From singing (in Welsh) in the pub at her grandparents’ village in Wales in 1938 at the age of 6 to singing “Mighty Lak a Rose” on the BBC in 1942, through the 50s as a slightly twee English “popular” singer and into the 60s as France’s “*Pétulante Pétula” rocking and twisting her way into charts all over Europe and beyond, then on to the Downtown girl of the USA, Las Vegas, and films, musicals and more and more albums, in English and in French.
Still recording; still charting… and currently playing the Bird Lady in a new London production of Mary Poppins. 80 years in showbiz and still rocking.
Nous t’souhaitons une très belle journée, Pétula.
* Pétulante translates as lively, full of life, vigorous…
PS: And, of course, the highlight of her international career:
As longtime Munguinites know, my absolute favourite pop singer of all time is Petula Clark.
Why, you may ask!
Well, let’s start with versatility. There’s nothing much she can’t sing from ballads to folk, from country to jazz, from pop to rock n roll to show tunes, throw in some comedy stuff too…and in several different languages. And that voice, still pretty, and bang on the note. And if you have musical ears, like I do, that matters.
And then there’s the tireless hard work and attention to detail. I’ve watched her in rehearsals on stage in old jeans and a t-shirt with no makeup, making sure that everything is perfect. Not just for her, but with the musicians, the backing singers, the sound, lights. She is an out and out professional, and I’m privileged to have watched her doing the less glamorous stuff on numerous occasions.
Then there is her dedication to her fans. Send her a request for a signed photograph and it may take a little time, because it will go to Switzerland, and she might not be there for a few weeks, but she will reply. And pretty much after every show she’s there at the stage door or in the bar (much nicer) signing photos and having a few words with fans.
Today she is 86 years old, although if she reads this she’ll not thank me for mentioning it. Because one of the other things that I admire about her is her attitude to ageing. She gets on with it regardless. When someone asks her about her age, she can get a little snippy, which is frankly, unlike her. “I don’t ask you your age”, she is likely to throw at the interviewer. “You’re doing your job and doing it well, and I’m doing mine. Why would our ages matter?”
At present, she’s in the USA, touring an album of English language songs the theme of which is “From Now On”, looking forward, not back, although of course, singing some of the big hits from yesteryear… “I’d get lynched if I didn’t sing Downtown”. She has been on the road for a month and there’s another month of touring to do. Tireless.
Earlier this year she released an album of songs written by Canadian writers and musicians, “Vu d’Ici” (Seen from Here). It was conceived, and recorded in Montréal and toured in the French-speaking provinces of Canada with it.
She was 85 years old at the time and this was her first Canadian tour for 54 years, and still she played to packed houses. Not only that, but the disc made the French Canadian charts.
Her first ever chart hit was on 1954 with “The Little Shoemaker” in the UK. So that gives her a chart career of something like 64 years!
So, I hope you won’t mind me taking up a bit of Munguin’s space to say:
‘Bon Anniversaire, ma chère Pétula. Munguin et moi esperons te revoir bientôt, soit en Ecosse soit en France. Olympia, peut-être? Bisous x”.
After all, Pet has had the privilege of meeting Munguin on a few occasions and pronounced him to be “mignon”! Which he informs me, he most certainly is and she’s ok too!
And when I say well, I don’t mean that things are going well. I just mean W-e-l-l…
You see, we have in the UK:
the slowest wage growth since Napoleonic Wars;
the worst productivity for 2 centuries;
a national debt which has doubled in 7 yrs;
the highest inflation rate for 5 years;
the lowest ever UK credit rating;
the highest ever trade gap;
a budget deficit still £50 billion, despite 7 years of austerity;
debt standing at £1,940,773,400,000 and climbing at £5,170 per second, so heaven knows what it will be when you read this.
Additionally, hospitals, GPs, schools, roads, transport, council services are all chronically underfunded and collapsing under the strain of cuts and of trained and qualified people leaving the sinking ship. And of course, to save money, the government is going ahead with the disastrous, underfunded, badly set up and even worse managed Universal Credit, which sees people wait for months for their benefits, a part of a benefits system to which may be attributed the deaths of thousands of people.
As if that were not enough, the UK is dealing with the most difficult and complex issues it has faced, at least since world war two.
And in charge (and I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek), while all this goes on, we have a bunch of squabbling, badly behaved, incompetent pests, who find it hard to keep their trousers on, and dependent for their majority on a party made up of people who really believe that the world started 6,000 years ago and that the Giant’s Causeway was created late on THAT Saturday night, after which God rested!
So all in all, not too well, rather than well, I’d say… but what do I know?
I’m just gonna sing a wee song with my musical director here.
Those of you who have followed Munguin’s New Republic, and his old one too, for a long time, will know that I’m a ridiculously big fan of Petula Clark, who, over the years I’ve been to see in hundreds of places and on a few occasions got to sing with. Today (Nov 15) is Petula’s birthday. Not that I suppose she’d thank me for mentioning it, but it’s her 85th birthday.
She is celebrating it in the way she does best. She has kicked off a concert tour of the USA with a new English language album “Living for Today”, so she’ll be singing, which is what she likes to do better than anything else.
She’s just spent the summer in Québec making an album of French Canadian songs with young upcoming Québecois writers and producers. When she finishes the USA tour she will be touring Canada with her new French album. By the time all this is over she’ll be pretty nearly 86 years old.
She has now been in show business for 77 years.
You may or may not like her music, but what you can’t ever knock is her boundless energy and enthusiasm.
On Remembrance Sunday, mindful that Leonard Cohen died a few days ago, and given that Gerry sent me this (thank you, Gerry), I thought it was appropriate to feature this poem today.
You’ll all know by now that I’m a kinda anti-war person, I think Niko called me a peacenik at one point, and that’s fine. I’m cool with that description. It doesn’t stop me being aware that sometimes wars happen; sometimes you have to defend yourselves. I just don’t think you should go looking for war. Particularly if you do it for self-aggrandisement, or to please your more powerful ally.
This pic was captioned by the Daily Mail: “Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn prepare to lay wreaths”. Respect Scotland and the Scottish fallen.
I do think, though, that if you, as a country, send people into war, for whatever reason, you have a duty to look after them, provide them with the very best of equipment and facilities and care when they are on active duty. You also have a sacred duty of care to those who are wounded in your service, whether that is physically or mentally, and to their families and, to the families of those who died. It seems to me that that is something that this union falls down very badly on, and indeed has always fallen down on. Why did Earl Haig have to set up a fund to help the wounded, ask yourselves!
Men (mainly) come back from war, are discharged into “civvy street” and are left to deal with the trauma of what they have seen, and of their physical injuries, often at the tender mercies of the DWP determined to save a grubby penny here and there and meet the targets set by a malevolent government, penny-pinching over the sick and lavishing money on the splendours of parliaments and palaces.
And this has its inevitable consequences.Some people come back from war zones having witnessed, on a daily basis, people, their own, or the enemy’s, civilians, sometimes children and babies, being blown to pieces. Is it really reasonable to expect them to settle down to 9-5 with a stiff upper lip, and pretend they have never had to brush someone’s brains off their uniforms?
However, the top brass will all have put on a good show this morning. The Queen, and the party leaders, and princes* left, right and centre in Colonel in Chief uniforms; princesses wearing expensive black hats and oversized poppies, wiping tears from their eyes.
They do that once a year: and good for them. Perhaps, though, one of them would like to look into why, only last week, 12 homeless ex-servicemen were evicted from a squat in Manchester, and within hours, once of them “George” was dead from Bronchial Pneumonia, at 82 years old!
What in heaven’s name was an 82-year-old doing living in a squat in the 6th largest economy in the world, especially an 82-year-old who had served in the forces? Why were 11 other ex-servicemen living in squats?
Any answers, Fallon?
Showing grief and concern, tears and £1000 hats would be a lot more convincing if anything like the same concern was voiced for the “survivors”.
*I’m mindful that of all of them, Harry does a lot of good work with veterans.