A Rolf Harris painting appeared on the BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’ programme. It was hardly an antique, Rolf Harris is alive and well, as is Bonnie Tyler, the subject of the painting, but the portrait excited interest. How much had been paid for the painting? About £50.
The expert pointed out the features of the work and explained that prior to Harris painting a portrait of the Queen, there would not have been great interest in the work, but that on the years since that painting, his work had appreciated greatly and that the value of the picture of Ms Tyler was probably around £50,000.
It was nice to see someone who was a favourite in childhood days finding a place in the sun. It was the second time I have heard his work vindicated. ‘Two Little Boys’, sneered at by the pop music cognoscenti, was proven by someone who knew.
Two little boys had two little toys
Each had a wooden horse
Gaily they played each summer’s day
Warriors both of course
I remember Rolf Harris singing ‘Two Little Boys’ in 1969 and being told that the song was rubbish and that the real world wasn’t like that. Of course, I believed what I was told; when you are a child, you believe what people tell you.
I didn’t know then that the song was not a 1960s composition, but dated back to 1902, nor did I know that it was inspired by a Victorian novel set during the Napoleonic War – but those things are incidental. Was Harris right?
I would have said , “No” – until a moment when I met someone who knew.
I met a British forces chaplain, who had seen frontline duty. “What will men die for, Ian? They won’t die for queen and country. They won’t die for democracy and freedom – whatever those things mean. What they will die for is their mates”. The men he would talk to, facing danger and death, would give everything for the blokes beside them.
There can be no stronger example of mates standing together than the trenches of World War I – some of the sections of the British army were actually called ‘Pals’ battalions. Boys from the same streets and the same villages joined up together, and fell together. Nothing in the world would have been more natural to them than remembering their days together when they were small boys. The song was right.
It is good when the nice guy is right.