Friday, August 8, 2014


Vivian Drew may have felt isolated in her home of Pinbury Down, Devon, but she had access to the London Illustrated News--if not the most recent editions--with occasional expeditions to the city of Plymouth so that she was not entirely remote from the trends of the day. A common form of entertainment for the Edwardians was singing popular songs, and sheet music was readily available.

"Daisy Bell" (known better as "A Bicycle Built fur Two") is one of those songs, and also one I like to sing, particularly to a cat of my acquaintance named Daisy. I at first considered mentioning it in The Stowaway, but it's so commonly known I don't think it provides much period flavor. So I delved into Edwardian popular music and decided that "I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside," written in 1907 by John A. Glover-Kind, would be a perfect choice for Vivian to spontaneously sing on board the Jolly Roger, to the surprise and delight of the Captain. He's not one to frequent music halls or to shop for sheet music when he's in port, and this song provides a window into a world he is only tangentially a part of.

Mark Sheridan's 1909 performance

As it turns out, "Seaside" is probably at least as well known in the UK as "Daisy" is in the States. (UK readers, can you back me up on this?) as demonstrated by the number of covers I've found. For example, it makes appearances in two songs by Queen ("Brighton Rock" and "Seven Seas of Rhye") and two episodes of "Dr. Who." And it hops the pond to appear in the 7:18 episode of "Navy: NCIS." YouTube has many versions of the song, including this strangely adorable cover from "Thomas the Quarry Engine."

The popularity of the song means I don't need to take up space in an already-crowded manuscript to includ the lyrics, but I shall do so here:

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside
I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play:
So just let me be beside the seaside
I'll be beside myself with glee
And there's lots of girls beside,
I should like to be beside
Beside the seaside!
Beside the sea!

And here is Basil Rathbone, in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (please ignore the fact that the movie is set fifteen years before the song was written). This version is the most appropriate under the circumstances as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the most competent member of J.M. Barrie's struggling Allahakbarries cricket team.

Now I'm going to sing this song for the rest of day. Perhaps you will too.

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