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Waxing lyrical about Brazilians

Apparently there is another Football World Cup about to take place. Being a follower of the oval rather than round ball, I shall be getting in a few rental films over the next weeks to avoid the inevitable wall-to-wall coverage, and not see much of the action until England meet Germany in the quarter-finals for…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (May 14) Willow, Titwillow

‘Willow, Titwillow’ from The Mikado W S Gilbert There have been many parodies of the ‘Tit Willow’ song, sung by Ko-Ko in Act 2 of Gilbert & Sullivan’s light opera. In fact Gilbert himself may have consciously (or unconsciously) been parodying the lines of the poet Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718):            …

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Apr 14) The Story of Hiawatha

THE STORY OF HIAWATHA Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1855) Longfellow’s epic poem, written in trochaic tetrameter, has been much parodied. It begins thus: Should you ask me, whence these stories? Whence these legends and traditions, With the odors of the forest With the dew and damp of meadows, With the curling smoke of wigwams, With the…

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The RFH organ restored

The Royal Festival Hall’s mighty Harrison & Harrison organ has not been heard at full throttle since 2005. It was taken out of action for two years when the Hall’s acoustics were refurbished since when only one-third of the instrument has been operational. First installed in 1954 (it took four years to build), it was…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Mar 2014) Cockles & Mussels

COCKLES AND MUSSELS Irish trad. The origins of Cockles and Mussels are obscure and the legend of Molly Malone is disputed, though there is no doubting the song’s still-popular appeal in Dublin where it is almost the city anthem. Indeed, a statue of Molly hawking here wares was unveiled in Grafton Street in 1988. That…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Feb 2014) The Charge of the Light Brigade

This poem was written to memorialize a suicidal charge by light cavalry over open terrain by British forces in the Battle of Balaclava (Ukraine) in the Crimean War (1854-56). 247 men of the 637 in the charge were killed or wounded. The date of the Battle was October 25, 1854 and Tennyson wrote this famous poem in…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Jan 14) SEA FEVER

Sea Fever (from Salt Water Ballads)  John Masefield (1902)  Masefield’s evocative poem appeared in his first volume of poetry published in 1902 in London by Grant Richards. In his Collected Poems, the first line was changed to ‘I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky’. There have been many…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Dec 13) While Shepherds Watched

WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT Nahum Tate Tate (1652-1715) was born in Dublin. Apart from this carol, his most famous creation, Tate is remembered for his libretto for Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and for the many ‘improved’ happy endings he provided for a number of Shakespeare’s tragedies. He also compiled a metrical version…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Nov 13) Betjeman – Business Girls

BUSINESS GIRLS Sir John Betjeman  From the geyser ventilators Autumn winds are blowing down On a thousand business women Having baths in Camden Town. Waste pipes chuckle into runnels, Steam’s escaping here and there, Morning trains through Camden cutting Shake the Crescent and the Square. Early nip of changeful autumn, Dahlias glimpsed through garden doors,…

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