Saturday, February 26, 2011

Looking for Mrs Peel 1

The year 1967 has been described as The Last Good Year, by Canadian historian Pierre Berton, also as The Year That Changed Cinema, by Time Magazine, as well as the Best Year Ever in Pop Music by, well, just about everyone. In and around anglo Montreal,that memorable year, radio was the communications medium of choice for young people. Kids listened to the likes of Buddy Gee on CKGM, Dave Boxer on CFCF and CFOX's Charles P Rodney Chandler on their chintzy transistor radios and kept track of the respective weekly hit lists. One of the most popular new DJ's was an import, a former British merchant marine sailor named Roger Scott also on CFOX. In late May of 1967 Scott aired 'pirated' tapes of the Beatle's Srgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Album, before it was officially released. My older brother was mightily impressed.

In the US it was the Summer of Love and the Summer of Race Riots -two facts I couldn't ignore because my British father preferred getting his news from American Walter Cronkite, on the CBS television station WCAX Montpelier Vermont - and as was the norm, we had but one black and white tv. But these same heady Expo months were also a time of tension in the Middle East with Six Day War where we came close to nuclear war ….again... and 'the tipping point' for Vietnam and a time when decisions were made that 'signaled the end of Britain's' imperial adventure'.* According to Historian Matthew Jones, in 1967 the British wanted to pull out of 'East of Suez'(Singapore, Malaysia and the MIddle East) entirely. While school children from Victoria to Gander were learning the words to CA NA DA, Bobby Gimby's giddy centennial year signature song , the Americans were putting pressure on the British to stay. President Lyndon Johnson even bribed them, offering to back the pound sterling and "solve all your financial problems."*

So, if Lyndon Baines Johnson appeared to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, as he rode that long long escalator up past the kitschy photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart in the American Pavilion at Expo 67 on his official visit, that's because he did. (* Matthew Jones' Decision Delayed Historical Review.)

Malaysia, the 15th country to sign up for the World's Fair - in July '64 (plot 3320 Ste Helene's Island) didn't have a pavilion in the end. They had pulled out; perhaps because Singapore had been expelled from the Malaysian Federation in 1965 ( to quell the unrest between the Chinese and the Malays) and couldn't come up with the money.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Malaysia's first PM had visited the Expo site in '64. One wonders what Bobby Gimby felt about all this: the so called Pied Piper of Canada, a former CBC musician and bandleader, and a Canadian cultural icon, is reported to have composed them an unofficial anthem, Malaysia Forever, and earned his whimsical moniker, on a visit to Singapore in '62. The song itself is steeped in mystery; no former colonial or expert in Malaysian studies I have reached has ever heard of it. Negara Ku has been Malaya's (Malaysia's) national anthem since 1957.

Looking For Mrs. Peel Complete play pdf