Not everything in life is simple. Red Smed, however, is. And to prove it this blog has been set up to take you deep into his deranged socialist utopia where Lenin was quite a nice bloke, , Bridgwater has been renamed Parretgrad , every home has to display a portrait of Jake Thackray and Leeds United are at the top of the premier league.

Friday 18 August 2017

Put On Your Dancing Shoes and Overthrow Capitalism

There can be no argument that the most important single contribution to revolutionary cinema in the 20th century was not 'Battleship Potemkin', 'Strike' , 'Oktober' or any of the Eisenstein classics, but 'Summer Holiday' featuring Cliff Richard. In this internationalist epic, (then not) 'Sir Cliff' and his freewheeling comrades cross Europes post war boundaries, only recently liberated from the Fascist jackboot,  in search of workers solidarity, class comradeship and girls -some dressed as young boys admitedly. And their mode of transport is the good old  red London double decker bus. What's not to like.

After 'Zulu', '20 Interesting Things About Fish' and 'Sharon's Overnight Visit to Goole', it;s undoubtedly the film I've watched more than any other, seeking, on each viewing, to gain a deeper insight into what exactly they're trying to say. Is it 'tear off the shackles of your oppression', 'you have nothing to lose but your chains', 'if the kids are united, they will never be divided' or is it 'if you go off on a European holiday with the lads you;ll definitely pull a bird like Una Stubbs'? I think I know what it is.

Telling it like it (probably) is

So for me the best song in the film is 'Dancing Shoes'. In a scene, which could otherwise be seen as terrifying, Cliff and a gang of 4 teenagers surround a Yugoslav peasant girl in a haystack, force her to dance and throw her around between them. With the volume turned off the images could be repulsive. The sheer horror on the girls face as she totally fails to understand what this gang of 'hands on' strangers even want of her. But whatever it is they're not letting her get away. in the end it transpires that what they want is 'bread'...but due to a hilarious misunderstanding they translate the next word in their 'Serbo-Croat Dictionary' which happens to be 'bride'. Suddenly everything's alright and the girl cheers up, rushes them back to her village where a bunch of Slavic tribesmen from a different century to the rather progressive 1960's of Yugoslav Communism, are waiting to throw a big party for their soon to be new relatives...until of course the young Balkanating Brits suddenly realise the horror of  their situation and try to escape. At which point the Slavic types attempt to stab them with pitchforks, batter them with chairs and shoot them.

What better allegory for the eventual dissolution and catastrophe that eventually was to befall Yugoslavia.

Tearing down the walls that surround us

But, for me, the failure of the writers was in the lyrical department. A wonderful swinging rock tune was spoilt by the totally meaningless juvenile lyrics inserting nursery rhymes rather than think fo actual lyrics. 'Do you remember little bo peep' 'let me tell you bout jack and jill, theyre the ones that went up the hill' etc.
So obfuscation no more....I politicised's what they would have wanted..or...deserved.
'Humpty Dumpty' no more, 'Bo Peep' no more, instead those working class martyrs Salvadore Allende, Joe Hill and Terry French.

Now, this version is from 2002 and done by the Red Smed band at the Monkton Heathfield Popodrome studios - although there's an even older version from 1986 done in a brickworks in Dunwear, Bridgwater, partially acoustically and totally fuelled by 2 bottles of Irish whiskey.....but I seem to have lost that one....