When I'm Cleaning Windows

George Formby

About When I'm Cleaning Windows

"When I'm Cleaning Windows" is a comedy song performed by Lancastrian comic, actor and ukulele player George Formby. It first appeared in the 1936 film Keep Your Seats, Please. The song was credited as written by Formby, Harry Gifford and Frederick E. Cliffe. Formby performed the song in A♭ in Keep Your Seats, Please. For the single release, the key was changed to B♭. The song was so successful that George Formby recorded another version of the song entitled "The Window Cleaner (No. 2)". This song uses similar orchestration to the original version and it is about further things which were seen on a window cleaning round. Because the song's lyrics were racy for the time, it was banned by the BBC from being played on the radio. The corporation's director general John Reith stated that "if the public wants to listen to Formby singing his disgusting little ditty, they'll have to be content to hear it in the cinemas, not over the nation's airwaves"; Formby and his wife and manager Beryl Ingham were furious with the block on the song. In May 1941, Ingham informed the BBC that the song was a favourite of the royal family, particularly Queen Mary, while a statement by Formby pointed out that "I sang it before the King and Queen at the Royal Variety Performance". The BBC relented and started to broadcast the song. The record's sales were so successful that Regal Zonophone awarded Formby the first silver disc for sales of over 100,000 copies. 


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Now I go cleanin' windows to earn an honest bob
For a nosy parker it's an interestin' job

Now it's a job that just suits me
A window cleaner you would be
If you can see what I can see
When I'm cleanin' windows

Honeymoonin' couples too
You should see them bill 'n coo
You'd be surprised at things they do
When I'm cleanin' windows

In my profession I'll work hard
But I'll never stop
I'll climb this blinkin' ladder
Till I get right to the top

The blushin' bride, she looks divine
The bridegroom he is doin' fine
I'd rather have his job than mine
When I'm cleanin' windows

The chambermaids' sweet names I call
It's a wonder I don't fall
My mind's not on my work at all
When I'm cleanin' windows

I know a fella, such a swell
He has a thirst, that's plain to tell
I've seen him drink his bath as well
When I'm cleanin' windows

Oh, in my profession I'll work hard
But I'll never stop
I'll climb this blinkin' ladder
Till I get right to the top

Pyjamas lyin' side by side
Ladies nighties I have spied
I've often seen what goes inside
When I'm cleanin' windows

------ banjo ------

Now there's a famous talkie queen
She looks a flapper on the screen
She's more like eightie than eighteen
When I'm cleanin' windows

She pulls her hair all down behind
Then pulls down her... never mind
And after that pulls down the blind
When I'm cleanin' windows

In my profession I'll work hard
But I'll never stop
I'll climb this blinkin' ladder
Till I get right to the top

An old maid walks around the floor
She's so fed up, one day I'm sure
She'll drag me in and lock the door
When I'm cleanin' windows

When I'm cleanin' windows

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George Formby

George Formby, OBE (26 May 1904 – 6 March 1961), born George Hoy Booth, was a British comedy actor, singer-songwriter and comedian. He sang light, comical songs, accompanying himself on the banjo ukulele or banjolele. He was a major star of stage and screen in the 1930s and 1940s. more »

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Written by: Frederick E Cliffe, Hubert J. Clifford, George Formby

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

15 facts about this song

Music Genre
"When I'm Cleaning Windows" by George Formby is classified under the genre of British music hall and comedic songs.
Release Year
The song was originally released in the year 1936 and quickly gained popularity throughout the United Kingdom.
The song was written by Fred Cliff, Harry Gifford and George Formby himself.
Formby played the ukulele for the song, a characteristic instrument for most of his performances. The song is now considered a classic in the ukulele repertoire.
Controversially, the song was initially banned by the BBC due to its alleged lewd lyrics, but the ban was lifted during World War II to boost public morale.
Film Appearance
"When I'm Cleaning Windows" was featured in the 1936 film "Keep Your Seats, Please," which starred George Formby.
Signature Song
This song is widely recognized as Formby's signature song and is still often associated with him even many years after his death.
The lyrics of the song are about a window cleaner who peeps into the windows he's cleaning and describes amusingly scandalous scenes.
Original Copy of Song
An original copy of the song's lyrics from 1936 is part of the British Library's collection.
Platinum Disc
George Formby was awarded a platinum disc in 2002 in recognition of one million sales of the song.
Song's Influence
"When I'm Cleaning Windows" has been covered by various artists over the years and has even been used in advertising campaigns. It has had a lasting influence on British music and popular culture.
Formby's Performance Style
The song showcases Formby's unique performance style, featuring his typical Northern English humor and slang, which made him hugely popular.
Centenary Celebration
In 2004, to mark the centenary of Formby's birth, hundreds of ukulele players gathered together in London to play "When I'm Cleaning Windows."
Queen Elizabeth II's Favorite
According to reports, "When I'm Cleaning Windows" is a favorite song of Queen Elizabeth II.
Place in History
The song captures a slice of social history, offering a quaint glimpse into pre-war British life through its lyrics.

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