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Anthony Webb-Wobblett was born in Great Chesterford in 1927, the fourth child (but firstborn male) in the family, moving to Finchingfield shortly afterwards. His father was a milkman by trade and rumour has it he received a ‘get-out-of-town-by-Friday’ notice from an irate husband concerned at the burgeoning proliferation of Webb-Wobbletts in the area. Notice duly taken, the family upped sticks and fled.

His mother - a forgiving soul - was employed as a cleaner, working long hours to make ends meet throughout Anthony’s childhood. Hence he was nurtured by his three older sisters, who mollycoddled him from cradle to adulthood and beyond. Indeed, the young Anthony didn’t actually wear boys clothing until his fourth year. It was quite a revelation to discover that his anatomy was unlike that of his sisters- and even more confusing to find that his brain worked somewhat differently too. The young Webb-Wobblett retired into his shell to contemplate. It’s probably best we don’t know what he was contemplating.

Anthony Webb-Woblett - Ladies man?

He sought sanctuary in the writings of P.G. Wodehouse, being particularly devoted to the loquacious Lord Emsworth and the Blandings Castle set. One can only surmise that the young W-W might have adopted his cut glass accent in an attempt to identify with those characters he found so appealing - for the son of a milkman and a cleaner from North Essex wouldn’t usually sound quite so terribly terribly Noel Coward-ly. It was a mask that never slipped.

 

One of the advantages of the mask was that Anthony was never afraid of the limelight - he was too well hidden. So singing in the style of his idols, Rudy Vallée, Bing Crosby and later - Frank Sinatra, came easily. He could be whoever he wanted to be, so long as he wasn’t Anthony Webb-Wobblett. 

 

His head was a world of derring-do and adventure with him centrally cast as the dashing and debonair hero- the ladies man he’d always proclaimed himself to be, with swooning maidens falling at his feet. Real life was faithful devotion to his wife Janet and their dog Little Tony; tedious bank work; painful shyness and a tendency to gout. 

 

Being present at the birth of their dog, Janet was heard to exclaim ‘Oh look! It’s Little Tony!’…this being her pet name for a part of Anthony’s anatomy to which the newborn pup bore a striking resemblance. Much to Anthony’s chagrin, the name stuck.

 

These songs are just a small selection of the many Webb-Wobblett performances recorded in Finchingfield between 1947 and 1968.

You Made Me Love You

When he first heard this song as recorded by Bing Crosby and his Merry Macs in 1940, it was the inspiration for the young Anthony to become a crooner. That- together with Bing’s massive female following. This old favourite was written by James V. Monaco and Joseph McCarthy before the First War, but this version comes from around 1953 and features Arnie Bletherworp on what sounds like a nylon strung banjo.

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Every Time We Say Goodbye

Cole Porter’s classic 1944 song talks of the heartache of separation, illustrated by the famous ‘major to minor’ allegory. In this recording from 1958, Anthony draws on the definitive Ella Fitzgerald version, insisting that Silas play double bass, rather than his preferred weapon of choice, the tuba.

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These Foolish Things*

Love struck Janet was excited when her new beau Anthony invited her to the just released Bogart flick Tokyo Joe in February 1950, but he only had eyes for French actress Florence Marly, who sang this Jack Strachey and Holt Marvell penned love song. This is one of the only available recordings to feature Tricky Dick Dervisher on the mute kazoo.

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* Editor’s note: listeners may be struck by anachronistic resonances to Bryan Ferry’s 1973 version. Here at the Cult we cannot comment on the unsubstantiated rumour that the Webb-Woblett arrangement was heavily ‘borrowed’ from, nor whether Mr. Ferry’s unique singing style was based entirely on that of a strange little bank worker from North Essex.

All Of Me

Silas on tuba and Reg Twite on guitar accompany Anthony for this November 1952 recording on the occasion of his birthday. Originally written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons in 1931, this song was really owned by Billie Holiday when she recorded her definitive version in 1941.

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Cry Me A River

Julie London’s sultry 1955 version features jazz virtuoso Barney Kessel on guitar- and here Reg does his best to fill the great man’s shoes. Silas is on double bass duty once again together with an unidentified banjolele player for this 1959 recording - a jewel in the crown of the Webb-Wobblett catalogue featuring those immortal lines:

 

'Told me love was too plebeian, told me you were through with me, an’...'

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They don't write 'em like that anymore.

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