Puny And Dying

Yesterday I listened, belatedly, to a Little Atoms interview with Jonathan Meades. (It’s available for download here – the second one, dated 11 May 2007, though the earlier interview is well worth your attention too.) Each Little Atoms show has a musical interlude, often chosen by the guest. The magnificent Meades, perhaps the only reason to watch television these days, picked La canzone dell’amore perduto by Fabrizio de André. Not being at all familiar with Italian cantautores of the late twentieth century, his name was new to me, but I adored the song, so I decided to find out more. You can go and read his wikipedia entry, as I did, and do further research if you so wish, as I haven’t, yet.

The entry devotes a paragraph to de André’s kidnapping by Sardinian bandits in 1979, which is interesting, but I thought I’d draw your attention to two other things, mentioned in passing, that particularly intrigued me.

De André’s first wife was named Puny. This is a superbly Hooting Yardish name, isn’t it? I do not think it will be too long before a character named Puny turns up in a piece of prose here, perhaps one that features heroic infant Tiny Enid. I recall that somewhere or other I refer to a book or film entitled I Was Puny Vercingetorix, and though puny there was intended as an adjective rather than as a first name, I may have to revisit that in the light of my new knowledge.

The other thing that made me slap my forehead with glee was the title of de André’s second album – or rather, the contrast between it and the titles between which it was bracketed. (Forgive those two ‘between’s, I can’t think offhand of a more felicitous way of putting it.) The first album was called Volume One, and the third was dubbed Volume Three. Yet for some extraordinary reason, the title of what a lesser artist would have called Volume Two was instead Tutti morimmo a stento, or We All Died Agonizingly.

That’s the thing about Jonathan Meades, he provides you with new and unexpected avenues to explore, even when he’s just picking a piece of music.

3 thoughts on “Puny And Dying

  1. The juxtaposition of ‘puny’ and music in Mr. Key’s review reminded me of the puny tune (www.punytunes.com), a deceptively simple little flute very similar to the ocarina. Ocarina fans, in turn, may be interested to know more about The Chuckerbutty Ocarina Quartet (www.seaview.dial.pipex.com/chuckerbutty.htm), who take their name from ‘justly neglected’ English organist and composer, Oliphant Chuckerbutty.
    (Never let it be said that Hooting Yard does not attempt to keep up with Mr Meades in its abilities to delight and entertain!)

  2. Didn’t Dobson refer to Ah Fang as ‘puny’ during a press conference once?

    It would be exciting to discover that Tiny Enid had a puny male sibling (possibly named Colin).

    p.s. My spell checker suggests that Dobson might actually be Doubloon.

  3. “We All Died Agonizingly” is surely one of the best album names ever isn’t it? I’ve ordered it on the strength of that name alone. Won’t have any idea what he’s going on about though!


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