We’re having a cull of books. Like the expanding population over the years they have been accumulating at the rate of knots and there is simply no space anymore. For months now the piano lid and top and other available surfaces have been piled high with books that haven’t been able to find a home in the shelves so “No more books!” is a cry from Douglas’s heart. Unfortunately books come along that simply demand to be read and so the pile grows. Thinking of the previous Blog and Cambodia reminded me of Ronald Firbank’s novel “Prancing Nigger.” Written a long time before Political Correctness of course in which Mrs Amadou Mouth, Mammee is desirous of moving to the city of Cuna Cuna where she could “have a house wid a flush toilet.” That too was a cry from the heart. Later when she realises her dream, Mr Amadou Mouth known as Prancing Nigger is heard to moan “Sho she play wid dat thing like it’s a toy.” Interestingly, interesting for me anyway, my stubby fingers every now and again keep hitting the wrong key and I accidentally brought up Research on the word Cuna; and this is what it says – Cuna (noun) a member of a native Central American people of the Isthmus of Panama and northwest Columbia. Cunan language. The Chibchan language of the Cuna people. Chibchan – I love that. What a wonderful word. You feel it could be set to music.
Way back in the 1950’s Prancing Nigger was my second attempt at writing the book and lyrics for a full scale musical but I’m afraid it never stood a chance. With Political Correctness it couldn’t go on now, giving twos up as it does to various taboos. Back then it was because I couldn’t get the rights. They were held by a fiery old colonel out East and Sandy Wilson had got there before me with “The Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli” and evidently the colonel didn’t think much to it so no more rights for adaptations.
I don’t know why Wilson chose that particular book because he had to take from others to flesh it out whereas Prancing Nigger is complete in itself. Maybe he chose it because it is grand camp –description of a choirboy – “with a mouth of cherry cream never far away.” The other problem at the time was – no composer. Music was never written but I still get a kick rereading it.
Can you imagine what today’s reaction would be if Firbank wrote that book now? Cardinal Pirelli that is, who is led a merry dance around the cathedral by the cherub with a mouth of cherry cream who escapes through a side door leaving the Cardinal to expire behind the high altar. Whatever His Holiness may say, the seduction of choirboys has been going on for centuries only in earlier times it was never thought to obtain compensation.
Well, I am quite sure “The Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli” would never see the light of day and if it did it would be immediately banned by the Vatican, American schools and possibly other organisations as well. It would be published in Paris and delivered from under the counter in a plain wrapping.