Bad Karma for Cardew Robinson


I’m currently doing some research into my maternal grandfather, Frank Cardoe.

Frank was a popular comedian in the Birmingham area from the 1920s until his retirement in the mid 60s, performing pretty much nightly.

Although he was a big enough name in his heyday to meet the likes of Neville Chamberlain, he is now a forgotten figure. This is partly because there is only one known recording of his act- a crackly old 78 record that was privately pressed and kept in a cupboard at my mother’s house in Mickleton.

I have recently made a digital copy of this record which can be found here:

One thing that is interesting about Frank’s act is that the sheet music to his track ‘Someone Stuffed a Crumpet up me Trumpet’  was stolen from his dressing room (by an unknown person) and later sold on to the rather less obscure Cardew Robinson, who changed the lyrics, and the title to Trumpet Involuntary.

Frank was never credited as the originator of the track, which Cardew recorded as part of his 1967 EMI release Cream of Cardew.

Being a kind-hearted soul, my grandfather never bore him any ill will and, indeed, was a big fan.

I plan to write more about Frank Cardoe’s life and work soon. In the meantime, his lyrics to ‘Crumpet’ are below:

Now I hardly like to tell you all of what occurred to me
And I don’t think that I’ll ever live it down
I was specially engaged to play me trumpet in a band
At a record-breaking fee of half a crown

The conductor tapped his baton
The audience grew still
They were all agog to hear me
But alas they never will

Someone stuffed a crumpet up me trumpet
I tried to play until me face went blue
The band was playing Show Boat
As I tried to get me top note
I blew into a panic- wouldn’t you?

It’s six weeks since the crumpet was up me trumpet
And last night I thought I’d play the thing or bust
And with a blast right down me trumpet
Out flew the blinking crumpet
And you couldn’t see our sitting room for dust

(It goes on for hours, this does)

Now Scotland Yard detectives were called in on my behalf
And very soon the guilty man was found
The trial came up last Friday and the tiny little man
Named Shorthouse stood in dock, his hat in hand
The judge put on his black cap then he stirred his cup of tea
Then sternly he said “Shorthouse, now listen please to me:

“You’re guilty of stuffing a crumpet up his trumpet
And it’s a very foolish trick you must agree.
You ought to be sent to prison
‘cause you know the trumpet’s his’n
They’re not made for stuffing things up, don’t you see?

“I’ll sentence you to learn to play a trumpet
So that you’ll never do another trick so dumb
And it may not be a crumpet
That you’ll get stuffed up your trumpet
If it’s what I hope it is, you’ve had it chum!”

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  1. I’ve found out that Frank performed with his then partner Ivan at the West Bromwich Dartmouth Bowling Club’s annual dinner in 1935. A contemporary report describes the evening’s entertainment thus:

    “No matter how disappointed some were feeling at the choice of serious accomplishments being shown by the entertainers, there followed a comical little ditty by Frank Cardoe and his partner Ivan that cheered the evening.”

    And that is all that the internet has to say on the subject.. researching this is going to require more than just sticking things in google, I guess

  2. Thanks, Joe. It was actually “record-breaking” which makes sense: I’ve changed it now. “Soubrette” I had to look up- turns out it means “a minor female role in a comedy, typically that of a pert maidservant.”

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