I HATE MUSICALS3: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Shitty Shitty Bang Bang more like.

Okay, I’ll admit that perhaps that is not the most sophisticated piece of criticism I have ever come up with. (It is equally not the most puerile either). Apparently the stage version is the toast of the London Stage. Hopefully they make this toast in the traditional way by putting the entire cast and crew under a grill and heating until crisp.

Most people will be more acquainted with the film, with its flying car, its detestable moppets and a character called Truly Scrumptious. Truly is not a name. No-one has ever been called Truly in the history of birth registrations. I know this because when I was last at Somerset House trying to trace the birth names of all the members of the So Solid Crew (three Tarquin’s and a Siegfried!) I did a quick check on Truly’s. Zero, zip, nada. Even if the name Truly exists the surname Scrumptious is even harder to find provenance for. Smith’s – well they were blacksmiths. Headon, my surname, is a shortening of Head One, or village chief, imperiousness runs in my veins. Even seeming stupid names like Bedingfield have a simple derivation; the ancestors of Daniel and Natasha were so poor they literally had to go to bed in a field. But how would you get the surname Scrumptious? I suggest the only people who may name you that would be cannibals, and therein would lie the succession problem.

No more sickle selection of songs have been placed together than Toot Sweet’s (a pun that forgets its place), followed by Truly Scrumptious. No more hopeless lyrics have been written than those about the titular car :
“It’s uncategorical
A fuel burning oracle
A fantasmagorical machine
It’s more than spectacular
To use the vernacular
It’s wizard, it’s smashing, it’s keen”

I am not sure what vernacular Dick Van Dyke was using at the time (certainly not one ever used in Britain), but when has keen ever been better than spectacular. Of course these days Keen is a synonym for Coldplay-a-like-mope-wank-rockers, but they were not to know that in the sixties. What was clear, was that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a lousy idea from start to finish and as such it is no surprise Dick Van Dyke spent the entire production in an alcohol fuelled haze, and still does not really remember making it. I wish I could remember not seeing it.