Tit Willow

Last night we attended a vibrant performance of The Mikado at the Torbay Theatre on Auckland’s North Shore. The Mikado is among the most popular of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas, and I’d certainly seen it a couple of times before, though that was a long time ago and I couldn’t recall details of the plot. So I didn’t understand why I seemed to know all the songs by heart. They were familiar almost note-for-note and word-for-word.

Afterwards, I remembered once being told that the first thing I ever said was “Tit Willow”. This sounded rather unlikely and I supposed it was some obscure family joke. But when I asked my mother this morning she said “Yes, that’s true – your Uncle Geoffrey taught you to say it.” (Uncle Geoffrey being the WW2 Spitfire pilot who wrote Geoffrey Guy’s War). She explained that when I was a baby her own mother, my grandmother, had bought a record of The Mikado which I liked very much. Apparently, as soon as I was carried downstairs in the mornings, I would wave at the gramophone demanding that it be played over and over for as long as the adults could bear to listen.

I don’t recall any of this, but it seems to prove that early childhood memories are indeed retained in our subconscious minds, and can surface many years later in the right setting.

For a Youtube video of the song, please paste this link into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoAmmiTzliI

 

4 thoughts on “Tit Willow

  1. This made me laugh Jenni …… we always maintain that our son Jakes first word was ‘hamburger’! Not sure you’d want to put music to that. Hope you are feeling better. Jen xx

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  2. Thank you Jennifer. Many years ago the D’Oyly Carte (?spelling) company toured NZ with sparkling performances of Mikado and Pinafore and probably others. They got some clever local(s) to write extra and topical verses for the Lord High Executioner’s list and got a great reception. This may well be a G&S tradition. I agree that the plots aren’t memorable but the clever lyrics and music certainly are.

    My nephew was born deaf but could hear (or perhaps feel) at least parts of recordings of Paul Robeson – he made similar demands to yours! I should say that despite the deafness my sister insisted that he stayed in mainstream education, lip reads and speaks quite well and as far as I know doesn’t use any sign language. With his father George, now dead, they started the Emerson Brewing Company (now sold to Kirin/NZ Breweries) who continue to employ Richard as a development manager. Great beers!

    I haven’t read Geoffrey Guy’s War but will look for it. They must have been terrifying times.

    Best wishes, Peter

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  3. Very interesting to read this. My mother was one of the ‘three little maids from school’ at the age of about 13 and she could still sing along aged 90 despite Alzheimer’s and severe st memory loss. I believe that our bodies retain memories from the earliest experiences, including intrauterine, even though we may not have conscious recall and may have been pre verbal. Sending seasonal greetings to all three of you and hoping that the New Year will bring improved health, joy and peace. With love from Pamela.

    Sent from my iPad

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