In 1927, a British newspaper called The Westminster Gazette dressed one of its reporters up with a Fedora and a pipe and sent him off on a tour of the UK’s seaside resorts.
They printed his picture in the paper every day, published his daily itinerary and challenged readers to find him. Successful challengers could win up to £200, providing they had a copy of that day’s paper with them and remembered the exact words required. Lobby’s antics were inspired by Agatha Christie’s 1926 disappearance, and went on in turn to spawn the character of Kolly Kibber in Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock.
I was researching this story at the British Library recently, when I stumbled across some 1927 sheet music for a song about Lobby. It was scored for ukulele so, in a fit of cheek, I sent a copy off to The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s George Hinchliffe, who very kindly recorded a home demo for me. George has given me permission to post his recording on-line as a free download, and you can hear it via the link above. You’ll find Lobby’s full story there too.
While we’re on the subject, I’m curious to know whether there’s ever been an equivalent of Lobby in the US. There have been several imitators here in Blighty, but did the idea ever catch on across the pond?