Friday 14 June 2013

'Get down, get groovy...'

Funny the things that pop into your head (well, mine anyway). There I was, blamelessly brushing my teeth last night, when out of nowhere - or out of the dim recesses of my boyhood telly-viewing - came the jingle 'John Collier, John Collier, the Window to Watch!' I don't think that even in those entertainment-starved days we were often reduced to hanging around outside a tailor's shop watching the window, but I may be wrong. Anyway the jingle proved a mightily persistent earworm, long outlasting John Collier's chain of shops. Formerly the Fifty Shilling Tailor and long since subsumed into the Burton's empire, John Collier in its day fancied itself a pretty groovy kind of tailor, the go-to gentleman's outfitter for that all-important Saturday Night Suit. Indeed, John Collier even went to the lengths of sponsoring a 7" single called Saturday Night Suit by the Johnny Johnson Orchestra. You can hear it here - a bouncy little number. A shame this is the instrumental version - the lyrics, apparently, were full of strange music: 'It's Saturday night, you look sharp in that John Collier suit from only £10.19.6. Get down, get groovy, because you are one suave guy...' (And don't miss the liner notes by Brian Mathew, who is still with us, or with Radio 2 anyway.)
Here are a few more to which my poor head is, alas, no stranger even now:
'This is luxury you can afford - by Cyril Lord' (whose carpets were, you might recall, made of long-lasting Enkalon).
'A Thousand and One cleans a big big carpet for less than half a crown.'
'Opal Fruits - made to make your mouth water,
Fresh with the tang of citrus -
Orange, lemon, strawberry [citrus?], lime...
Opal Fruits - made to make your mouth water.'
'Murray Mints, Murray Mints, the too good to hurry mints.'
'You do the Shake 'n' Vac and put the freshness back.'
'Um-Bongo, Um-Bongo, they drink it in the Congo.'
'Whitbread big head Trophy Bitter -
The pint that thinks it's a quart!'
and, from a sojourn in Scotland,
'McEwan's is the  best best, the best beer, the best beer.
McEwan's is the best beer - so drink some today!'
I could go on, but you'll be relieved to hear I'm not going to...



  1. Shake'n'vac is painfully catchy I agree - but for me Nige, the palm goes to the Mozart of jingles, the late Cliff Adams. He was approached by the great advertising guru John Webster of BMP in the early 70's to knock out something memorable for their strapline 'for mash get smash'. It took Adams less than a minute to crank out just three chords, one repeated and, as they say, job done. Wonderful.

  2. Oh gosh yes - that was almost Art (especially with those Martians)...

  3. The vocal version of the jingle can be experienced (and downloaded!)on ubuweb, right Here. Get hip, dad!

  4. On Friday I was with a friend who bought a John Collier evening jacket from a 'Vintage' emporium in Lewes, E. Sussex. Being Polish she was baffled when I 'sang' the tune - even more when the ancient sales-woman joined me with the ‘boom boom’ finale. It was made for a Dr A.N.E. Clarke. Dated 1.68 & on a hanger with the legend ‘R. Pinkin, Gent’s Tailor, London. E1. She should’ve slipped it on when we were asked by a misplaced foursome the way to Glyndebourne (If I were you I wouldn’t’ve started from here).