Monday, 22 November 2004

More brief encounters

Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
Track twenty-nine…Boy, you can gimme a shine
I can afford to board a Chattanooga Choo Choo
I've got my fare and just a trifle to spare
You leave the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham an' eggs in Carolina

I think I remember reading once that it should be ….ham and eggs in “Carolina”, because that was the name of the dining car, not the state which split into two in 1729, but I can find no confirmation of this, though if there had been a dining car so called it might have looked like this.

Then again, it might not.

Talking of the state, Eartha Kitt was born in South C. and had a pretty rotten time there. I knew her before she was famous; at least, I went to see Katherine Dunham’s dancers in London in the early fifties and read later that she had been one of the troupe. I also saw her after she was famous, as the star of a variety show at a huge cinema in CROYDON, for God’s sake. I’m not sure Orson Welles was right to say that she was the most exciting woman in the world, and it would be an exaggeration to say that these encounters played a major part in my life, but later I did go several times to see her in New Faces, a film of an American musical.
(There used to be a simple test for sophistication. You just asked the question Which would you rather be: kissed by Marilyn Monroe or bitten by Eartha Kitt? )

She had the finest diction of any singer I have ever heard, with every consonant perfectly in place, and sang rather well in several languages, unlike, for example, the boring Joan Baez who always sounded exactly the same, in whatever language she thought she was singing.

For news of Eartha in 2007, go here.

I realise that I have drifted away completely from the important matter I intended to discuss in this post, which actually has nothing at all to do with dining cars or Eartha Kitt. It will make the post too confusing if I start covering it now, so I will stop here and start again in my next post the day after tomorrow, unless some more urgent topic supervenes.

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