Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lord Bonkers' Diary: “Free-ee Me-ee-ee-ee-ee”


When Nelson Mandela was banged up I sent him a cake with a file in it, but I had not great confidence that the South African authorities would be sportsmen enough to give it him. So I decided to raise public awareness of his plight here in Britain by writing a song. I called it “Free Me”, but as fitting the words and music together proved harder than I had expected, it came out more like “Free-ee Me-ee-ee-ee-ee”.

The idea, you see, was that someone should sing the song while in the character of Mandela himself, and I wrote to both Harry Belafonte and Nat King Cole proposing the idea. When they failed to reply I had hopes of persuading a popular actor or entertainer of the day – say Bryan Forbes, Tommy Trinder or Dickie Henderson – to black up and sing it, but their people never rang my people back.

The good news is that the song was eventually taken up by some jolly young fellows from Coventry who made the bold decision to recast the lyrics so they referred to Nelson Mandela in the third person. I questioned the wisdom of this, but It turned out that they fitted the tune much better after this and the record became something of a hit. Perhaps you have heard it?

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary

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