Thursday, 24 February 2005

The Gendarmes again

A few months ago, in a rather confused post which arrived at Offenbach’s song Les Deux Gendarmes by way of musings about South Pacific and the US Marines, I quoted its first (English) verse. In an email last week an old friend tells me that he has been unable to find the other verses anywhere on the net, though no doubt they are there somewhere.

This friend and his wife, for reasons best known to themselves, went to live in Western Australia some thirty years ago; they didn’t tell me they were going, and the email was the first I have heard from them since then. However, I do not bear grudges and, as my regular readers know, Other Men's Flowers has always been mindful of the desperate need for intellectual sustenance of people living – if that is the right word – in places such as Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Dumbleyung, Wooramel Roadhouse, Pinjarra and Jerramungup, and constantly strives to bring a little colour and excitement into their drab, miserable lives. Here, then, are the lyrics in full:

We're public guardians bold yet wary
And of ourselves we take good care
To risk our precious lives we're chary
When danger threatens we're not there
But when we see a helpless woman
Or little boys who do no harm…
We run them in, we run them in
We run them in, we run them in
To show them we're the beaux gendarmes (bis)

When young men like to make a riot
And punch each other’s heads at night
We are disposed to keep it quiet
Provided that they make it right
But if they do not seem to see it
Or give to us our proper alms…
We run them in, etc.

Sometimes our duty’s extramural
Then little butterflies we chase
We like to gambol in things rural
Commune with nature face to face
But when we go back to our duties
Refreshed by Nature’s holy charms…
We run them in, etc.

[You can hear a bit of it HERE
, if you go down to Samples and click on 15. Or, if you thought it was by Gilbert and Sullivan, look HERE.]


Hugh said...

Thank you! Now I can sing the full version in my bath.

Victor said...

I heard Ian Wallace singing this in the 1950s and can't believe that I've found this after all these years wondering about it. Thank you. Now I can hum the words as well as the tune!

Tony said...

I too have happy memories of Ian Wallace in the 50s. He used to sing, among other things, the Flanders/Swann animal songs. Michael Flanders said of him "But he cheats: he uses a voice."

john burls said...

During WW11 there was an operation called holidays at home. Locally where I lived there was as part of this a concert in a hall in Harrow. As a small boy I paid my few pence and sat there enthralled, and in particular have never forgotten the performance two men gave of Le Beau Gendarme. I have always wanted to be reminded of the full lyrics and now I have-many thanks!

Eigon said...

I learned this at school!
A few days ago, I heard the music on Radio 3 and I thought "I know this - there are words to it".
So thank you for writing them all out.

Tony said...

Thank you for your comment, Eigon. Oddly, Other Men's Flowers gets more hits from people who looked for information on this topic than any other covered in its 1150 posts.

I went to Hay once. It rained.

A1an said...

A1an said...

here is a good youtube of it