Saturday, 26 November 2011

"There I was lying prostitute on the floor" - The Irrepresible Hylda Baker





As sexy as semolina, as posh as plum duff, as polished as a lump of coalite; this lovely lady from Lancashire was born in Bolton in 1905. She was the daughter of Harold, a painter and signwriter, who dabbled as a part-time comedian in the music halls of that era. Well, and please forgive the pun, a little of it must have brushed off on her.

Being given a visage, much like my own, that is best described as run of the mill rather than run over at t' mill, the good lady took what talent she had, and she had bucket loads, and adapted it to tickle many a funny bone.
Her famous catchphrase, "She know's you know", still rings in my ears and delivered with that Lancashire lilt that Hylda kept throughout her career. The catchphrase would almost certainly have come from the days spent working the variety circuit. Treading the boards and working the clubs.
The thing I most remember her for was her role in the TV sitcom, "Nearest and Dearest" where she played opposite that other fine stalwart of the theatre, Jimmy Jewel.



Hylda's most easily recognisable trait, apart from her malleable face that she used to great comic effect, was her innate ability, used with perfect timing, to mispronounce her words. This use of malapropisms was very funny and proved to be the thing she will best be remembered for.
Her duo with Arthur Mallard, when the pair performed a the famous Grease song, "You're the one that I want", has been derided and ridiculed but I thought it funny even if it was embarrassing to watch.

The other interesting fact, if only to me, is that my beloved mother-in-law, she whom I called Mad Glad (she was not insane and her name was Gladys - Welsh mum you see) bore an uncanny likeness to said Hylda. Were either lady alive they may dispute this and with vehemence but I still think they shared a likeness
In this day and age, I cannot see anyone wanting to sign up or watch such a character as Hylda Baker but I still think she was worth her weight in pickles as a great entertainer.



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. . . Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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