At the November meeting, we enjoyed a very interesting talk on the life of George Formby, given by Matthew Sproston from Gloucester. George Formby was born George Hoy Booth in Wigan in 1904 and his father was a performer who changed the family name to Formby thinking it to be a more appealing stage name. At birth George was blind but a violent coughing fit when he was a few months old gave him his sight. He began his career as a stable boy and jockey and only began performing on the death of his father. George married another performer, Beryl Ingham and we heard many amusing stories and anecdotes about George’s married life “managed” by Beryl. She was to become an important critic of his act and succeeded in making him appear more formally dressed. It was Beryl who suggested he should buy and learn to play the ukulele.
Throughout the evening Matthew delighted the audience with renditions of many well known songs including those banned by the BBC (until Queen Mary insisted that she wanted to hear the originals when he went to the Palace. The ban was subsequently lifted!). The evening ended with a performance of “Leaning on a lamp-post” expertly delivered on the banjolele and the audience joined in most enthusiastically! Very warm applause showed our appreciation for a most informative and enjoyable evening