Underneath the Arches

Melody - and text: Bud Flanagan, 1931

Underneath the Arches
I dream my dreams away.
Underneath the arches,
On cobblestones I lay.
Ev'ry night you'll find me,
Tired out and worn.
Happy when the daylight comes creeping,
Heralding the dawn.
Sleeping when it's raining,
And sleeping when it's fine,
I hear the trains rattling by above.
Pavement is my pillow,
No matter where I stray.
Underneath the Arches
I dream my dreams away.

        This is a very well known song in England, and became virtually the signature tune of Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen, a famous music hall singing and comedy partnership from before the 2nd World War. Flanagan & Allen, Naughton & Gold, Nervo & Knox together formed what became known as the Crazy Gang, performing for the first time at the London Palladium in 1933 in "Crazy Month", presented by George Black.

        The Crazy Gang dominated the Palladium up to the war years in successive shows: March Hares, Round about Regent Street, Okay for Sound, London Rhapsody, These foolish things, The little dog laughed, etc. etc. They also made many movies together at that time. Bud and Ches also named the Crazy Gang in a gramophone record called "How do you do Mr. Right". Other songs associated with Flanagan & Allen are "Run, Rabbit, Run" and "The Umbrella Man" ('toodleoomalooma toodleoomalooma toodlaiay..') etc.

        Bud Flanagan's voice is probably most familiar to modern audiences singing the theme tune ("Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler?...") to the classic BBC TV comedy series "Dad's Army", episodes of which are always being repeated on TV.

        Ian Elliott (England) believes that The Arches were railway arches near Charing Cross station in London and that when he worked in London there was a sign over the entrance saying "The Arches". He and colleagues would sometimes buy filled baked potatoes from a stall in the Arches and take them through to the park on the Embankment to eat lunch, sitting on the grass and listening to the band.

        Paul Harley-Green (Sydney, Australia) says that he worked with Flanagan and Allen at the Stoll Theatre, Kingsway, as a stagehand in a show called Hi-de-Hi circa 1943 and got to know and like Bud, "a great bloke", who paid Paul to do his fire watching for him. Paul worked again with Bud at the Victoria Palace circa 1956.

        After the first world war Ches was Florrie Forde's business manager. They teamed up as Flanagan and Allen and first appeared together billed as "singing comedians" in 1926 at the Keighly Hippodrome.

        Flanagan & Allen they did not always appear as tramps. Ches was always smartly dressed and wore a suit and tie topped of with a (then) trendy trilby hat.

        Bud's trademark was a boater (a flat straw hat) this hat was very battered - had no crown and the front rim was broken and folded upwards he generally wore a very shaggy fur coat that came almost to the ground. He sometimes appeared dressed as a jockey.

        Bud was always acting the fool on the side of the stage distracting everyone surrounded by the laughing stage staff and other performers awaiting there turn. If ever there was a natural comedian it was Bud. Ches on the other hand was a very straight laced chap most businesslike and serious.

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