They Affirm

Peter Sarstedt “Where Do You Go To My Lovely”

Listen to the words of this song, they are extraordinary. It is a story, a poem and a song all in

peter

one. It tells the tale of two people brought up in similar circumstances whose lives turn out very differently. There has been much speculation about who the song was written about and was thought by many to be about Sophia Loren, an actress who was brought up in Naples but Peter always said that this was not the case and he had no one in particular in mind although he had based part of the lyrics on his then girlfriend Anita.
The song owes much of its style to the music of Jacques Brel and it sounds very french (I know Brel was born in Belgium but it still sounds french to me). Peter Sarstedt was born in India but moved to the UK with his parents in 1954.
The lyrics reminds me that fame and fortune do not always bring happiness. A theory poets rarely get to put to the test. Peter died in January of this year aged 75.

I remember the back streets of Naples
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly-borne tags, they try

When people talk about immigration they seem to forget the circumstances that force people to make a new life in a different country. A few years ago I went along to a citizenship celebration at Newcastle Civic Centre. I watched as people from many different cultures and countries declared that they were now British citizens by reading out a declaration of citizenship. It was a very moving experience.
Afterwards, I talked to a few of the new citizens and their stories were as diverse as they were amazing. It seemed to me that these people represented a very positive addition to our country and by welcoming them we enriched not only their lives but ours as well.

They Affirm

From the four corners of the globe they come

Dodging the assassin’s bullet

The dark despair of the political dungeon

Gnawing hunger rising like dust from a parched field

For others, it is new opportunities

Wrought from hard won qualifications

The freedom to hold a partner’s hand in public

To open doors rather than have them slammed in their faces

They affirm that right with a firm handshake

They answer with a grin that begins within

And spreads across their faces

Like a summer sunrise

©Jeff Price March 2018

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