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You All Know the Songs
by Oonah V Joslin

The pub was hushed for the final question, twenty tables with people holding their breath - exchanging conspiratorial glances.
Poomph-poomph-eeeik…Poomph. The Quiz Master tapped on the mic to make sure it hadn’t gone to sleep between questions. “What was the name,” he intoned, “of the man….” he paused, “who wrote the lyri…,” he eeked it all out with a practiced sense of audience anticipation, “to over twenty popular hit songs including…”

You could hear a pin drop at this stage in the proceedings. Five pounds a table, twenty tables – it wasn’t the money, it was the principle.

“Teddy Bears’ Picnic, We’re Going to Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line, Harbour Lights and South of the Border.”
“I know this one,” insisted Murray McGrath. “Just give us a minute…” He supped at his ‘Bud’ and then went into ‘information retrieval mode,’ which basically meant his eyes glazed over and everybody could see he’d already forgotten what the question was.
Luckily the Quiz Master repeated each question, as was customary, even more ponderously than before.

“It’s obviously an American song writer,” whispered Vincent O’Kane. Irving Berlin – one of that lot. Siobhan, you’re musical…”
“It’s hardly on a par with ‘Strawberry Fields’ or ‘Eleanor Rigby’, now is it?” she said, “and if you want my opinion, anybody that had anything to do with Teddy Bears’ Picnic deserves to be forgotten!”
“Aye, and this is going way back before any of us would remember,” added Jimmy Kennedy. “He’s giving the older folk an unfair advantage.”
“On the other hand how many of them would have known Beyonce?” said Brian Bagley.
“Shushhh – you eegit! Tables have ears!”
“It’s on the tip of me tongue…” said Murray, emerging from semi-trance and swilling ‘It’ down with another slurp from the bottle.

“I’ll give you three minutes more,” said the QM, “before we collect the sheets.”
“Another clue!” shouted table 14 in unison followed by a harmonious, surround-sound ripple of approval.
“Okay… This person also wrote… the lyrics to… Kitty of Coleraine… and… Hokey Cokey.”
Siobhan rolled her eyes. “Impressive! God, have you ever heard the like?”
“Hold the bus a minute – why would some American write a song about Coleraine?”
Brian specialised in such insights though he never knew the answers.
“True. He must have been local...”
“I’ve got it!” said Murray. “It was that sailsman.”
They looked at him daft.
“No, it was a ly-ric-ist!, Murray – not a salesman,” said Siobhan. “Would somebody get him a brain?”
“I’m telling you, I have it! He was from Portstewart. There’s that thing at the seafront – about the Red Sails song.”
“Red Sails in the Sunset! Dear heavens. Murray’s right so he is,” said Vincent. “What was his name, now – think man!”
“I’m doing me best but it was a really ordinary name. It was my Granny’s favourite song and I bet even she didn’t know it, it was that ordinary. Like - it could have been… any one of us!”

“Come on!” said the Quiz Master, “you all know the songs…”
“Just write down any old name, Jimmy. Your own!”

“Right – Time’s up!”