Friday, December 23, 2016

The Little Drummer Boy

                  Mr Bolero himself. Written when, it is suggested, he was suffering from Alzheimers. 

I wish I had a quid for every time somebody has asked me ‘So who wrote Ravel’s Bolero?’
I wasn’t caught out by a friend asking me slyly what was the favourite carol of the German Psychiatric Institute. I thought for a minute and asked  ‘Is it God rest ye Jerry Mental men?’

Gold star for me.
But the best one was my friend the PhD student, apocryphal or not it is chortlesome. It’s reputed to be from a real exam paper. ‘What is the longest sentence you can get without using punctuation?’ ‘Fifty years to life of course.’
Anyway the reason for such hilarity ( what goes ha ha ha bang? A man laughing his head off.) is that the world is in a terrible state and it doesn’t look like we are going to get anywhere near the real meaning of Christmas. But we should never let the madmen win, we must stay cheerful. Even if it is in the manner of ‘The boy stood on the burning deck…because he had no idea how close the flames were.’
 So it ‘s that time of year again.
My pal is a well-known opera singer. He was on stage backed by a very famous orchestra, singing  one of my favs… .The Little Drummer Boy.  I found the recording on Facebook and listened carefully. Then I challenged  ‘Why is the backing the same  as Ravel’s Bolero?’  ‘Well spotted,’ he replied, ‘they saved money by not getting an entire orchestral arrangement rewritten as the time signature is the same in both pieces.’ 
I bet you are all trying it in your head now.
It did turn The Little Drummer Boy into one of the most sinister songs I’ve ever heard as if right behind the little drummer boy was the lord high executioner.
I was telling that to someone else, another one who asked, so who wrote Ravel’s Bolero.  I told her it was by Maurice Bolero and she believed me. ‘Oh every time I hear that song I can feel the ice under ma arse.’
                                               Torvill and Dean

The song, the Little Drummer Boy is American, made famous by the Trapp family singers and is known as the ‘Carol of the drum’.  The little drummer boy of the song has no special gifts to give the new born infant, just himself and his drum ---.. to play in front of a sleeping baby???  Little romper suit boy might be a bit more apt, I can just imagine Mary getting the wee guy off to sleep, then along comes some wee tyke with a drum giving it laidy.
How would it sound today, with a Glaswegian rap over the Bolero bits…


Come they told me Pa rum pum pum pum  (Ok but give it up with the noise, will you)
A new born King is here, Pa rum pum pum pum  ( And he needs his sleep, so can it, will you)
Our finest gifts we bring Pa rum pum pum pum ( Except you, you’ve brought a drum, where’s the play station and the furbies?)
To lay before our King Pa rum pum pum pum (and the gift receipt so we can take it back on Boxing day)
Rum pum pum pum ( yeah you said  that already)
When we come ( or you could have skyped, and we could have turned the volume down)
Little Baby Pa rum pum pum pum ( baby being the word, no sleep for a month, vomit stained cardi, dirty nappies every two minutes….)
I am a poor boy too, Pa rum pum pum pum  (So  you are on the social? how did you afford the drum then? If you have nicked it, you can bugger off..)
I have no gift to bring  Pa rum pum pum pum , (yeah we noticed. Not even a bottle of Blue Nun or a box of last year’s Ferrero Roche)
That's good to give our King, Pa rum pum pum pum –or anybody else really, vouchers would be better, then we can get him what he needs, not what he wants!
Rum pum pum pum   ( yeah you said already, twice )
Only my drums  ( one drum… one drum surely, or do you have a whole camel full of them out there)
Mary tapped her feet  Pa rum pum pum pum ( Having just had a kid, more like  some kind of spasm. I mean, the dynamics are the same as a man going to the loo and passing a melon so if  you think she’s in toe tapping mood, forget it )
The ox and lamb kept time Pa rum pum pum pum  ( Snort with derision, they would be in Ripley’s if they had )
I played my drum for Him Pa rum pum pum  ( after us telling you not to??)
I played my best for Him Pa rum pum pum pum ( Couldn’t hear you over the noise of him crying his lungs out)
Rum pum pum pum  (enough already)
Me and my drums  ( would you please go away.)

But thank you to the writer’s  HARRY SIMEONE, HENRY ONORATI, KATHERINE K DAVIS to all the times in my youth I rup a bum bummed.

                                             I really do like this, in a strange kind of way.
                                               And so much more poignant now.

 Still it’s better than that slight creepy way David Bowie pops in to say hello to Bing Crosby. ( Must say that great joke again here- What’s the difference between Bing Crosby and Walt Disney? Bing sings and Walt Disney! )  And then they sing in perfect harmony both knowing the words and everything. And when he plays the piano, a whole orchestra starts up.

And have you noticed that daft lyric in there? ‘Perhaps now we’ll see the day when men of goodwill live in peace, live in peace again.’

To my mind men of good will would always live in peace. It’s the nutters out there you have to keep an eye out for.

So to all my fellow bloggers and our followers, I wish you and yours a happy and peaceful Christmas. May the world be at one.  And I do believe that is the lyric of a very good song that really carries a meaningful message. Or did I imagine that.

Have a lovely day,

Caro  23 12 2016 ( two sleeps to go )


  1. Replies
    1. You are very privileged Mr Figbane esq as you sometimes hear the Full Monty version of the blog, with a lot of swearing, a lot.... The MIE people think I am nice, and I like to leave them with that delusion. So don't tell them.

  2. I'm delighted to finally learn that The Little Drummer Boy was written by Maurice Bolero. I'd always wondered.

    Every good wish to you too, Caro!

    1. They tried to keep it from me Michael but truth will come out in the end!! ( Ba rup a pum pum)

    2. Which end? Is that a sprout related enquiry?

  3. Caro, I'm surprised you didn't weave Bo Derek and Dudley Moore into your narrative. After all Maurice Bolero was involved there too.

    1. |A few people have mentioned Bo Derek and Bolero. All of them men. I wonder why that could be?

  4. And, of course, Mette and I wish the two of you a merry Christmas, a splendid Hogmanay, and a healthy and peaceful New Year.

  5. A while back I listened to an NPR show that talked about Bolero being the product of Ravel's Primary Progressive Aspasia (PPA), a neurological affliction manifesting itself in creative types by compulsive repetition. It struck him around 53. I also believe the same NPR show referred to a software program that researchers apply to authors' works to see if they "are losing it." As an example, the show mentioned a very well known female mystery writer from your side of the pond, but I've forgotten her name.

    Rum pa pum pum.


  6. I'll never again be able to hear Little Drummer Boy without thinking of Tim Hallinan's Junior Bender mall romp in Fields Where They Lay. Talk about the Nightmare Before Christmas...