Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday's spotlight - Debbie Reynolds

By guest blogger Pete.

In the 1960s we lived in South West Africa - now known as Namibia.  Our home was in the port of Walvis Bay.  Now Walvis Bay is situated in the tropics and such a location is usually associated with fairly continuous hot weather.  Not so Walvis Bay!  An Antarctic current, known as the Benguela Current, reaches the African continent roundabout Walvis Bay.

There are a number of pluses to be gained from this.  The weather is cooler than inland; in fact it was known for me to wear a jumper!  But the big plus was the abundance of fish, particularly pilchards, to be found off the Namibian coast. Fishing off the quay at Swakopmund was more an exercise than a sport!  Walvis Bay was a boom town but that statues was not associated with gold deposits but rather in the richness of the sea.

Photo by FreeCat
Walvis Bay is the only deep sea port in the country so the various fish factories there in the town have a ready means of exportation to markets throughout the world.  If you've ever had a tin of pilchards then the chances are that they originated in Walvis Bay.  When we were there the main export was fish meal.  You've got to live in a small town with nine large fish factories all producing tons of fish meal to know what life is like and how it affects your sense of smell.

This Benguela Current hitting the heat of the tropics produced many foggy, and so, cold days.  Entertainment was a bit sparse and when we arrived the only cinema in town was boasting of a premiere season of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy films.  I kid you not!

You had to travel about 10 miles inland before you began to feel the tropical heat.  In Windhoek, the capital and a few thousand feet above sea level, we used to stagger from cafe to cafe in search of ice cold drinks.  This city boasted a drive in cinema.  There you literally parked your car in front of a huge screen and either sat outside in your own garden chairs to listen to a watch the film or else you clipped  a speaker inside you car  and watched from there.  A friend of ours' came from the U.K. to visit us one Christmas.  Just before she flew home we took her for her one and only visit to a drive in movie.  The film wasn't specially attractive - an early Batman film - but there was only one night when we could take her so off we went.  Seasonal rain didn't improve the experience now did having to watch the adventures of Batman and Robin through windscreen wipers make the film any better.

It was in Windhoek, however, that Pam and I saw one of Debbie Reynolds least well know films, "The Singing Nun".  Sounds awful but, in actual fact, it was very good even if a bit on the yukkie side.  She starred in quite a few films with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor.  There was a dancer for you.  Connors made Gene Kelly appear to have two left feet!

But I digress.  (I read recently that you can now begin sentences with "and" and "but" so why not indulge yourselves?  On Sunday Debbie Reynolds is making a one day appearance in Lincoln's Theatre Royal and Pam and I are going to see her.  More of that next week.

In the meantime, keep singing in the rain  -  get it?

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