Monday, October 17, 2011

Proverbial Wit

Roy is one of those rare people who never seems to need food and is incredibly thin. Apart from all the obvious advantages, one plus point seems to be his ability to go walking on a boiling hot day (with his dog, naturally) and not feel too overwhelmed by the heat. It always brings this Noel Coward song to mind, and hence the name of this blog.

Noel Coward made the changes to an Indian proverb from the days of English colonialism and came up with the Gilbert and Sullivan type lyrics and music for this song in about 1932.  According to Wikipedia, the song was composed, without benefit of pen, paper, or piano, while Mr. Coward was driving through Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon. The song was sung by Mr. Coward himself on CBS TV.  I do have an old record of it somewhere but perhaps one might find it somewhere on the internet as a downloadable let me know if you find it....what fun!

The lyrics for Mad Dogs and Englishmen by Noel Coward
In tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire,
     to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of those rules that the biggest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry and one must avoid
     its ultry-violet ray --
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they're obviously, absolutely nuts --
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The Japanese don't care to, the Chinese wouldn't dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one,
But Englishmen detest a siesta,
In the Philippines there are lovely screens,
     to protect you from the glare,
In the Malay states there are hats like plates,
     which the Britishers won't wear,
At twelve noon the natives swoon, and
     no further work is done -
But Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
That though the British are effete,
     they're quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides, every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will
     impale his solar topee on a tree.
It seems such a shame that when the English claim the earth
That they give rise to such hilarity and mirth -
Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun.
They put their scotch or rye down, and lie down.
In the jungle town where the sun beats down,
     to the rage of man or beast,
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok, at twelve o'clock, they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen, go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this stupid habit.
In Hong Kong, they strike a gong, and fire off a noonday gun.
To reprimand each inmate, who's in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
     there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie down and snooze, for there's nothing else to do.
In Bengal, to move at all, is seldom if ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

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