Actually, he was the founding member,
waking his flatmate Jeff to accompany him
at a Playcentre Christmas show.
They gigged a couple more times as a duo
before Jeff invited in some mates
from his old band The Cockroaches.
Artistic differences began immediately.
The Brown Wiggle’s schtick—the klutz,
always falling over and banging into stuff—
was thought discouraging for young children.
His colour was also deemed
Still, he didn’t mind
being relegated to backing the band
off-stage in the wings. He played
everything everyone else didn’t.
In the studio, his guitar takes were
quietly preferred to Murray’s.
In videos, he was Captain Feathersword,
Dorothy the Dinosaur or Henry the Octopus
as required. His own creations—Irwin Stingray,
Chopper the Croc, and Extra Leg Rolf—
never left the white board. But perhaps
his greatest contribution was as lyricist,
for which he was never fairly credited.
Some CD booklets contain his original
‘Yummy Mummy’ chorus to the fruit salad
classic. He left the group in 2012, claiming
he’d fired the other four members,
and carried on as The Brown Wiggle.
The courts didn’t have a bar of it. But you can
still hear him busking in far-flung malls,
belting out his curve-ball compositions
to small, appreciative crowds who know
what it’s like to throw a few shapes
without shaking their sillies out.
James Brown’s fifth book of poems, Warm Auditorium, was published by VUP in 2012.