`What is a Bongaloo, Daddy?`

`A Bongaloo, Son,`said I,

`is a tall bag of cheese

Plus a Chinaman`s knees

And the leg of a nanny goat`s eye.`

`How strange is a Bongaloo, Daddy?`

`As strange as strange,` I replied.

`When the sun`s in the West

It appears in a vest

Sailing out with the noonday tide.`

`What shape is a Bongaloo Daddy?`

`The shape, my son, I`l explain:

It`s tall round the nose

Which continually grows

In the general direction of Spain.`

`Are you sure there`s a Bongaloo Daddy?`

`Am I sure, my Son,` said I.

`Why, I`ve seen it, not quite

On a dark sunny night

Do you think I`d tell you a lie?`


Spike Milligan was born in Ahmednagar, India, on 16th April 1918, the son of an Irish born Da, Capt Leo Alphonso Milligan, MSM, RA ……And at least several times more under assumed names in the following decade. His Ma was one Florence Mary Winifred Kettleband. The young Spike spent his boyhood out India way following in the footsteps of Kim, which in a way contributed to a certain amount of psychological and emotional dislocation from the Motherland of England when he finally set foot back in Blighty. The feeling of being a displaced person without a real home followed him throughout his life, which finally culminated in his taking Irish citizenship when he had grown long in years.


Spike suffered from what is fashionably called bi polar disorder nowadays, but which in his time was a little understood malady which tended to be brushed under the carpet and hopefully ignored and forgotten about. The fact that he suffered acute shell shock while serving with the British Army during World War Two merely kick started his mental problems into higher orbit and did him no long term favours. Despite this – or perhaps because of it – his highly tuned mental faculties were in a permanent state of high alert as he churned out endless reams of comedic masterpieces during his long career.


He also wrote very successful literary nonsense verse which was suitably warped and skewed in it`s psychedelic imagery; his writing followed in a long line of nonsense poets such as Edward Lear and Lewis Carrol, among whom, he can stand foursquare with his head held high. When in the depth of depression, he wrote serious poetry, but the sheer insanity of his nonsense poetry is one of the things he is best known and loved for. The Godfather of post war British comedy, and the inspiration for Monty Python`s Flying Circus, he could be difficult and unpredictable if the mood took him, but if you have any inkling of the mentally corrosive effects of bi polar on behaviour, you would truly forgive this dear, genius of a man his foibles. On his own admission, he was a well known spelling mistake.


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