When someone speaks about traditional British folk music, I can’t help but immediately think of The Singing Postman. Allan Francis Smethurst was, indeed, a real postman from Grimsby and he became an overnight sensation after sending a demo tape to a British DJ who decided to record an EP of his songs.
The most famous of his songs became “Hev Yew Got a Loight, Boy?” – a novelty tune that is sung in Norfolk accent and a slight speech impediment that revolves around the cigarette as an icebreaker. Today, a song like this would not get any attention because any reference to smoking is frowned upon. If possible, this makes the tune all the more charming.
Smethurst for a while was the British Tiny Tim, but he soon realized that show-biz was not for a country lad like him. He suffered from stage fright and became an alcoholic. By 1970 he was penniless and, unable to go back to his job as a postman (perhaps pride played a part in his debacle), he stayed broke most of his life, dying penniless in a Salvation Army hostel in 2000.
“Molly Windley, she smook like a chimley, but she’s my little nicoteen gal.”