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Rude word in hit about Alice was due to Irish comic and that's no joke

An Ulster Log

By Eddie McIlwaine

Published 18/06/2016

On fire: Smokie
On fire: Smokie
Abbey Clancy
Jeffrey Donaldson

Who put the naughty four-letter word into Smokie's hit Living Next Door To Alice back in 1994? "It was an Irish comic and I'd love to know his name," says showband original Terry Uttley, who is bringing Smokie back to Belfast at the Waterfront on October 23.

But after years of searching, Terry is as mystified as ever about the name of the man who added the expletive.

Terry (63) says that back in 1994, as Chubby Brown was having a runaway success with the swear-word version of Alice, more than 2,000 enthusiastic volunteers got in touch to claim the credit for adding that blankety-blank word to the song.

"I'd love the real culprit to turn up at the Waterfront," he says. "Our agent all those years ago told us that this comic in Ireland was demanding to know who the real Alice was in his patter and using the four-letter word to emphasise his question.

"It was only when we realised the joke was catching on that we decided to record the fun version of the song. Contrary to popular notion, it was us who invited Chubby Brown to cut the track of Living Next Door To Alice Mark Two, not the other way round."

Living Next Door To Alice, recorded originally by Smokie in 1977, was a huge hit and then in 1994 and 1995 was a success all over again for the band plus Brown and that naughty word.

"Smokie seem to have been around forever," says Uttley, whose fellow band members are Steve Pinell and Martin Bullard, who have been with him for nearly 30 years, Mike Craft (20 years) and Mick McConnell (18 years).

"The secret of our longevity lies in our simple style of romantic song with nothing political in our make-up. We still get invited to places like Korea, Russia and South Africa.

"We love Belfast, though, for it was at a King's Hall concert that the habit of the crowd shouting out, asking who Alice is, was born after that comedian started the tradition.

"Now all we need is the name of that comedian who started it all for Chubby Brown. Perhaps he'll make himself known to us at the gig."

Abbey has a novel way with words...

Abbey Clancy (30) is a stunning model, a TV presenter on occasion, the wife of soccer star Peter Crutch (a television analyst at the Euro championships) and the mother of their two little girls.

Now versatile Abbey, a Liverpudlian, has turned her hand to writing and just had her debut novel published. It's a romantic comedy, Remember My Name (Harlequin, £5.99), and is the story of a young girl of 22 who says goodbye to Liverpool and heads off to London to seek her fortune. Abbey isn't saying if the story is about her. Readers have to work that out for themselves.

How Errol's star was born in Belfast

Movie legend Errol Flynn, the anniversary of whose birth in 1909 comes up on Monday next, spent a lot of time in Belfast, where his father was a zoology lecturer at Queen's University in the 1940s, and actually took a call from Hollywood at his dad's home here, offering him the role of Captain Blood in the blockbuster movie of the same name.

It was a part that established Errol as the swashbuckling king of the silver screen and as a major force in the film world.

Before he became a star in Hollywood, life hadn't been easy for Errol - his first part was playing a corpse in one B-movie.

"Then somebody noticed I had a marvellous physique and was wildly handsome," he once told a gathering of admirers in Belfast with due modesty, as I recall.

Down the years, he and another movie legend, David Niven, did so much boozing together that the house they shared in LA was known as Cirrhosis-By-The Sea.

In between the hiccups and the drinks, he still found time to come to Belfast, even after his father departed to pastures new.

'The Ghost' who graced Windsor Park

The horrific lightning strike involving a father and his two children at a Lisburn school reminds me of what happened to Scottish international footballer John White as he sheltered from a storm under a tree at Crews Hill golf course, Enfield, in July 1964.

The 27-year-old Tottenham Hotspur star was killed by a lightning strike as the thunder rumbled and the rain poured.

He left behind Sandra, a young widow, and two children, one of whom, Rob, collaborated with journalist Julie Welch to publish a biography of his father in 2011.

John had been a member of the famous Spurs double-winning team that year along with Danny Blanchflower. John played against Danny a few times for Scotland versus Northern Ireland, captained by the great Blanchflower, at Windsor Park.

John White's nickname was The Ghost, because he looked pale and insubstantial on the pitch and because the way he played, always elusive, popping up unexpectedly in the opposing goalmouth.

Were Jeffrey Donaldson and Daniel separated at birth?

My first glance at Jeffrey Donaldson's picture alongside the newspaper announcement that the DUP MP had got a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours gave me a wee bit of a shock.

I thought for a moment that it was his look-alike Daniel O'Donnell who had got the knighthood.

Not that Daniel doesn't deserve some kind of award from Her Majesty.

Jeffrey must be the first turn-coat politician from these parts to become a Knight. He used to be in the Ulster Unionist Party.

He and O'Donnell get more alike as they grow older, but only one of them can sing.

Dean's song is a real tonic for those feeling Under the Weather

I was trying to drive home in a thunderstorm and feeling low when songwriter Dean Friedman came on the radio singing his touching Under The Weather, which cheered me up and gave me comfort as the skies opened, the lightning forked and the car shuddered.

Dean explained on the air that he wrote Under The Weather for a friend who was ill, but it's for anyone who is having a bad time (or driving in a thunderstorm).

Give it a listen: it is on his new album, Words And Music. It's good medicine. He even confesses to his friend that he's in love with his nurse and adds: "All I wanna say is I hope you are gonna be okay." And he promises to look after his cat.

Thanks in no small way to Friedman I got home safe.

There'll be no dissenting voices when this choir takes to stage

Every year at this time, I tell my readers that June 21 (Tuesday) is the Longest Day of the Year. And there is always someone who says I'm wrong and that June 22 (Wednesday) is the Summer Solstice.

So who is right? And does it really matter, except to the likes of a woman I know who will be 84 next Wednesday and has been convinced all her life that June 22 is the correct date.

But a special date of which I am certain is Friday, June 24, Midsummer Day, and to celebrate, conductor Judith Watson and her so-talented Una Voce Choir (with one voice in Italian) are putting on a seasonal concert in the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey that evening.

Guest artists are baritone Brian McCrossan and soprano Gillian Forster.

Belfast Telegraph

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