In My Father’s Words
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
It is often said, though not by me, that an optimist sees a glass as half full, while a pessimist thinks it is half empty. I see the same glass as in need of replenishment. It’s all a matter of interpretation.
We all interpret things in different ways, sometimes widely so. Take, for example, Dolly Parton. Some people think, and indeed say, that Dolly is a dumb blonde. Dolly herself, in a radio interview, discussed this as follows. “Some folks say I’m a dumb blonde. Well, I know I ain’t dumb, and I know as sure as hell I ain’t blonde.” Dolly should know.
I don’t think that the diminutive country singer is in the least bit dumb, and if she says she ain’t blonde, I have no way of disagreeing with her. Dolly has two outstanding assets; she has a bright, bubbly personality, allied to a pleasant, if not outstanding singing voice. Secondly, she is an astute business woman who has, by her own efforts, risen from a grindingly poor upbringing in the Deep South of the United States to become a multi millionaire. What did you think I was going to say were her two outstanding assets?
It is perhaps less well known that Dolly has written many of the songs she has performed and recorded. I give one example; ‘I will always love you.’ Words and music were written by Dolly and recorded by her in 1973. Her version was a gentle country ballad, sung sweetly, if in a rather treacly way. In the 1990’s Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston made a film called ‘The bodyguard.’ Over the closing credits Whitney, a much more powerful singer than Dolly, sang ‘I will always love you’ as a pop anthem. And very moving it was too.
Fast forward now to 2005 and the same song was breathtakingly recorded by the truly beautiful Katherine Jenkins, a lady with the voice of an angel. The lovely Miss Jenkins recorded the song in Italian. So Dolly’s little country ballad had become a platform for a classic performance. As it happens, I much prefer the Katherine Jenkins version. The point is that Katherine, and Whitney, or their arrangers, interpreted Dolly’s little song in quite different ways.
If we consider another female icon, let’s discuss Diana, the late Princess of Wales. I was in Croatia on holiday at the time of Diana’s funeral and for once, I was ashamed of being British, looking at the images on the television.
I never met Diana, although I have met Prince Charles. We were not mates, you understand, and we did not meet in the Dog and Firkin. It was at an oil industry function at the Albert Hall in 1983. I liked and still like Charlie. I did not like Diana, who was never the saint her supporters claimed. I believe that to claim rights and privileges, a person must be subject to duties and responsibilities. Diana, in my view, did not keep this agreement. I understand that my view of the life of Diana is not everyone’s view, and the others can interpret matters in their own way. Tony Blair called her the ‘people’s Princess’. I regarded her as a selfish, self centred woman.
I mention only Diana’s life, not her death. That is interpreted in many ways.
In August 1997, Diana and Dodie Fayed, and their bodyguard, not Kevin Costner, climbed into a Mercedes Benz with Henry Paul, a driver who had not expected to be on driving duties that night. Paul, who was later shown to have consumed alcohol to about three times over the legal limit, was also using prescription drugs. The car was driven at speeds up to 100 mph, much of it in a 30 mph zone, to avoid pursuing photographers. It crashed in a tunnel at high speed, killing Paul, Diana and Dodie. The only person who survived was Rhys Jones the bodyguard. Significantly, he was the only one of the four to have worn a seat belt.
My interpretation? A drunken driver, exceeding the speed limit, tried to outrun some paparazzi and crashed, killing himself and the two passengers who were not using seat belts. Other people’s interpretation? Diana was murdered on the orders of the British Intelligence Service at the behest of the ‘Establishment, in particular, the Duke of Edinborough.
Your Granny’s moustache.
Written by BM