Doing the Lambeth Walk

Since my grandfather`s funeral, I cannot get "that" song out my is as if his spirit is omnipresent-when I awake, whilst eating dinner or having a bath.  Even though I´ve felt exhausted and heavy with emotion since the day, each time I want to wallow in grief, or despair at life, I hear him singing this song loud and clear in my ears, causing a surge of energy where I am no longer defeated but instead, feel wide awake and the need to recognise my family all around me.  I see the challenges as well, but the now with a defiance and vitality that we can choose to face this life with...and in doing so find joy, humour and true humanism.
     Only this week have I been told by my energetic father-his levels of vitality have suddenly surged too no doubt by grandfather`s influence-that the Lambeth Walk was a song sang with temerity against the Nazis.  Londoners led by the Pearlies, were determined to say through this song that you will never crush our spirit-"Everything`s free and easy". This video that was done in 1942 with traditional editing techniques, takes the propaganda film from the Triumph of Will and splices Nazi`s doing the Lambeth Walk ridiculing them, way before Monty Python did their Ministry of Silly Walks.  Apparently Joesph Goebbels was infuriated when he saw this and demanded it to be banned.  Like my grandfather and father always believed, you don`t fight anger with anger....humour, satire, parody are much more powerful.
The Kennedy sisters.   Look straight out of a Chekhov play, three of the six-including my Pearly Gran-usually together animated, full of smiles and family gossip here are silent carrying their own private thoughts and a lifetime of stories to themselves.  
     As I write this, a flurry of Kennedy revival programs are playing on BBC Two giving a very private look at the complicated family, almost 50 years after John. F. Kennedy death.  Related, so I am told, a long way back, my great aunt Margret remarked how our coat of arms is one of the few royal ones, but also that the Kennedy Clan was one of the most bloodthirsty lot.  Remembering this, in the background I hear how Joseph Kennedy was ruthless in getting his sons to the top of the game in American politics. 
David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassilis commissioned the half gothic, half classical Culzean Castle to mark the clan`s territory in Carrick in Ayrshire; yet the Kennedys traveled far-as did the sisters-exploring new lands and forming new alliances in those foreign lands. They were seekers and creators of knowledge.  James Kennedy founded the first Scottish University-St. Andrews.  In the USA the Kennedy family played a leading role in public life.

My Pearly gran loved her public life with my grandfather.  Always by his side, giving him strength, courage and leadership.  Remembering one of my last visits to their house, my grandfather spoke candidly in a hushed voice whilst my gran took off her pearls in the bedroom, that it was her that had been commanding the kingdom. She had had a firmer grip on the realm than most would have thought and that he had been happy to let her have it, whilst outwardly he had implemented what needed to be done, she had been in charge.  Being in the winter of his life and knowing wisdom and patience instead of foolish impatience, he knew how to let this strong woman--my pearly gran--lead whilst being a kindly man full of advice that never fully reveals itself to you at first breath, but lingers and gradually works its magic as your veils of understanding penetrate its depths, whilst all the time enjoying this gradual process of discovery through laughter.
     Feeling like I have only just touched the tip of the ice-berg of my family history, I know that their legacy will continue to seep into my life in unexpected ways and that alone gives me reason to live with joy not despair.  Yes, Pearly grandad, you´ll find us all, any evening, any day, doing the Lambeth...doing the Lambeth Walk-Oi!

Photos by Tom White (my brother)

A short poem in memory of my Grandfather:

You are the pearly star

You are the pearly star
You shine so bright, you are
Such a wonderful memory in me
You`ll live forever the way I see
I feel I´ve come so far
With you as my guiding star
I love you so very much
and even though your hand I cannot touch
I know you are part of peace in me
That sets my heart and soul so free.
Rest in Peace dearest Grandad, you`re in my thoughts, always