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Archive for September, 2008

Pedro the Fisherman

Today, as some 60 years ago in Arima, I heard Richard Tauber sing Pedro the Fisherman, and thereby hangs a tale of memory. This song has been one of many road themes for me, particularly when driving long distances, and it comes from a film I saw as a teenager, a long time ago. Without much provocation I easily lapse into whistling this song, snatched from a World War II musical drama. Catching myself whistling Pedro the other day, I sought Google to reaffirm context.

Now here is the tangle. I have been thinking, all these years, that my beloved Pedro was a song from “Storm over Lisbon,” starring David Farrar. It turns out that “Storm over Lisbon” was something altogether different, and had starred, among others, Vera Ralston, Eric Von Stroheim, Otto Kruger and Eduardo Ciannelli. Tauber was nowhere to be found in this lot.

But he did appear, memorably, in “The Lisbon Story,” where Farrar did apparently do his turn.

Now the question is: how could I have forgotten the name of the film, but remember Pedro, a tune heard only once? And how did it remain in my consciousness, in some sort of holding pattern, ready to unburden itself when I hit the open road? And how did Pedro’s whistling translate itself into whistling of my own?

Maybe at least one answer can be found in these words: “Pedro the fisherman was always whistling/Such a merry call/Girls who were passing by would hear him whistling/By the harbour wall.”

And there was a generous bonus: in locating the full lyrics and other bits and pieces about the song, and the two films, I stumbled unto YouTube, and there I found Tauber. There was a surprising concert of sweet oldies including my French folksong, Pedro the Fisherman.

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Swizzle stick

I now understand, a little better, the importance of swizzle sticks in the lives of Tinis away from home: today Janice tried her hand at callaloo.

Some years ago, when we still lived in Trinidad and to-and-frowed to the U.S visiting kids, daughter Holly once pleaded with us: please, make sure you bring a swizzle stick when you’re coming up.

Trinidad had become so up-to-date, we couldn’t easily find one and had to mount a search, settling for one with wooden tines rather the more efficient variety with the several rolls of coiled wire at the business end.

And today the swizzle stick conondrum came up after the successful callaloo experiment, albeit with spinach, at the end of which, and with a touch of mock seriousness, Janice intoned: “Calls for just a little more amalgamation!” We needed a swizzle stick! And I could see what she meant.

Finally there it was, ochro seeds and all, and tasting very much like the real thing, only needing a more successful coming together, as it were, we having rejected the idea of a unifying blender.

Surely there are sufficient Trinis, here in the U.S and in Canada, to justify floating a little swizzle stick production company!

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