The King’s- and Finley’s- Speech

Watched “The King’s Speech” the other night. We both thought it was incredible. Neither one of us really needed another reason to love Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, or Geoffrey Rush, but we were given new reasons, nonetheless. A very good film.

Something struck me during the film, though. One of the ways that Geoffrey Rush combats Colin Firth’s stammer is by having him sing his thoughts to tunes he knows well, rather than trying to speak them. (There seems to be some pretty interesting research going on to explain the mechanics of this.) This made me think of Finley. She does not have a stutter, nor has she had incredible success starring in period dramas (sidenote: Mr. Darcy, please do not shame all the men in the audience by diving into that lake again). That having been said, she WILL contentedly sing all of her dialogue (AND internal monologue, if you let her), based on whatever existing melody she is thinking of at the moment. Lana was remarking on another form of this one day, talking about how something she has never understood is the draw of the musical as a theatrical form– how she has always thought to herself, when a character warbles into song halfway through a sentence, that such behaviour was unnatural– that in life, no-one ever really carried on like that. Now, there is the shining example of our Finley, who can’t STOP singing. Even if you ask.

Perhaps there IS some karma involved, then.

In practice, this method of communication is fairly pleasant. Mostly pleasant, in fact, until (rarely) a sudden change occurs, and it becomes… grating. (“Grating” like falling off your skateboard halfway down a hill & rolling into the gravel margin is grating.) It can be particularly disconcerting when certain subjects are broached, however. The musical-attending public is totally used to songs discussing relationships in general, and love in specific. Death or dying is a commonly covered subject as well. Remarkable events are often sung about, and even the ‘normal’ events of the day to some extent; especially if you live on a riverboat, in 19th century France, in a junkyard, etc. What does NOT get sung about, usually, is the need to have someone “check your bottom” after having completed your toilette. This is relatively common at ours, now. Though the lyrics change and are adapted to the exigencies of the moment, I can tell you that I greatly prefer the melody for “DAAAAD / can you PLEA-EASE / COME to CHECK / my BOTTTTTTOOOMMMM”  to come from, say, something she has just heard from Pandora on the stereo, or some Zumba song Lana was playing, over ANY nursery rhyme. Some of this comes from a frustration with quasi-compulsive repetition; anyone who has seen the Wee Sing Together video (BTW, a great “revenge” gift for friends with children– thank YOU for that, Matt & Nicole), can attest to the soul-death that accompanies your fifth time through some of those tired old chestnuts (“MY name/is SALLY Smith /THIS is where I LIIIVVVVEEE…”); having the “request for attendance” made using nursery rhyme melodies, in Finley’s piping voice (and I never really understood what “piping” meant before we had her) is… well, see the definition of “grating” above.

The other side of this coin, however, is the fascinating stream-of-consciousness travel narrative you sometimes get walking down the street. Frequently with lines that rhyme, rock & roll couplet-style– “there’s another man / sitting on a bench / I like fairies / and I don’t like the Witch.” There are often witches in Finley’s songs. Also “sparkles”, “locks”, “grinches”, and “babies.” And there is usually use of the word “shuuk” or “schuck,” which  is a Finley creation and seems to be an onomatopoetic interjection (or maybe an action verb?); you have to hear how many ways she can insert and/or rhyme it to believe it. All of which is pretty hilarious to have sung directly into your ear as you carry her around on your shoulders. Of course, as mentioned before, there are those rare moments when it goes from being interesting and entertaining to feeling like you’ve got somebody else’s headphones on, with no volume control, and no way to control the “shuffle.”

I took her to the Islington Central Library yesterday– we got her a “cart” & eight books. (Evidently, more things rhyme with “cart” than “card,” so she will be having a “library cart.”) She sung about the library, the books, and the walk all the way back. It was great. I think a trip to Madame Tussaud’s or the London Dungeon might make for even funnier songs, though. Or the Jack the Ripper walking tour?

—   —   —   —   —

(EDIT: No, world, I am not serious about taking a three-year-old to the London Dungeon or on a Jack the Ripper walking tour.)


Finley, wearing a Pompom hat.

Portrait of a Three-Year-Old Rhapsode


Filed under In England

3 responses to “The King’s- and Finley’s- Speech

  1. Stephen

    Finley looks so cute in that photo / she’s perfectly dressed for autumn.
    Singing is fun and not loco / oh please won’t you come check my bottom.

    (Sung to the tune of the first two bars of Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.”)

  2. Jen

    Sadie (four in april) also sings everything. and I mean it. everything. she sometimes cops to a particular tune, but often just goes with the flow and is actually not so bad at it. Her recurring themes also include witches! And currently–love, winter, “putting the horse before the cart” (which, yes, she adopted from Feist) and “thinking about my doorbell” (which, yes, she adopted from the White Stripes).

    Dalley and Frisvold–it’s the future Rogers and Hammerstein … (does Rogers have a “d” in it I just f-ed up the joke?)

Add to the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.