Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Great London Songs No.14: I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles

We've asked our London Walkers and London Walks guides to nominate their favourite London songs… and the playlist is proving to be wide-ranging and eclectic indeed. 

From punk to jazz, with a little music hall thrown in along the way, we'll be collating them all here on The Daily Constitutional over the next few weeks in the run-up to the launch of our new Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk every Wednesday from 1st May 2013.

As usual, we want to hear from you. What are your favourite London songs? Anything goes, from a tune mentioning a London location, to a piece of music composed here, if it has a strong London connection or theme, we'll add it to the list. Email us at the usual address, message us on Twitter @londonwalks or leave a comment below…

Here’s Kim…

For London songs I always think of "I'm forever blowing bubbles" which is a bit odd as it doesn't mention London and I'm not even a West Ham fan!  However, it is so intrinsically linked with the Club which has produced such icons of English football such as Bobby Moore & Geoff Hurst & Michael Carrick (now I've given away who I do support) that it has to be included as a London song. 

It even got a line in the Olympics Opening Ceremony and the Stadium is going to the Hammers so come and see it and give us a chorus on the Olympics Walk which goes on Thursdays at 2.15pm from West Ham Tube.

Adam adds… A good choice, this. A London folk song if ever there was one, although, as Kim points out, it has no specific London references, its association with West Ham United F.C cements it firmly in the East End. It goes like this…

I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune's always hiding,
I've looked everywhere,
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.

I’m particularly fond of the line “Fortune’s always hiding” – which would seem to typify the West Ham experience. This great club – formed out of an iron works workers’ side in the 19th Century – has won the F.A Cup on three occasions, but the fortune of the League Championship has proved elusive indeed thus far.

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles is a relic of the old custom of community singing at football matches – formal, organized singalongs before kick off. The fingerprints of this era can still be seen right across the land. At Birmingham City, for example, the fans sing Harry Lauder’s Keep Right On To The End Of The Road; at Bristol Rovers the old Leadbelly tune Goodnight Irene is the favourite.

West Ham’s love of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles dates back to the 1920s. The song was first used in the world of sport in the country of its origin – the United States. It was the big hit of the The Passing Show of 1918 on Broadway. And just a year later, during the World Series scandal of 1919, the so-called Black Sox affair, it was pressed into service with its lyric amended for satirical purposes to “I’m forever blowing ballgames”.

In 1980 the punk band Cockney Rejects recorded a version. It reached No.35 in the UK charts in the year that West Ham last won the F.A Cup. And here they are, one minute thirty-nine seconds of mayhem…

Kim, who has worked in the House of Commons and the European Parliament, is another 24-carat Blue Badge Guide: she won the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year award in 2001.

The Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk launches on Wednesday 1st May 2013. The Rock'n'Roll London Walk (without pubs!) goes every Friday at 2.00pm. Both walks meet at Tottenham Court Road Station (Exit 3). You can keep up with the Rock'n'Roll London Walk on FacebookTwitter and at

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at


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