Sunday, 17 November 2013

Fings ain't wot they used t'be

I've tried looking on the Web for the original lyrics to the title song from the Cockney musical comedy Fings ain't wot they used t'be, by Lionel Bart, but all I can find are the different lyrics sung to the same tune by Max Bygraves. As I have on CD the original-cast recording of the show from 1960, here's my transcription from the sound. This is undoubtedly garbled, because I can't make out all the words clearly. However, I was rather pleased to make out the reference to the Wolfenden Report on homosexuality and prostitution, published in 1957. If you can improve my transcription, please let me know.

I used to lead a lovely life of sin
(Dough! I charged a ton!)
Now it's become an undercover game
Who wants to read a maggis in a window
Massaging done
Somehow the business doesn't seem the same.

It's a very different scene
Well, if you know what I mean
There's toffs with toffee noses
And cooks in coffee houses
And fings ain't wot they used to be.

There's short-time low-cast mysteries
Wivart proper histories
Fings ain't wot they used to be.

There used to be class
Doing the town
Buying a bit of vice
And that's been a grass
Couldn't go down
Under the union
(Christ, not likely!).

Once in golden days of yore
Ponces, killed and lazy whore
Fings ain't wot they used to be.

Cops from universities
Dropsy, what a curse it is
Fings ain't wot they used to be.

Big hoods now are little hoods
Gamblers now do Littlewoods
Fings ain't wot they used to be.

There used to be schools
Thousands of pounds
Forcing across the bay
There used to be tools
Flashing around
Oh for the bad old days
Remember...

How we used to fall for 'em
I got news for Wolfenden
Fings ain't wot they used to be
(Did they love they used ter)
Fings ain't wot they used to be.

9 comments:

Patti Evans said...

I thought that there was something to do with "bowling alleys where it used to be our local palais"?

Jonathan said...

That's the Max Bygraves version, Patti.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't find the original version either, but here's another try.

Chris.

I used to lead a lovely life of sin, dough! I charged a ton
Now it's become an undercover game;
Who want to read a notice in a window, "Massaging Done?"
Somehow the business doesn't seem the same

It's a very different scene
Well, you know what I mean...

There's toffs wiv toffee noses, and
Poofs in coffee 'ouses and
Fings ain't wot they used t'be.
There's short time low priced mysteries
Wivout proper histories
Fings ain't wot they used t'be.
There used to be class
Doing the town
Buying a bit o' vice.
And that's when a brass
Couldn't go down
Under the union price,
Not likely!

Once in golden days of yore
Ponces killed a lazy whore
Fings ain't what they used t'be.

Cops from universities
Dropsy wot a curse it is,
Fings ain't wot they used t'be.
Big hoods now are little hoods
Gamblers now do Littlewoods
Fings ain't wot they used t’be.
There used to be schools,
Fahsands of pounds
Passing across the baize.
There used to be tools
Flashing around
Oh for the bad old days
Remember

How we used to pull for 'em
I've got news for Wolfenden
Fings ain't wot they used t'be.

Did their lot they used ter

Fings ain't wot they used t'be.

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Chris, that makes more sense of it!

Philip said...

Many thanks for this. Just watching musicals doc and they made reference to this version.

John Hegarty said...

Well done Chris. Readers may be interested to know that in the original stage production at Stratford East, around 1958, this song was performed by Miriam Karlin (later, shop steward "everybody out" Paddy in The Rag Trade) and Glynn Edwards (later, club owner Dave in "Minder").

KT said...

Yes, that's the recording this is taken from. Glynn edwards was married to yootha joyce.

How we used to FALL for 'em

Doesn't that make more sense?

"There's short time low priced mysteries
Wivout proper histories"

Is that referring to prostitutes?

http://www.londonreconnections.com/2014/fings-aint-wot-used-tbe/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Norman

Interesting background there, all new to me.




Jonathan said...

Thanks, KT. "How we used to fall for 'em" was in my transcription; whether you pick my version of the line or Chris's is a matter of personal preference. I prefer Chris's version of most but perhaps not all lines.

Judith Bateson said...

Thanks for this. I've been hunting the original words for years.