fitting sport for genteel women.
She had travelled all over Africa, Asia and the Americas in pursuit of trophy animals. But her favourite trophy was secured in China. On one gentle spring evening walking through the bamboo, she chanced upon a Giant Panda. She always claimed that it was the fact that she was dressed in green (for camouflage no doubt) and had by this time developed emphysema which caused her to wheeze a lot (but kind of sounded like the breeze rustling through bamboo) that the animal was attracted to her. Who knows the reason, but the beast approached her aggressively and she (who had always judged herself to be delectable) became concerned that she might be a Panda’s dinner. Then, as she always maintained, she was forced to dispatch the dangerous beast. With unerring aim she raised her rifle (she was never without one) and shot the Panda in the head with a rather large bore projectile. Now those of you who don’t know much about hunting will not appreciate that this valiant attempt at self-defense largely removed the cranium from the animal.
This of course caused a great dilemma for the big game hunter. She had bagged an animal and desired the trophy to prove it. As you sensitive folk who follow big game hunting will know, the desred trophy is the mounted head. But unfortunately Mrs. Connor had rather degraded the value of that trophy. As her sycophantic attendants milled around not knowing what to do, the brave and glorious lady, said, “Just cut off one of its paws. That will be enough to prove to the world I have bagged another worthy quarry”. And that is what they did.
On returning home, instead of mounting the trophy as she usually would have, (a Panda claw not being such an impressive artifact) she had it attached to a short pole so that she could use it as a back-scratcher.
With her increasing age and the debilitation of emphysema, Mrs Connor gave up big game hunting at this juncture. She retired to a more domestic scene. She loved to cook for her extended family and they were more than praiseworthy about her culinary concoctions.
Her most famous dish, according to surviving family members was her rissoles. Early on she used to cook on a small coal burning stove. Even when the household upgraded to an electric stove she still kept the old stove at the back of the kitchen because she preferred to cook her rissoles on it. Consequently the family referred to it as the “rissole stove.”
It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature……(oops, sorry – wrong fable). Let’s try again. It was the night before Christmas and Mrs Connor was standing on a chair making final adjustment to a line of Christmas decorations fixed to the ceiling. Unfortunately she dropped one spherical bauble she was trying to tie and it ran along the floor and rolled under the rissole stove. She got down from the chair and picked up her panda claws backscratcher which was conveniently near by. She used its length to drag the decoration out from under the stove, then climbed up and retied.
Before going to bed the three Connor children gathered in the kitchen and admired the splendid decorations. They then went to bed in eager anticipation of Christmas day.
They awoke to the joy of Christmas. And the family had splendid time feasting and opening presents. A few friends and relatives dropped by to help spread the good cheer. By midafternoon Mrs Connor was sated with food and drink and exhausted in a contented sort of way from the pleasant pandemonium of the day. She had a warm glow from the joys of a family Christmas which was somewhat augmented by a tipple or two of sherry and plum brandy. She collapsed into her favourite armchair. There was only one thing now that stood between her and pure bliss – her back needed scratching.
Young Tommie was standing nearby. “Thomas,” she called (she hated the use of the diminutive “Tommie” and always called him by his proper name), “can you find my backscratcher for me?”
Tommie dutifully scoured the house but could see no sign of the backscratcher. He went back to his mother to report on his failure. She frowned at being informed that her precious panda claws seemed to be lost. She called the other children into the room.
“My backscratcher appears to have gone missing. Have either of you seen it.”
After a minute or so contemplation, the youngest’s eyes lit up. “I know where it is, he said excitedly.”
“Yes?” the old lady said encouraging further information.
He replied with these immortal lines, “I saw Mummy’s missing panda claws underneath the rissole stove last night.”
What a catchy title for a song thought Tommie. Later on he wrote such a song, with the words slightly altered and it became his bestseller and is played still at Christmas time. You probably know it yourself.
And another thing! Bearing in mind one of the news highlights this week I put this question to you. Was Kim Jong – iller than we thought?