Most people that were alive in the UK at the time (and are still alive now, of course) will probably remember Jilted John, and those that don’t remember the name will almost certainly remember the ‘Gordon is a moron’ chant that took his self-titled single into the Top 5 in 1978 and is still in the popular consciousness today, most usually with reference to our beloved Prime Minister.
Brainchild of drama student Graham Fellows, the pseudo-punk ‘Jilted John’ single was quickly followed by the ‘True Love Stories’ album, which tells the story of the hapless teenager John and his journey through adolescence into semi-manhood. Essentially ‘The Odyssey’ set in Northern England (well, sort of), his perilous journey takes in death, sheds, paper rounds, pet mice and on-off relationships with Sharon, Karen, Belinda, Julie, Wendy and Shirley that all end in either betrayal, rejection, desertion or kidnapping.
The LP packs quite a punch for a ‘novelty’ record: not only is it very funny, it’s also rather poignant, and a brilliant evocation of what it’s like to be a teenager and a bit of a nob, as all teenagers are, perfectly encapsulating the adolescent experience from the shrill saturnalia of a teenage party to the fickle yearning of first, second and third loves as experienced by a hormonal and gormless youth in an anorak.
My copy of the LP also came with a Jilted John Snakes & Ladders board game, neatly summing up John’s two steps forward, three steps back progress through life, and I still play the game as I play the LP, but that may just be a personal development issue.
The first selection from the album is ‘True Love’, a moving tale of emerging romance over the pick ‘n’ mix with a great tune and some suitably awkward moments. ‘Shirley’ is from later in the story, when John has inadvertently hitched a lift with a nutter and is being kept against his will in her sinister love lair.
If Cameron Macintosh is reading this (and I’m assuming he is), can I just point out that ‘Jilted John: The Musical’ is long overdue. Put your hand in your massive pocket, cheapskate, and dig deep, it’s just what the West End needs.