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Bunwell Swingers


We are indebted to Bob Chandler for his memories of the Bunwell Swingers.  Bob recalls them as a trio playing dance music: Leslie James from Long John's Hill on drums, George Humphries from Bunwell Hill on accordion and  Flo Utting from Mulbarton who played the piano. 
The band was something of a family affair as other reports tell of Fred Humphries also playing accordion and Ernie James, later to find fame as the proprietor of Bunwell Chippie, playing drums.
Vera Lynn
Vera Lynn
The band's musical influence was the swing music brought over from America during World War II.  American airmen were frequent visitors to the Bunwell Swingers'  regular Saturday night dance at the Swardeston Social Club.  During the week the band had a number of other venues at which they would play.  Bob recalls:
     'They would be good nights; as we would say, a good night out getting to know people.  The music was just right , not too loud, our kind of music: pity it isn't the same today.  The wallflowers would sit around the dance floor.  The men, if they had the courage to go up to them, would ask them to dance.  If the answer was 'yes',  you could have a partner for the night  Perhaps it would escalate from there: good times in our youth!'

The music for the last dance was always the same: 'Who's taking you home tonight'.  Made popular by Al Bowlly and during the war by Vera Lynn, the lyrics said it all:

        Who's taking you home tonight
        After the dance is through?
        Who's going to hold you tight
        And whisper, 'I love you I do'

        Who's the lucky boy that's going your way
        To kiss you good night at your doorway?
        Who's taking you home tonight?
        I'm pleading, please let it be me.

Olive Meen from Home Farm would sometimes play piano if Flo was not available.  Flo, often referred to as 'Fag Ash Lil', continued her playing career long after the Bunwell Swingers disbanded.  Thin as a stick, without sheet music but with a cigarette always on the go, she could seemingly knock out any tune you cared to name.  For many years she was a regular Thursday night fixture in the bar at the Caistor Hall Country Club and before that The Ferry Boat in King Street Norwich.