Mate's Spoffle Group featuring Fred Spoons (Peter Sellers):
Any Old Iron
(1957)

(back)

(The singer has been left a watch and chain in his uncle's will. This was a symbol of affluence; the vast majority of slum-dwelling Londoners couldn't afford such a luxury. The watch would fit into a small pocket on the front of a waistcoat, with the chain attached to a buttonhole on the opposite side. The wearer would often pull the watch out to pretend to check the time, in reality displaying his superiority. As he walks around showing it off, dressed in his fanciest clothes, including a green tie and a new hat, he is being teased for his snobbery by a gang of cheeky neighbourhood kids, who follow him around, echoing the street-cries of scrap metal dealers who go round the neighbourhood (usually with a horse and cart) calling out for 'any old iron' they might buy at a low price. The kids are referring to the long watch-chain hanging across the front of his chest.)

(Chorus) Oh, any old iron, any old iron? Any, any, any old iron?
You look neat, talk about a treat!
You look dapper from your napper1 to your feet.
Dressed in style, brand new tile,2 and your father's old green tie on --
I wouldn't give you twopence for your old watch chain!
Old iron, old iron. (Phew! Cor!)

Just a week or two ago, me poor Uncle Bill
Went and kicked the bucket,3 and he left me in his will.
The other day, I popped around to see poor Auntie Jane
She said, "Your Uncle Bill has left a-you a watch and chain."
I put it on, right across me vest
Thought I looked a dandy as it dangled on me chest.
Just to flash it off, I started walkin' round about,
A lot of kiddies followed me and all began to shout,

"(Chorus) Any old iron, mate, any old iron? Any, any, any old iron?
You look neat! 'Ere, talk about a treat!
You looks dapper from yer napper to yer feet!
You're dressed in style, with a brand new tile
And yer father's old green tie on!
I wouldn't give yer tuppence for yer old watch chain!
Old iron, old iron!"

(William) Er, and now, erm, Fred Spoons would like to give you a solo. Come on, Fred.
(Fred) I, ah, well, I would like to continue the, er, rhyth, mm, rhythmic melody what you just 'eard, on my, um, melody spoons. Thank you.

(William) Go on, let me 'ear that EPNS,4 Fred. (crash)
Oh, temperamen'al, inne?

Oh, any old iron, any old iron, any, any, any old iron?
You look neat, talk about a treat! Yim bom biddle, on your feet!
You look nice, dressed in ice, father's old green tie on!
I wouldn't give you twopence for your old watch chain!
Old iron, old iron.

Oh, you looks neat, talk about yer treat!
You looks dapper from yer napper for (to) yer feet!
You got an old green tie, fair hits you in the eye!
Got a monocle inspected (inserted) in yer old french pie5
Put you in yer shoes, blue suede shoes, don't you roll me daddy-o, rock away yer blues!
You got a lolly6 for the rain, and a brand new cane.
I wouldn't give yer tuppence for yer old watch chain!
Old iron, old iron!

Any old iron, any old iron? Any, any, any old iron?
Cor, you look neat, talk about a treat!
You looks dapper from your napper to your feet.
Dressed in style, brand new tile
With yer father's old green tie on --
I wouldn't give you twopence for your old watch chain!
Old iron, old iron. (Cor!)

(trapdoor opens)
(Grytpype-Thynne) I say, you down there.
(William) 'Ello?
(Grytpype-Thynne) Do you want some old iron?
(William) Yeh.
(Clanging noises)
(William) Oooh, mate! I've been sponned!7 Oooh!

(1) Napper: head. Sellers here makes a mistake by reversing 'napper' and 'dapper.'
(2) Tile: hat.
(3) Kicked the bucket: died.
(4) EPNS: electro-plated nickel silver, a designation found on common spoons.
(5) French pie: eye.
(6) Lolly: brolly, umbrella.
(7) Sponned: a Goon Show term.

William Mate was one of the characters voiced by Sellers in the Goon Show radio series (1951-1960). Ludicrous names such as Hercules Grytpype-Thynne, Colonel Bloodnok and Nugent Dirt were invented for a cast of imaginary characters; Fred Spoons is of this ilk. 'Spoffle' is a take-off of the word 'skiffle,' an early type of amateur garage music band which featured instruments such as the washboard, acoustic guitar and string bass.


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