I was handing back a homework essay yesterday to a Year 13 boy when I informed him that I was going to tell him something which he would never forget – something that would live on in his memory after I was dead. He was intrigued; the whole class was intrigued. I wrote the word ‘full’ on the board and explained that this is the only time that the double consonant ‘ll’ occurs at the end of a word; all other words ending in ‘ful’ have only one ‘l’ – beautiful, joyful, thankful, hopeful… By the way, did you know that there are only four words in the English language which end in ‘dous’? I’ll let you think about that.
Speaking of new worlds, TV offers the same opportunity. This week I watched the documentary on RTE 1 about Ulster songstress of the 50s and 60s, Ruby Murray, who wowed crowds with her husky tones until her crooning career was cut short by the advent of filthy Rock n Roll and she descended into alcoholism. Her name may live on as rhyming slang for an Indian meal but she still holds the record for having five hits in the charts in a single week in March 1955.
The programme was called Ruby and the Duke and Peter Wilson (aka Duke Special) interviewed Ruby’s son and daughter and others who knew her in her heyday. Her story has been repeated so many times in the show biz/music industry: a meteoric rise to fame and success followed by a collapse into self-destruction and obscurity as the next new thing deposes the old. The highlight of the programme for me was the magical moment when Brian Kennedy sang one of Ruby’s hits, Softly, Softly accompanied by Duke on the piano. Absolutely gorgeous!
People may come and go; we will come and go, but some things are eternal – like good literature and good tunes. This is supposed to be the bleakest and darkest week of the year. Read a book or sing a song and live long.
Softly, softly come to me
Touch my lips so tenderly
Softly, softly turn the key
And open up my heart