Sunday, June 30, 2013

Are you serious? En popgrupp från Skellefteå i Västerbotten?

I remember reading in the early seventies -- and I hasten to add that I’m talking about the early seventies, people, not my early seventies -- a novel by Ira Levin called This Perfect Day. The always-nearly-reliable Wikipedia calls it “a heroic science fiction novel of a technocratic dystopia” and adds that it is “often compared to Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World.”

I would just like to point out here that the title of George Orwell’s book isn’t Nineteen Eighty-Four, it’s 1984. I’m just sayin’.

The Swedish-language Wikipedia, however, says that “This Perfect Day är en popgrupp från Skellefteå i Västerbotten, bildad 1987. Gruppnamnet är lånat från Ira Levin’s science fiction-roman En vacker dag från 1970” which according to Google Translate means “This Perfect Day is a pop group from Skellefteå in northern Sweden, formed in 1987. The group name is borrowed from Ira Levin’s science fiction novel A beautiful day from 1970.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to understand why achieving world peace is such an elusive goal.

A few years earlier, Ira Levin had written Rosemary’s Baby and a few years hence he would go on to write The Boys From Brazil as well. All three of those books kept me turning the pages.

In many ways, This Perfect Day is similar to Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, published in 1967. I remember seeing Michael York as Logan in the 1976 movie version and having a feeling of déjà vu. To be fair, I suppose if I had read Logan’s Run when it first came out, the feeling of déjà vu would have occurred when I read This Perfect Day. That’s life.

On the first page of This Perfect Day the following poem is printed, along with an explanation that it is chanted by children bouncing a ball on a playground:

Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei,
Led us to this perfect day.
Marx, Wood, Wei and Christ,
All but Wei were sacrificed.
Wood, Wei, Christ and Marx,
Gave us lovely schools and parks.
Wei, Christ, Marx and Wood,
Made us humble, made us good.

I could just see those children bouncing that ball and chanting this poem. I was hooked. I had to find out what it meant and why they would do such a thing. I also was intrigued by the face in the book jacket illustration: it had one green eye and one brown eye.

I’m not going to tell you what happens in the book; you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Anyway, when the poem popped into my consciousness this morning out of nowhere (well, okay, out of my dim, distant past and my incredible brain’s long-term storage), my next impulse was to compose a little poem of my own using four names chosen completely at random.

Here it is:

Frances, Ian, Neil, and Shirley,
Stayed up late and rose up early.
Ian, Neil, Shirley, and Frances,
All but Neil wore underpantses.
Neil, Shirley, Frances, and Ian,
Couldn’t believe what their eyes were seein’.
Shirley, Frances, Ian, and Neil,
If anyone could ever deserve the harsh punishment
that one day will be meted out to Neil at the Old Bailey, he’ll.

Now if I can come up with a book to go along with the poem, I just know I will make a fortune.

Especially if I also form a popgrupp.


  1. Please check the efficacy/syntax of this key sentence...
    If anyone could ever deserve the harsh punishment that will
    one day be meted out to Neil at the Old Bailey, he’ll.
    He'll what? I don't get it but I'm honoured that my family and I have gained immortality in a ball bouncing rhyme! (Better than a ball busting rhyme!) In order to construct a complementary poem about your good self I wonder what Rhymes With Brague?

  2. Lord/English Teacher Yorkshire Pudding, Esq., the sentence is not only efficacious, it's also as plain as the nose on your face, and the syntax is absolutely perfect unless you are a complete dunce. In the last line of the poem I went into classic Ogden Nash mode and broke the meter to say that if anyone could ever deserve the harsh punishment that will one day be meted out to Neil at the Old Bailey, he'll [deserve it]. What could be plainer than that? Yet at the same time it is mysterious and provocative because the reader cannot tell from the poem alone why Neil will deserve to receive such harsh punishment, and the reader, not Neil, though maybe Neil too, will just have to read the book, if and when it ever comes out. I think I switched from Ogden Nash mode to Billy Ray Barnwell mode for a minute there in presenting my magnificent explanation. Also, I said "he'll" instead of "they'll" (Shirley, Frances, Ian, and Neil) because I made it quite plain that I was talking only about Neil and not the other three.

  3. Calm down Bobasaurus! A man of your senior years must watch his blood pressure! I have read your wriggly explanation but cannot accept it. I am sorry. We are now going out to play with our balls. We may be some time.

  4. totally lost on the poem you wrote (must be something that didn't make the news over here) but I love that book - absolutely my favourite novel ever and I treasure my (very dogeared) copy and lend it only to trusted friends:)

  5. Thank you, susan, for commenting, and welcome to my blog! (I don't think I have seen you before, but my memory is not what it used to be.)

    My poem was directed to my blogging friend and would-be nemesis, Yorkshire Pudding, who recognizes the names even if no one else will.

    I'm so please to have another reader from New Zealand as Katherine DeChevalle seems to have given up blogging, at least for a while. I hope my blog is worthy of your continued attention.