b. Allan Smethurst, 19 November 1927, Sheringham, Norfolk, England, d. 22 December 2000, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England. One of the most implausible stars of the swinging 60s, the Singing Postman nevertheless crafted one of the better examples of the novelty pop song in ‘Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?’. A legend on his own delivery route, Smethurst was an authentic Norfolk postie, who extolled life’s simple pleasures and misfortunes with judicious stressing of the East Anglia country vernacular. Tracks on his recordings were all notated in the relevant ‘patois’, ‘Oi Can’t Git A Noice Loaf Of Bread’, ‘They’re Orl Playing’ Dommies In The Bar’ and ‘A Miss From Diss’ offering huge insights into the life cycle of the Fenland citizen. Many were written from the point of view of a bygone wartime era, as Smethurst moved between Norfolk and Grimsby during World War II. He became a favourite on local BBC radio in the early 60s. Such mildly comic, rural anecdotage may have forever remained a secret to the listeners of Norfolk had it not been for the merest brush with the pop charts. ‘Hev Yew Gotta Light, Boy?’, included on the First Delivery EP, picked up radio play in the mid-60s, and the Singing Postman was soon engaged in promotional duties on popular UK television shows such as Nationwide, Crackerjack and the Des O’Connor Show. Astonishingly, the track won the Ivor Novello award for Best Novelty Song in 1966 and the EP broke into the UK Top 10. Sadly, what otherwise might have been a long, if somewhat secular career, was hampered by celebrity. Smethurst continued to release records but by the start of the 70s he was penniless, his name had been dragged through the courts via an alleged assault, and he had developed a serious drinking problem. Forced to give up his career in 1970 after his fingers became arthritic, Smethurst made an abortive comeback in 1977 with the ‘Fertilising Lisa’ single. That may very well have been that, until, in 1994, a television advertisement for Ovaltine Light used ‘Hev Yew Gotta Light, Boy?’ as its soundtrack. Sadly for Smethurst the attention arrived a little late in the day. His royalty cheque was eventually posted to a Salvation Army hostel in Grimsby, where reporters discovered him. Smethurst remained at the hostel until his death in December 2000.
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