We Coulda Been Anything We Wanted To Be

We Coulda Been Anything We Wanted To Be

esterday, I posted in a journalists' forum: "From today's Gorkana (I can't call it Cision, it is all wrong) and to anyone who knows her, absolutely no disrespect or comment on her work (of which I know nothing).

But what a great name for a fashion editor! Like a character from a Martin Amis novel, or something like that, but wittier:

Charlotte Gush has joined Refinery29 as Fashion Editor." 

It prompted a flurry of posts by journalists about their favourite names of colleagues.

(Mine might just be the gloriously monikered, Tokienesque-sounding PR, Frangelica Flook, who I expect lives in a hobbit hole in The Shire, between the Tooks and the Brandybucks. Probably. But I digress.)

One told of a PR named Oswin Knuckles, and I was reminded of Knuckles from Alan Parker's magnificent 1976 gangster movie for kids, Bugsy Malone.

I mainly remember it being in sepia, somehow, and a far cry from today's high-def and CGI, but all the more charming for that.

Scott Baio as Bugsy Malone (© alanparker.com)

(Interesting factoid – Bugsy was played, if memory serves, by Scott Baio who went on to be the Fonz's young cousin Chachi in Happy Days, which I loved, along with Starsky and Hutch and Kojak.) 

I went to see Bugsy at the Northfields Odeon in Ealing when I was nine. It was a rococo palace, all red velvet and mock Spanish crenellations and even a faux-palace with balcony plastered on the side of the wall above the door to the bogs. It was impossibly glamorous. 

Until one emerged blinking into the daylight and stepped over chip wrappings and white dog poo to get the bus home, back to the mundanity of lower middle-class life in the then undesirable patch of West Ealing where we were dragged up. Happy days. 

It even prompted me to go to YouTube and dig out the great song, played by a weary pianist in a speakeasy after a splurge-gun massacre, 'We Coulda Been Anything We Wanted To Be'.

(If you don't know the song, here it is, and I hope I am not in breach of copyright – enjoy, you're welcome: We Coulda Been Anything We Wanted To Be)

I love the way the jarring, discordant opening chords give way to a riotous, joyous and uplifting chorus by a bunch of children singing their hearts out and clearly having the time of their lives...

So. Yeah. We Coulda Been Anything We Wanted To Be.

I, apparently, chose to be a freelance journalist who rose to the bottom of his career and now wonders how to pay the next month's rent. Sigh.

As the intertitle announces at the opening of Ken Loach's 1967 cinema verité classic Poor Cow, "The world was our oyster... and we chose Ruislip."