The wartime entertainer Bud Flanagan can rest easy. “Who do you think you are kidding, Remainers, if you think old England’s done.”
Weintrop was born with a sense of adventure and was keen to see the world. In 1910, aged 14, he decided to leave home and walked all the way to Southampton where he claimed to be an electrician aged 17 to get a job aboard ship. He sailed with the SS Majestic to New York, and jumped ship when it arrived in the USA. Reuben got various jobs selling newspapers, delivering telegrams for Western Union, and even harvested wheat in Fargo, North Dakota. He joined a vaudeville show that toured across the USA, whilst in October 1914, he sailed with a show to perform in New Zealand and Australia. He travelled to perform on stage in South Africa where he met his brother Alec (Alexander), who was living there at the time.
Once back in San Francisco, Reuben decided to return to the United Kingdom to enlist to fight for Britain in the First World War. He returned to Britain in 1915 and enlisted as “Robert” Weintrop; he joined the Royal Field Artillery, and was sent with his unit to fight in France. In the Army, he worked as a driver and entertained the troops with his singing and impersonations. Here he met the unpopular Sergeant-Major Flanagan from whom he later adopted his stage name. In 1919 he formed a comedy double act, Flanagan and Roy.
Flanagan’s last recording was Jimmy Perry and Derek Taverner’s theme for the British sitcom Dad’s Army, “Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?”, recorded by Pye shortly before his death in 1968, and for which he was paid 100 guineas (£105). The song was a pastiche of the sort of songs Flanagan had sung during the war.
Brexit is an act of self-defeating folly. Our long-run growth rate, declares the Office for Budget Responsibility, has now sunk to 1.7%. We report today that the introduction of customs checks on EU goods in April and July is to be deferred because of fears of food shortages. Trade flows between the UK and the EU are in crisis. The country does have the capacity and values to be a force for good, but this Global Britain is a hoax. The home guard that Dad’s Army so wonderfully lampooned were at least honourable men. The same can not be said for the army in No 10.
Bud gets to lampoon those good men. The failed bond salesman can fuck off.