By Mark Nobes

Interestingly, the original recording of "House Of Fun" was entitled "Chemist Facade" and didn't even have a chorus. Before the single release, Stiff Records demanded that Madness come up with a chorus to ensure good sales, and so band member Mike Barson created the "Welcome To The House Of Fun" chorus on his piano.

Penned by band members Lee Thompson and Mike Barson, the song spent nine weeks in the UK singles chart and featured on the band's first greatest hits album Complete Madness, which spent a whopping 99 weeks in the album charts and peaked at #1. The single was the ska/2 tone band's only #1 single, although they had a total of eight top five hits during the 80s. A re-release of "House Of Fun" in 1992 reached #40 in the UK.

Although uncredited, Suggs stated in an interview with the Daily Mirror in 2009 that he actually came up with the chorus.


The first half of the video features the band messing around in a chemist shop, which is the setting of the song's lyrics. Suggs plays the part of a 16-year-old boy in the chemist shop in an amusing fashion. The second half features the band at the Pleasure Beach in Great Yarmouth, and for part of the video we see the band enjoying themselves on the rollercoaster. You can hear elements of fairground organ sounds in the song, and it transports me right back to my younger, carefree days on holiday at the seaside, spending half the day in the amusement arcade!


The lyrics were written by Lee Thompson and refer to a young lad who has just turned 16 and attempts to buy condoms at a chemist shop, stating that he is "16 today and up for fun". The boy fails to get his message across to the chemist when, due to his embarrassment, he uses euphemisms such as "box of balloons with the featherlite touch" instead of simply asking for a packet of condoms. The confused chemist politely informs the boy that he is not in a joke shop and directs him to the "house of fun". 
"Miss Clay on all corners, has just walked in" refers to the local gossip, which makes the situation even more awkward for the red-faced teenager.
Of course, condoms back in the 1980s were very much "behind the counter" items, whereas, these days, they are on full display at the local supermarket - how times have changed!
It's true to say that many people didn't actually know what the song was about back then (I certainly didn't), and we didn't have the internet to put us wise!