Professional comics in the depression years had a difficult job dodging around the conservative social mores of the period and creating humour in grim times. U.S style slapstick was all the rage on film, but English comedians needed to come up with something different and fresh. Our hero Stainless Stephen (a.k.a. Arthur Clifford Baynes) developed a droll monologue style interspersed with verbal punctuation, a method which much have owed something to his background as an English teacher.
A couple of years ago you could only find sketchy information about Stainless on the internet, but a Google search the other day unearthed both film clips and audio files of his performances. I will have to confess I didn't exactly fall about laughing while watching and listening, some humour does not age well. However being a celebrity did have the fringe benefit of being able to do the odd endorsement for a bit of spare cash. I rather like to think he was discerning in his choice of such work and only took on endeavours that enabled him exhibit his true understated comic genius. I thought the examples below would fit that category.
The full story of the free Stainless Stephen record can be found here, including an audio file of the “song” you can listen to 500 jolly times. Andrew will cook a special tripe dinner for the first person to do so!
Stainless Stephen also made an appearance as a stand up on a “Frost On Saturday” episode on 15th November 1969. This was a special programme for the first official night of colour TV on ITV. So far the research team at Narrywoolan* has not been able to track down a copy of the programme. ngm
Chapter Six. Stainless Stephen The Comic & HOT TRIPE
THE TALES OF STAINLESS STEPHEN’S LANCIA APRILIA
To carry on Arthur's story in 2014 John Grove sent us the following information regarding Arthur's connection with the Sharrow Cycling Club in Shefield.
I understand that he never actually gave up the day job as a teacher at Crookes Endowed School. He was certainly spoken about by some of the older members who lived in Crookes in the 1960s.
For the owner's interest here is a picture of A.C. Baynes sporting medals.
Whilst most of the medals relate to cycling there is also a cricket medal identifiable. Bike racing in the UK had to take place in secret due to police action after some carriage horses bolted in the 1890s. To overcome this time trials where the riders set off over measured course at minute intervals rather than a massed start that would attract attention. Standard distances are 25, 50 and 100 miles plus the distances covered in 12 and 24 hours. The massed start racing enjoyed by the rest of the world only became legal in the late 1940s.
This is the only picture of AC Baynes or Stainless Stephen in the club album. He is acting as pusher off to club member Pat Short at the start of a 24 hour time trial. This picture probably dates to the early 1950s.