Monday 13th February 2017

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J’attendrai

L. Poterat / D. Olivieri / N. Rastelli / T. Rallo

J’attendrai le jour et la nuit
J’attendrai toujours ton retour
J’attendrai car l’oiseau qui s’enfuit
Vient chercher l’oubli dans son nid
Le temps passe et court en battant tristement
Dans mon see?you’re si lourd
Et pourtant j’attendrai ton retour
J’attendrai le jour et la nuit
J’attendrai toujours ton retour
J’attendrai car l’oiseau qui s’enfuit
Vient chercher l’oubli dans son nid
Le temps passe et court en battant tristement
Dans mon see?you’re si lourd
Et pourtant j’attendrai ton retour
Le vent m’apporte de bruits lointains
Guettant ma porte j’écoute en vain
Hélas, plus rien plus rien ne vient
J’attendrai le jour et la nuit
J’attendrai toujours ton retour
J’attendrai car l’oiseau qui s’enfuit
Vient chercher l’oubli dans son nid
Le temps passe et court en battant tristement
Dans mon see?you’re si lourd
Et pourtant j’attendrai ton retour
Et pourtant j’attendrai ton retour
Le temps passe et court en battant tristement
Dans mon see?you’re si lourd
Et pourtant j’attendrai ton retour

“J’attendrai” (French for “I will wait”) is a popular French song first recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938. It became the big French song during World War II; a counterpart to Lale Andersen’s Lili Marleen in Germany and Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again in Britain.

“J’attendrai” is actually a French version of the Italian song “Tornerai” (Italian for “You Will Return” composed by Dino Olivieri (music) and Nino Rastelli (lyrics) in 1936, said to be inspired from the Humming Chorus of Puccini’s Opera “Madame Butterfly”. It was first recorded in 1937 by both Carlo Buti and Trio Lescano (accompanied by the Italian jazz quartet Quartetto Jazz Funaro and become a huge hit in Italy.

The French lyrics were written by Louis Poterat, and “J’attendrai” became an instant success. Rina Ketty’s version was followed the same year by one of Belgian chanteuse Anne Clercy, and both Tino Rossi and Jean Sablon recorded it in 1939. When France was occupied in 1940, it quickly became the big French war song, with the love song’s title being interpreted as meaning waiting for peace and/or liberation.

The French version of this Italian song became so well known across Europe that it was often called “J’attendrai” even when recorded instrumentally, such the two versions recorded by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli in 1938, or referred to as the original source when sung in other languages, such as Richard Tauber’s British “Au revoir” (1945, with lyrics by Bruce Sievier) and Bing Crosby’s and Hildegarde’s American “I’ll Be Yours” (both 1945 with lyrics by Anna Sosenko).

I will wait

I will wait night and day,
I will wait forever,
For you to come back, I will wait,
For the bird flying away
Comes to seek oblivion in its nest.
Time flies and runs,
Beating sadly in my oh so heavy heart
And yet I will wait for you to come back

I will wait night and day,
I will wait forever,
For you to come back, I will wait,
For the bird flying away
Comes to seek oblivion in its nest.
Time flies and runs,
Beating sadly in my oh so heavy heart
And yet I will wait for you to come back

The wind is bringing distant sounds,
Watching at the door, I’m listening in vain,
Alas, there is nothing for me to hear anymore.

I will wait night and day,
I will wait forever,
For you to come back, I will wait,
For the bird flying away
Comes to seek oblivion in its nest.
Time flies and runs,
Beating sadly in my oh so heavy heart
And yet I will wait for you to come back
And yet I will wait for you to come back

Time flies and runs,
Beating sadly in my oh so heavy heart
And yet I will wait for you to come back

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Ethel and Ernest

Based on the award-winning book by acclaimed British author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, this beautifully hand-drawn animated feature film tells the true story of Raymond’s own parents Ethel and Ernest – two ordinary Londoners living through a period of extraordinary events and immense social change.

Heartwarming, humorous and bittersweet, the film follows the lives of lady’s maid Ethel and milkman Ernest from their first chance meeting in 1928, through the birth of their son Raymond in 1934 to their deaths, within months of each other, in 1971.

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From the socially stratified 1920s to the moon landing of 1969, the film depicts, through Ethel and Ernest’s eyes, the most defining moments of the 20th century – the darkness of the Great Depression, the build up to World War II, the trials of the war years, the euphoria of VE Day and the emergence of a generation from postwar austerity to the cultural enlightenment of the 1960s.

Echoing the lives and concerns of the London working classes through momentous social and political change, Ethel & Ernest is a heartfelt and affectionate tribute to an ordinary couple and an extraordinary generation.

Raymond Briggs was born in Wimbledon, Surrey, England, to parents Ernest (1900-1971), a milkman, and Ethel Briggs (1895-1971), a former lady’s maid-turned-housewife. He attended Rutlish School, then a grammar school, pursued cartooning from an early age and, despite his father’s attempts to discourage him from this unprofitable pursuit, attended the Wimbledon School of Art from 1949 to 1953 to study painting, and Central School of Art to study typography.

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From 1953 to 1955 he was a conscript in the Royal Corps of Signals at Catterick where he was made a draughtsman. After these two years of National Service, he returned to the study of painting at Slade School of Fine Art at University College, London, graduating in 1957. After briefly pursuing painting, he became a professional illustrator, and soon began working in children’s books. In 1958, he illustrated Peter and the Piskies: Cornish Folk and Fairy Tales, a fairy tale anthology by Ruth Manning-Sanders that was published by Oxford University Press. They would collaborate again for the Hamish Hamilton book of magical beasts (Hamilton, 1966). In 1961, Briggs began teaching illustration part-time at Brighton School of Art, which he continued until 1986.
He was a commended runner-up for the 1964 Kate Greenaway Medal (Fee Fi Fo Fum, a collection of nursery rhymes) and won the 1966 Medal for illustrating a Hamilton edition of Mother Goose. According to a retrospective presentation by the librarians, The Mother Goose Treasury “is a collection of 408 traditional and well loved poems and nursery rhymes, illustrated with over 800 colour pictures by a young Raymond Briggs.”

The first three important works that Briggs both wrote and illustrated were in comics format rather than the separate text and illustrations typical of children’s books; all three were published by Hamish Hamilton. Father Christmas (1973) and its sequel Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975) both feature a curmudgeonly Father Christmas who complains incessantly about the “blooming snow”. For the former, he won his second Greenaway. Much later they were jointly adapted as a film entitled Father Christmas. The third early Hamilton “comics” was Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), featuring one day in the life of a working class Bogeyman with the mundane job of scaring human beings.

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The Snowman (Hamilton, 1978) was entirely wordless, and illustrated with only pencil crayons. Briggs said that it was partly inspired by his previous book, “For two years I worked on Fungus, buried amongst muck, slime and words, so… I wanted to do something which was clean, pleasant, fresh and wordless and quick.” For that work Briggs was a Highly Commended runner-up for his third Greenaway Medal; no one has won three.

An American edition was produced by Random House in the same year, for which Briggs won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, picture book category. In 1982, it was adapted by British Channel 4 as an animated cartoon, which was nominated for the annual “Oscar” and has since been shown every year (except 1984) on British television. On Christmas Eve 2012 the 30th anniversary of the original was marked by the airing of the sequel The Snowman and the Snowdog.

Briggs continued to work in a similar format, but with more adult content, in Gentleman Jim (1980), a sombre look at the working class trials of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, closely based on his parents. When the Wind Blows (1982) confronted the trusting, optimistic Bloggs couple with the horror of nuclear war, and was praised in the British House of Commons for its timeliness and originality. The topic was inspired after Briggs watched a Panorama documentary on nuclear contingency planning, and the dense format of the page was inspired by a Swiss publisher’s miniature version of Father Christmas. This book was turned into a two-handed radio play with Peter Sallis in the male lead role, and subsequently an animated film, featuring John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft. The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984) was a scathing denunciation of the Falklands War. However, Briggs continued to produce humour for children, in works such as the Unlucky Wally series and The Bear.

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Briggs won the 1992 Kurt Maschler Award, or the Emil, both for writing and for illustrating The Man, a short graphic novel featuring a boy and a homunculus. The award annually recognised one British children’s book for integration of text and illustration. In 1993, he was named Children’s Author of the Year by the British Book Awards.[citation needed] His graphic novel Ethel & Ernest, which portrayed his parents’ 41-year marriage, won Best Illustrated Book in the 1999 British Book Awards. In 2016, it was turned into a hand-drawn animated film.

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His wife Jean, who suffered from schizophrenia, died from leukaemia in 1973, only two years after his parents. They did not have any children.

As of 2010, Briggs lives in a small house in Westmeston, Sussex; because of the clutter and lack of light, he kept a separate home from his long-term partner, Liz, her children and grandchildren. Liz died in October 2015 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Briggs continues to work on writing and illustrating books.

In 2012, he was the first person to be inducted into the British Comic Awards Hall of Fame.

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