Tried by the Centre Court
At the Drop of a Hat
At the Drop of Another Hat
The Bestiary of Flanders and Swann
And Then We Wrote...
Thanks to Leon Berger for the transcription of this song, and Ilke Vermeer for the introduction.
The gag of this song relies on Michael giving a 'Franglais' pronunciation (underlined) and Donald correcting him in immaculate pronunciation (in italics).
It's all right, it's only water. I was going to wash my mouth out, you see. Ugh! Ooh! I should never have done it. It's horrible!
DS: What's wrong?
MF: It's like that stuff they had in Adelaide. They had their own billabong there. I think someone must have camped by it, too.
Oh my goodness. Well, they may be a bit short of water but they've got everything else out there. Oh it's marvellous - isn't it out there? You know, we went to Gelong, with the school there; what a wonderful school. I can think of no finer place to send a young man to prepare him for the great new vital Britain of the 1870s.
And then, er, oh we had lots of fun. Swann got thrown out of the Melbourne Cup because his trousers were too short; then Brisbane, er, Brisbane was fun, that was the place where he couldn't stop them giving him early morning tea, which he hates, you know, anyway. Didn't matter what he did, what he said, every morning at the crack of dawn this great beautiful Betjeman girl would come clumping into the room, slap a great mug of scalding tea down his chest, and say, "'Ere y'are, cobber. An' if you don't like sugar, don't stir it." They're a lovely lot.
I live in London, in Kensington - naturally - Swann lives in Battersea. He calls it South Chelsea, but it's Battersea. I have friends who've been there, it's very nice, has its own power station and dogs' home and everything. Very convenient if you want power or dogs, I think. Perhaps a little nicer over the other side of the River in the royal borough of Kensington, though even there, of course, we have our problems, like keeping up with the Joneses , but the - well done . . .
I understand we have a party here this evening from France, which is exciting. France, Europe. I don't know quite where you are situés, but wherever you may be we should like to welcome you and wish you bon s. . . er. . .
DS: bon soir.
MF: soir. Comment ç. . . er, and so on. Perhaps I should introduce again, for their benefit, and say that I, c'est moi, and him, c'est lui, and Louis and I would like to sing you a song about Paris, France, Europe. What could be nicer than a really lovely nostalgic formidable song about Paris, France, Europe.
I must say my own nostalgia for Paris is somewhat tempered by the fact that I have never actually been there, but that doesn't seem to stop anybody else, really, and I, I have an excellent map of Paris. With its aid I have written these lyrics, and as for the music of course I turn to my partner, well-known international man-about-town, play-boy, roué and mahout who knows Paris like the back of his foot. He was there - when were you there last?
DS: Ah, two years, my dear fellow.
MF: Two years he was there, il y a two years. He went there for a fortnight, actually, or quinze jours, as the French say, quinze being the French for fourteen. He went there to forget a rather unhappy episode of his life, something that happened at the Fabian summer school of music with somebody who shall be nameless, called Mabel Figworthy. (Uncomfortable noises by DS.) What an intelligent lot you are. And starved of culture for so long. This song (applause) oh no, please, that's too much, that is an embarras de richesses. This song is about Paris . . .
MF: Oh I'm sorry, I get this wrong.
DS: You don't know any French!
MF: That's right, yes, I'd forgotten. This song is about Paris, it's called "Paree".
Both: Paris they say you have not changed
They say you never will -
You are my Paris still!
Tonight I seem to see them all again:
MF. That small hotel!
DS. The taxi-cabs!
MF. The rain!
Both: The boulevards were busy
The champagne sweet and fizzy
And we felt safe
MF. Inside that little cafe (DS.Winces - What?)
Along the Champs Elizzy (DS. No, no - the Champs Elysées!)
DS. The Louvre famed in story
MF. The Mona Liza's glory (DS. The Mona Lisa)
DS. The Folies Bergère
MF. The jolly Gaire Lazaire (DS. Winces)
Both. The Faubourg Saint ... (DS. Saint Honoré)
DS You're still the same
MF. Old Notre Dame (DS Indignant. Nôtre Dame)
Your farm - fame - they'll never spoil
Both. A fishing far line
MF. Floats in the Sine (DS. Seine)
Close by the Place d'Etwoil (DS. Place d'Etoile)
DS. The chestnut trees in flower
MF. Give shelter in a showée
And flashing bright
Both. At night
MF. it's little licht (D. light)
Both. On high - the Eiffel Towée! (M. looks pleased)
DS. Paris in spring is easy to sing (MF. Ah oui)
Among my souvenirs I still recall
MF. The Comedie Frankés
DS. Les Deux Margots
MF. All this - and General de Gaulle
Both. A box of Marrons Glacées
MF. With half a demi-tassie
Both. Just me and you.
MF. To stroll along the Bou (DS. Bou?)
- Levard de Montparnasse
DS. The smart montmartre apache
MF. The films, the films of Guitry (DS. Who's Guitry?)
You remember Guitry - Sacha!
Both. The lamp that shines
On little painted signs
MF. Messieurs ..
MF. Mes-dames ..
MF. Defence ..
DS. DÉFENCE DE CRACHER!
MF. What a stupid language!
Thank you very much. It's just eau, eau ordinaire, unfluorided, no doubt.
Originally from the album 'Tried by the Centre Court'.