Guest poem suggested by Stefan Bartels, and submitted with commentary by Rupindar Millington , as part of our continuing theme on the heat of summer:
(Poem #1896) Mad Dogs and Englishmen
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 the rules that the greatest 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, definitely 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 they have 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 English 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 when the English claim the earth, They give rise to such hilarity and mirth. Ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo hoo hee hee hee hee ...... 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 a jungle town where the sun beats down to the rage of man and 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 foolish 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 around and snooze, for there's nothing else to do. In Bengal to move at all is seldom ever done, But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
This week's theme of Summer Heat made me recall this classic song.... very topical in my household. I'm a BBI (British born Indian) or some might say a BBCD (British born confused Desi) married to an Englishman. There has been a heatwave in the UK and I've been telling my son that "only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" in a bid to stop him emulating the football world cup antics. He thought it was an Indian saying so I retrieved the CD and played it to him :-). I particularly like the lines... It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see, That though the English are effete, they're quite impervious to heat, ...so untrue having witnessed my husband suffering from sunstroke many times!! The song gives a quick snapshot of what the Bristish colonial masters were like. It's a tongue-n-cheek ditty of the British colonial mentality, written in 1932 by perhaps Britain's finest wit, composer Noel Coward. You've got to hear the song to fully appreciate the era in which it was written. I think Noel Coward spent some time in Malaysia; I suggest you find out more by visiting: http://www.noelcoward.net/html/whoisnc.html Enjoy! Rupindar Millington.