swirl of London builders‘ dust envelops a pub‘s oasis of light and laughter. Sincere chords ofa pre-nuclear innocence are being twanged. The post fall-out original } singer. Hank Wangford offers ‘yodelling to help us under this dark
cloud‘. and ‘high in the saddle‘ heroism to see us through this dark
‘ May night.
' Hang‘s ‘a stupid guy‘ according to his body sharer. alter ego and
creator. Dr. Sam Hutt. But Hutt I
i finds it difficult to be disloyal: ‘He is
a lovable wally. but he is also quite
;' sharp.justemotionally stupid.‘The
cowboy. with his sad history of failed
marriages and hitting the bottle. came to Dr. Hutt in a pub in Suffolk
(the village of Wangford to be exact) in 1975. Hutt was feeling particularly
miserable after an ‘unhappy love
cvent‘ involving his girlfriend and his
friend. ‘Hank came and sat down beside me and drank a pint of brown bubbly stuffwith me and told me his life.‘ For some reason. the doctor finds Hank ‘a good laugh‘. and it is certainly true to say that Hank and varying hankerchiefs have been
mopping up mankind‘s miseries very
effectively since the first gig back in that fateful year.
Hutt meanwhile leads a much publicised sensible part-time life as
‘a doctor who does family planning.‘
When he is not touring . he runs three clinics every Thursday in the West End of London. But the singing doctor. as he hates to be called. says also: ‘I‘ve never been a gynaecologist. That‘s just crap from newspapers.‘ The ‘sexual medicine‘ that he practises. is ‘mostly to do with contraception and mostly dealing with women. And ifl
examine women during the course of
my clinic. then I must therefore be a gynaecologist . . . Ofcourse I‘m not. I don‘t do operations. I work in a _ clinic.‘ he says. ‘Double-life‘ seems an inadequate description with which to place parameters on this extraordinary man‘s existence. When Hutt sits
down beside you with a pint of brown
bubbly stuff. prepare to be dazzled
- and confused by a non-linear chronology of lifestyles to date.
. Writing his curriculum vitae could make a Phd subject for someone. Hutt.in his mid 40‘s. has had more than his fair share ofexperiences. and has more opinions than he has time to share before assembling his long face into the endearing vacuity which is Hank.
Take medicine. Hutt deals with
f ‘difficult coils‘ and he deals with
~ fitting them under local anaesthetic. ‘I‘ve certain bees in my bonnet about
that and about contraception. but that‘s a whole other ball game.‘ he
says with a pointedness that suggests
I could be embarking on a whole other interview. What he will say. is that if his patients realise that the gap-toothed doctor who has lost his razor and wears silver tips on his collars. is also Hank Wangford. the reaction is usually ‘delight‘ — ‘It‘s better than a boring man in a white
I‘m your man. because I‘m always thinking ‘What would I feel like if
There is fall-out in Finsbury Park. A
coat‘. And he adds: ‘Ifyou‘re scared.
S l L
Stephanie Billen talks a certain doctor isiting
Glasgow Mayfest on 19 and Edinburgh Spring Fling
I‘m having a piece ofplastic stuck up
my bumand feeling a lotofpain'."
His medical career is however very secondary in his life. and always has been. Compared to the ‘deep
. pleasure‘ he‘s gained from music.
(more than ever now) he says he hs never had any career designs in medicine. never wanted to be a consultant or a ‘world famous
' doctor.‘ The medical lifestyles he has
tried. have almost all been
4 unsatisfactory in some way. After a
sketchy medical training at
Cambridge then London. with a year
off to ‘do a thing called Beyond the Fringe‘. Hutt remembers qualifying and the junior hospital doctor jobs
that ensued: 'I did a job. went away.
looked at the sky for six months.
couldn‘t cope with it all. got another
? job. got registered.‘ he sighs. ‘fucked
off again He reflects that while
not yet qualified. he used to earn
more in a day as an actor in tv
commercials than he was to earn in
six months as a hospital doctor.
| ‘Cadburys Dairy Milk. Smiths crisps.
Philishave -— all very sincere stuff‘. he says. /
Another time. when he was ‘really
desperate‘ because 'I couldn‘t see
where I could work as a doc‘. he
worked in a clinic for drug addicts ; run on the National Health. ‘wildly
successful‘ in his eyes. but closed down under pressure from the police and the council.
He has also been a ‘fashionable
doctor for groovy rockstars and
people on underground newspapers‘. His hair. now spiky short. with a pony tail was down to his shoulders in those days. Being alternative was. he says. better than the alternative. but then ‘it was
_ private and I couldn‘t cope with that.‘
In the early seventies. about the time that he was coming to love country music. he took a doctor‘s job in the prairies ofCanada. ‘Suddenly I was in the mid-west surrounded by cowboys and Indians. on my own in a town of7()(). the only doctor for fifty
miles. And right in the middle of
country music country.‘ He remembers six months out there as lonely but creative. ‘()bviously in a town that size. you can‘t start dating
anybody. because everybody knows
modulates easily into Hank‘s. ‘lfyou fancy Mary who works in the supermarket you can be equally sure she‘s stepping out with Wayne and Wayne ain‘t going to be too pleased . . .‘ Consequence was: ‘a lot of lonesome times sitting up with the guitar and writing.‘ He remembers
inspiration watching the ‘astonishing
sunsets‘. after ‘golden days‘. and on Saturday nights. playing in a country band at the weddings ofsecond and third generation Ukranian and Norwegian immigrants.
‘I like the feeling ofwheels moving under me‘. says Hutt. recalling subsequent roamings of America — San Francisco. North California. Maine. Tennessee and Texas. Texas was one of his favourite parts. 'It is a. lovely surprise that they are not all the big cloddy cowboys you think they will be. They are very direct. very generous.‘ For a few minutes a Texan sits beside me borng soulful. simple eyes into me. offering to vacate his house to accommodate me: ‘You wan‘it. you go‘it.‘ For all that. cowboy land is the star. ‘It is reallythe landofthe imagination . . . the big sky. . . but then the West coast of Ireland can be or the Isle of Skyef
Or Suffolk? Finsbury Park? Since Hank‘s appearance not so long after Hutt‘s return to England. village halls have been finding out that that land is never faraway. and with it the almost visible wide open spaces in the sincerelysimple Hank Wangford‘s head. But if Hank looks vacant at times on stage. it is probably because he is eternally knocked out by the talents ofhis ‘chaps‘. performers from the Cowboy Horseriding. Acting and Performing Studios. The present team has been assembled for a year and a half now and consists of the dazzling Cissie Footwear. the Clark Gable mustachioed crooner. Bobby Valentino. Jett Atkins. lead guitar.-' Big George Hamilton VI. bass guitar. and Big Mac. drums. Together they can sing. twang and swing. even go psychadelic on occasion. Their songs: ‘I ain‘t married but the wife is‘. ‘Never wear mascara ifyou love a married man‘i poke fun at Southern hypocrisy. and Hank‘s sincere patter sneaks in some of the doctor‘s amazement at more
_ chilling absurdity. such as the
‘ministry of Reassurance‘s‘ radiation analogies. ‘Who are these people smoking a third ofa cigarette a week?‘ Hutt questions privately.
Hutt has been talking for an hour; We have touched on radioactive contamination of Europe. difficult coils. Mediterranean cactusses. his parents‘ communism and the odd identity crisis in the past. But he has something to add. ‘I want to share this exciting piece of news with you.‘ It seems that Hank Wangford. who has already been feature on The Archers. has now bestowed his name on a tower block. ‘Underblock‘. in the comic Judge Dread. It is nice to know that in the year 2000 AD. Megacity One. the radioactive shell that was New York. will be graced with such a bastion of heroic
The List lb — 2‘) May 5