Tra la, it’s May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear
It’s May, it’s May that gorgeous holiday
When every maiden prays that her lad will be a cad
It’s mad, it’s gay, a libelous display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes, the lusty month of May
These are the two opening stanzas from Camelot first sung by Julie Andrews in a 1960 musical by Alan Lerner, directed by Moss Hart and based on a novel by T H White. Richard Burton and Julie Andrews were cast King Arthur and Queen Guenevere respectively in the production which opened in Toronto before touring Broadway and later West End. The two lead artists were persuaded to star in the 1967 film version by Warner Brothers, but refused, which roles went to Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave. Both the stage and film versions were great entertainments and were successful to some extent, due in no small measure to the lyrics and music. Julie Andrews talked a lot about the stage versions and her interaction with the various artistes at some length in her memoirs which make rather good reading. Sadly, both male lead artistes – Richard Burton and Richard Harris – had since passed away, as had Lerner, Hart and White, all brilliant people, but both Andrews and Redgrave are still alive and somewhat active, at 85 and 84 respectively.
I like the lyrics which often reverberate with the jingles in the head, particularly in the month of May, together with Bee Gees’ First of May. Such is how the mind works, as one gets older, but I don’t find it a problem.
There was a time I had the cassette tape of the film version of Camelot in the car and I can still remember quite a lot of the songs in the musical, including the closing, which begins with Arthur saying to the boy Tom, “Each evening, from December to December, before you drift to sleep upon your cot, think back on all the tales that you remember of Camelot. Ask every person if he’s heard the story, and tell it strong and clear if he has not, that once there was a fleeting wisp of glory called Camelot.”
Both Arthur and Tom then sang, “Camelot! Camelot!” with Arthur following on, “Now say it out with pride and joy! Yes, Camelot, my boy! Where once it never rained till after sundown, by eight a.m. the morning fog had flown… Don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”
Yes, memories are made of these; and little wonder why Camelot has sometimes been associated with the era of the 35th American President John Kennedy. Talking of American Presidents, we have just heard that Obama’s family dog Bo had died at the age of 12. Obama mentioned Bo in his memoir – A Promised Land.
Still on songs and lyrics, I was at a Rotary Club meeting recently when the speaker Bernard Wong, who was billed as aurora artist, said that songs and lyrics could often bring back old memories through association of time and place, voices and images, and so on. And that would be another story.
Back to the last two weeks which was when I had the last blog posted, I went to quite a few meetings over dinners, lunches and breakfasts, involving Masonic and Rotary matters, some more interesting than others, which could be somewhat wearily at times. Su has often asked me to cut down on such commitments which she said tend to deprive me of very much needed sleep and rests, which I actually don’t disagree. Su said I should eat less outside, both in quantities and frequency, and focus on the food she prepared at home, which again, I agree. Nevertheless, I managed to sell off a few of my books over these meetings, mostly accidental, which wasn’t bad; and I got re-connected with a friend or ex-colleague whom I last met 25 years ago. I was pleasantly surprised that this “old” friend had read some of my blogs and had picked up some titbits of my past life. Another friend had also asked how I managed to recall the details I recorded in my autobiography. The fact is, I don’t and I won’t, had I not recorded such details shortly after they had taken place. I believe that it’s such details which together with other details and many of those that would make up life. In this sense, real life stories are often many times more interesting than make-up stories, but then, I am also a great follower of the Irish story tellers who advocate never to allow a good story to interfere with truths.