I arrived back from Germany the other day. I swapped the aeroplane for a train at Manchester for the last leg of my journey home to Liverpool. I was delighted to see that, although badly faded, the train was dedicated to Gracie Fields.
Dame Gracie Fields, DBE (born Grace Stansfield; 9 January 1898 – 27 September 1979) was an English actress, singer and comedian and star of both cinema and music hall. She spent the later part of her life on the isle of Capri, Italy. Fields was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to entertainment” in 1938, and in 1979, seven months before her death, she was invested a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II.
The final few lines of Gracie’s famous song “Sally” were written by her husband’s mistress, Annie Lipman, which Fields sang at every performance from 1931 onwards – claiming in later life that she wanted to “Drown blasted Sally with Walter with the aspidistra on top!”, a reference to two other of her well-known songs, “Walter, Walter”, and “It’s the Biggest Aspidistra in the World.”