Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Juke box Dury

There’ ain’t 'alf been some clever bastards… and Will Birch is one ‘em.

Just completed Birch’s excellent Ian Dury: the Definitive Biography. It’s a great read and fully conveys the mix of monstrous and loveable behaviour that made Dury a very complex lyrical genius.

What’s also striking is how much of a mockney he was. His mum’s family were quite posh intellectuals and he was bought up in the garden suburb of Upminster as a well-spoken boy and then went to boarding school in High Wycombe.

Dury said he put on the cockney geezer act partly to survive in a horrendous institution for kids with polio.

It would also have given the insecure and disabled Dury an easy identity. When I was at university this middle-class Essex Man was readily identified by northerners as a cockney when they heard my Brentwood accent; and it was easy to play up to the caricature in the street credibility seeking days of the late 1970s.

Dury would also have been attracted to the language he heard from East End exiles around Essex because he was a poet and saw the richness of the “just cos I ain't never 'ad, no, nothing worth having never ever” and “got right up between her rum and her Ribena” cockney dialogue and rhyming slang.

As he once said when accused of being a mockney rebel: “We’re not posh, we’re arts and crafts!”

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