I’ve just come back from a weekend in Vienna. It’s a very beautiful city, full of grand buildings and rich in history.
During our time there, we saw an argument develop between some passengers on a train. I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about – I only really became aware of it once voices had been raised to a point that was impossible to ignore. It seemed to be about seating arrangements. Someone taking too many seats, or refusing to move a bag, or bumping into someone or something. It was in German, I couldn’t understand it.
While we were there, we wanted to try Vienna’s famous sachertorte – a dense chocolate cake with apricot jam and dark chocolate icing. There was a long and complicated legal dispute about who can claim to make the “original” Sachertorte. On one of Alan Whicker’s wonderful programmes, he explains the background to the “Sachertorte war”:
A twenty-five year legal battle over a chocolate cake. This slightly unseemly squabble reminded me of the battle between Bobby G and David Van Day over the rights to perform under the name of Bucks Fizz:
The partnership between G and Van Day proved to be short-lived as the two failed to gel. In 1997, Van Day quit the group after a show in the Falkland Islands. Unable to come to an agreement with G, Van Day teamed up with Mike Nolan and two new female recruits (Lianna Lea and Sally Jacks) to form a new version of Bucks Fizz. Unhappy with the situation, G put an injunction on the name, resulting in the second group to go under the name; “Bucks Fizz starring Mike Nolan and featuring David Van Day”. Under Van Day’s guidance, this version released a newly recorded “Making Your Mind Up” single as well as an album of re-recorded Bucks Fizz songs. Neither found chart success and the recordings were universally derided by the group’s fans.
By 2001, Nolan too had found it difficult to work with Van Day and left the group. With another male vocalist, Van Day continued to tour under the moniker “Bucks Fizz”, despite never having been a member of the hit-making line-up. By this time, G and co-star (and now wife), Heidi Manton had acquired the legal rights to the name “Bucks Fizz”, and brought a case in the High Court against Van Day. Bucks Fizz as a registered UK trade mark was filed in favour of Manton on 25 June 1997 and then registered in 2001 in classes 09 and 41. In 2001, a judge refused to grant a court injunction against Van Day as he had been operating as Bucks Fizz for five years at the time.
The feud and legal battle between Bobby G and David Van Day as to who had the right to perform under the name “Bucks Fizz” was the subject of a BBC television documentary, Trouble at the Top. The case was settled out of court in August 2002 when Van Day agreed to call his version of the group “David Van Day’s Bucks Fizz Show”. This group however was short-lived and soon Van Day returned to performing as Dollar. This chapter of the group’s history has been referred to as one of the “messiest break-ups in music history”.
Although I wasn’t able to understand what the people on the train were arguing about, there was one thing I did understand, and it was the thing that seemed to kill the argument. At one point, a woman stood up and shouted something, and then someone else repeated the cadence of what she’d said, but replaced the words with high-pitched nonsense. “Mi mimi mi mimimi mi!” At that point, everyone involved seemed to realise how undignified the whole row had become, and sat in awkward embarrassed silence for the rest of the journey.
I was relieved that the argument had fizzled out, as up until then, it had seemed to be spreading through the carriage as more people got involved. I didn’t want to get involved in this argument. I don’t want to get involved in an argument on a train that I don’t understand and am completely unable to contribute usefully to in any way whatsoever. That’s what Twitter is for.