Today’s song is ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ (sometimes known as ‘Stuck in the Middle’). This song was written by Scottish musicians Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan and was originally performed by their band ‘Stealers Wheel’.
When the band performed the song on the BBC's ‘Top of the Pops’ on May 1973, the song charted at Number 8 in the ‘UK Singles Chart’. It also became an international hit, reaching Number 6 in the ‘US Billboard Hot 100’ and Number 2 in Canada.
The song is used in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 debut film ‘Reservoir Dogs’, during the scene in which the character Mr Blonde (played by Michael Madsen) taunts and tortures bound policeman Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz) while singing and dancing to the song. In an interview with ‘Rolling Stone’, Tarantino recalled:
The song has also been covered by Leif Garrett: Juice Newton: The Jeff Healey Band: Grace Potter: Dawn and Hawkes and many others.
Although I was 31 years old when this song was first released and was starting my Probation Officer career in Huddersfield, hearing the song instantly transported my memory back to my growing up years of between 4-10 years of age.
I was the firstborn in a large family of seven children. Not surprisingly, after my Irish parents migrated to West Yorkshire from Ireland during the early 1940s with their first three children, money was scarce and the tied-cottage property we occupied until I was 9 years old was very small; comprising of one room where the family ate, bathed in a tin tub and lived, plus one small bedroom that held one double bed, in which our parents slept top-to-tail with their three children. We used an outside chemical toilet.
Even when we moved into a three-bedroomed council house on a brand new estate when I was aged 9 years, the arrival of the first of three of my mother’s brothers from Ireland (followed by the arrival of my other two Irish uncles to live with us in succession) meant that me and my next two sisters down still didn’t have our own bed, let alone bedroom. Such family sleeping arrangements were more common in the poorer working-class households of the 1940s and early 50s, whereas today, the mixed sleeping arrangements in the same bed between brothers and sisters would never be legally sanctioned and we would probably have all been placed into Care of the Local Authorities!
At the age of 9 years, I slept in the same bed as my 8-year-old sister Mary and my 7-year-old sister Eileen. My place in the bed was to be ‘stuck in the middle’, which in truth, I preferred. Each night before we went to sleep, we would always scratch each other’s back 100 times. We would alternate by turning to both left and right after each 100 scratchings had been reached to ensure that each of my sisters on the end would get their back scratched 100 times. Being slower in brainpower than myself, it took them months before they realised that their big brother who was ‘stuck in the middle’ of them received 200 scratchings a night to their 100 scratchings.
My father was a miner, and being on the early shifts most mornings, he would retire to bed nightly by 9:00 pm, whereas it would be closer to midnight before my mother had completed the housework and all her chores for the day and prepared my father’s lunch box for the day after and her children’s clean clothes for school. Dad was a strict man who would invariably shout in at us to 'be quiet' if he heard us talking in bed in the adjoining bedroom. Me, Mary and Eileen would have a ‘Do or dare’ game that would invariably end up with one of us getting walloped or shouted at by dad. We would pick a word (usually a rude word like fart or pooh) and we would each say this word. Each speaker would utter the word clearly and louder than the one before them. The game would end only when the volume of the uttered word reached shouting pitch and my father heard it. He would then come into our bedroom angrily and physically reprimand the recognised voice he elected to punish. While one of us was being chastised by my dad, the other two would be laughing into our pillows whilst we pretended to be fast asleep.
One of the worst things my poor sisters had to put up with was my constant bed-wetting. It later transpired that I have always had a weak bladder and whatever I did, I was prone to wet the bed most nights between the ages of three and fifteen years of age when I left school and started work. Even when I had nothing to drink hours before going to bed, I would still wet it during the night. I have never been unhappy in my life and my memories of my family relationships and development hold no significant bad memories for me that would suggest that I had an anxiety problem which necessitated me seeing a psychologist.
Anyway, it cannot have been pleasant for my two sisters to go to sleep cosy and warm on a night and to wake up in the middle of a morning puddle!
I dedicate this song to my loving sisters, Mary and Eileen. Thank you for having put up with your older brother during our childhood years and I do hope that your memories of me don’t go down like a wet blanket with you. I love you both immensely. Big brother Billy x
Love and peace Bill xxx