"..a bardy view!"

Edith Piaf

“The Little Sparrow was the epitome of the classic French chanson: supercharged, even melodramatic, and emotionally extracting every last drop of sentiment from a lyric.”

The singer gained popularity as she toured France, her petite frame concealing an energy which would drive her to the pinnacle of her profession, singing in cabarets and vaudeville theatres and, from 1936, performing on radio and recordings.

Her great fame came after World War II, with her song “Le Vie en Rose” becoming an international standard.

During World War II she worked with the French Resistance by using her popularity to have herself photographed with French prisoners that she had performed for. These photos were then used to make identity papers that would be smuggled back to the prisoners during her return engagements.

Born Edith Gassion on December 19, 1915, in Ménilmontant, a poor district of Paris, legend has it she was born under a street light on the corner of the Rue de Belleville, with two policeman in attendance.

A difficult and exploited childhood led eventually to her being found singing on a street corner in the Pigalle area in 1935 by Louis Leplée, a cabaret owner. Leplée took the young singer under his wing and renamed her “La Môme Piaf” (which in Parisian slang translates roughly as “the little sparrow”.]

The voice of Edith Piaf carries with it perhaps more national identity than that of any other recorded artist in the world. Tiny, frail, and tragic in her life, Piaf brought French identity to the rest of the world in a way that was understandable to all.

Her voice was strong, bold, and passionate, even as she grew more frail and  infirm.

When she died on October 11th, 1963 the news heralded a nationwide outpouring of grief, two million people jammed the streets of Paris, stopping traffic to watch her funeral procession.

Her grave at Père-Lachaise has become a shrine for thousands of visitors every year, and her music continues to stir the heartstrings with vibrant, passionate and yet vulnerable emotions.

Edith Piaf was one of the most popular female singers of all time, with a unique voice and talent that conquered the hearts of admirers around the world.

Her life story was truly remarkable: from her birth in 1915 on a policeman’s cape, under gaslight, to her extraordinary love affairs and heart-breaking tragedies, she was a true artist that lived to sing.



June 16, 2015 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Europe, General, History, Music | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Olympic Closing Ceremony – how was it for you?

Closing ceremonyOlympic closing ceremonies are not designed to upstage the opening ones, and that’s why they are the least remembered.

Although the British contribution during the Beijing handover in 2008 was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Most notably the use of a London double-decker bus which opened out on the top looking remarkably similar to one destroyed during the city’s terrorist bombing in 2005.

The 2012 closing ceremony was meant to celebrate the nation’s arts and music, but even I, an adopted Londoner of over 35 years, was bemused if not confused by most of it.  

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August 13, 2012 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, History, London, Music, Olympic Games, Sport, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brilliant, Bonkers and British.

They said they could never top the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony. They said that the Brits should not even consider trying. The Chinese had more money than sense, and threw it all into a precision regimental display of human mass, with more fireworks to tilt the world on her axis, and enough drums to cause  a quake. The Earth moved in 2008.

No don’t try to better it, just make it different! Well, the London 2012 opening ceremony was different, and it was better. How does a nation, with so much history, that has had so much influence in the world, tell her story in 3 hours?

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July 28, 2012 Posted by | Arts, Books, Boxing, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, General, History, Humour, London, Music, Olympic Games, Politics, Science, Sport, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

To Rap or not to Rap – that is the question…..

In an effort to bring Shakespeare to the masses, a Philippines drama group have spiced up the Bard with a rap musical. William (BBC News) is about a bunch of students who struggle to understand the words of England's (and the world's) most famous dramatist, but eventually discover the magic of his works.

This production by PETA (the Philippine Educational Theater Association) hopes to introduce him in a form which may be more in tune with young people, thereby raising greater awareness.

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September 4, 2011 Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Education, Events, Music, The Philippines | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sulyap – San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines

I have followed this dream develop over the past few years, and seen first hand the hard work and passion in its creation.

What is Sulyap?
Sulyap is a project to encapsulate and enrapture a time gone by. It has embraced  a vision and created a reality. The word means the past, but the past is the future. One man had a vision and made it so.

Consider that  the Philippines heritage has been systematically destroyed or exploited over many years. Traditional buildings have been bulldozed, and along with them so has history.

Sulyap is an outstanding place, it envelopes a lost world, which brick by brick, wood by wood has been restored.

The owner and visionary has sourced the buildings from afar and rebuilt them in their originality. It is a tremendous achievement.

Roy Empalmado has collected artifacts from a bygone age, but not content with that, he has endeavoured to associate traditional cuisine in harmony.

He has breathed new life into a world that almost died. It is a sensory place, encompassing vision, sound, touch and taste.

The Philippines has been raided and exploited over hundreds of years, yet their culture has survived through adversity. Sulyap proudly portrays this unique richness.

The word Sulyap embraces a history which is on the wain, yet, one man, through a unique vision, is trying to restore and regain that history.

This Sulyap is not about Spanish conquest, not about American influence, not about image,  but is everything to identify a unique Filipino heritage.

Sulyap is embracing a lost world.

There is a magic here. It is a magic that transcends reality, it is a vision of an age long lost. Beyond its walls the hustle and bustle of a major city lives and breathes in all its chaotic form.

But within the walls, the clock stops – time is forgotten. The world is a better place. For a brief moment, the past is alive, and the cares and woes of modern life are but a distant memory.

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Arts, Conservation, Culture, Music, The Philippines, Travel | 1 Comment


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