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George Melly
Dec 7 1986

Dear George,

As you can see, this letter has been delivered by hand. Impressive, eh? But not half as impressive as the fact that I actually brought my typewriter to your doorstep to write the letter – yes, amazing but true, here I sit outside your house writing letters to you. Already three people have stopped to talk to me, and they have all said the same thing: “Liked the book on Scottie Wilson, Mr Melly, and glad to see you’ve already started on the next one.”

And now to business. I have a lovely and intelligent girl-friend who lives in Bath. But all is not sunshine in her life. As if to make up for her loveliness and intelligence the gods have decreed that she should work as a TV director for the BBC, poor thing. At the moment she is doing a film on battered wives/women in Bath and Bristol (a very dark subject) and asked me suddenly the other day if I knew any good Bessie Smith blues that would be apt as introductory music; something about cruel men.

My knowledge of Bessie Smith’s songs is much worse than it should be (never listen to the words – you know what musicians are like) so I thought I’d turn to you. Funnily enough, I came across Down-hearted Blues this morning, which nearly had the right sort of words. Sung by Mildred Bailey, with a quartet of Bunny Berigan, Johnny Hodges, Teddy Wilson and Grachan Moncur ; stunning line-up but quite the wrong voice for blues.

What we need ideally is something like:-

All my life my man’s mistreated me

So I’ll tell my story to the BBC…

Can you think of something strong but sorrowful with immediate impact?

A policeman has just stopped and said: “Here, don’t you know it’s unlawful to write in public places?”

“You’ve got it wrong,” I told him. ”It’s unlawful to write on public places.”

“You’re all such smarty-pants, you blues singers,” he said. “We’ve got our eye on you, Melly.”

Sorry about that, George. Must go now.



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