"Poor Mussolini/ Has got just a teeny/ Bit suspicious he's made a mistake./ Saying the Mediterranean/ Was an Italian lake". Phil Park's jolly satire "O! What a Surprise for the Duce" is entirely characteristic of the songs thrown up by the War: defiant, sarcastic, slightly camp; the spirit that links Coward's "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans" to Arthur Askey's "She's the girl who makes the thing that drills the hole that holds the spring''. This brisk and well illustrated study, though puzzlingly bereft of complete lyrics, links the social history of rationing, the Blitz and Yank invaders with soundtracks from wireless, danceband and cinema.
YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: SONGS AT THE HEART OF THE WAR by Stephen Seidenberg, Maurice Sellar and Lou Jones, Boxtree, £15.99