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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » The Real Truth behind Colonal Bogey... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

daffydoug
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Ever heard the catchy tune "Colonol Bogey march?"

One of the most vivid memories I have of being a child is one of the beginning scenes of the movie "The Bridge On The River Kwai", and listening to the POW's whistling "The Colonel Bogey March". As a devoted National Inquirer reader ("I want to KNOW!"), I did a little research on the tune and Colonel Bogey.

The march, if not the most famous march of all time, is certainly the most profitable. It was written in 1914 by a Lt. F. J. Ricketts, Bandmaster and Director of Music for the Royal Marines at Plymouth. The legend has it that military service personnel were not encouraged to have professional lives outside of the military. Ricketts published 'Colonel Bogey' and his other compositions under the pseudonym Kenneth Alford.

Well, that's great story, but a little deeper investigation reveals that Ricketts used the pseudonym to save his hide while playing a practical joke. Now here's the REST OF THE STORY:

Just prior to the 1st World War (or as is known in the UK, the 14-18 war), Ricketts was stationed at Fort George, Scotland. He was also an avid golfer. The commanding officer was a colonel who also was afflicted with that psychotic behavior of chasing and swearing at a little white dimpled ball.

The colonel had an idiosyncrasy of whistling a descending minor third (musical term) instead of shouting "FORE!!!"

A "bogey" in golf is one stroke more than the average (par), and is anything but complimentary in the minds of those with that disease.

The "Colonel Bogey March" caught on as contagiously as the, dare I use the word?, "sport" of golf. By 1930, it had sold more than a million copies of sheet music. Alfred Hitchcock used it for the tune's first appearance in a fictional movie, the thriller "The 39 Steps", in 1935.

But wait, there's a bunch more! At the outbreak of World War II, British school children continued the golfing metaphor with a number of variations called "Hitler Has Only One Ball". The most commonly sung words were:

Hitler has only got one ball,

Göring has two but very small,

Himmler is somewhat sim'lar,

But poor old Goebbels has no balls at all.

The March was adapted for the motion picture "The Bridge on the River Kwai", by Sir Malcolm Arnold. He wrote a counter melody for it and to this day, Sir Malcolm's adaption is better known. He also wrote another march for the movie that was entitled "The River Kwai March" that is not very well remembered. Many folks mistakenly call "The Colonel Bogey March" the "River Kwai March".

Classical guitar music lovers can recognize Sir Malcolm's name through the recordings of Julian Bream.

When American audiences, I as one of them, saw those POW's marching and whistling, they were stirred to edge of their seats with that indomitable pride. But the satire was not lost on British audiences who were old enough to remember that they got even by criticizing the golfing prowess of the Nazi elite.

And now you know "THE REST OF THE STORY." Nope, there's some more....

I once read a paper by Garrison Keillor published in "An Anthology of Southern Humor", by Roy Blount, Jr., about a golf match in Nashville, using the entire city as a course and hosted by Chet Atkins. I wonder if Chet ever realized how entwined the Colonel Bogey March and golf really are?

Researched from Wikipedia, and Google.

Now you know the rest of the story...for what it's worth
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
MagiClyde
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This doesn't tell us how Ricketts' pseudonym saved his hide. Enquiring minds want to know!
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