Recently, while thinking of the vogue for all things Continental in postwar England, I was reminded of Peter Sarstedt's Where Do You Go To (My Lovely). It was an unlikely No 1, based on a French-sounding waltz and scattering cultural allusions like confetti, some of which probably bewildered even those who considered themselves well-versed in 'existentialist' sophistication. The incessant name-checking makes it a fascinating snapshot of contemporary Euro-cool. The song deservedly won the Ivor Novello award (shared with Bowie's Space Oditty), and was later used in American director Wes Anderson's film The Darjeeling Limited. This story about a young woman's determination to hide her origins has a melancholy that somehow overcomes its quaintness: here is a delightful performance of it on Top of the Pops, in which Sarstedt sports wonderfully sixties hair and the teenage audience sway mournfully. Sarstedt's other releases included the underrated I Am a Cathedral--not as trippy as it sounds--and, er, Frozen Orange Juice.
Where Do You Go To is also interesting from another point of view: Sarstedt, along with his brothers Clive 'Robin' Sarstedt and Eden Kane, was part of a major post-war migration of Anglo-Indians to England, which also included crooners Engelbert Humperdinck and Tony Brent, and the broadcaster Pete Myers, who worked for Radio 1 during the sixties. This involvement in the entertainment world was not surprising, given their community's long-standing interest in music and film (described in The Way We Were: Anglo-Indian Chronicles, edited by Margaret Deefholts and Glenn Deefholts); when they came to England, they brought with them a unique subculture heavily focussed on American and British films and music. Their story is an under-appreciated part of the Sixties pop boom.
Chestnuts, Part 2: Roasting
I have previously lauded the joys of conkers, but that is certainly not the only use of chestnuts. Anyone who grew up with English children's books of a certain vintage will remember the mouth-watering allusions to roasted chestnuts, and these can still be bought from street vendors in some cities in the run-up to Christmas. However, you can also roast them at home in the oven. Caution: make sure to cut the skin beforehand, or you will otherwise experience exploding chestnut horror, as I once did. If you want to double the cosiness quotient, cocoa goes surprisingly well with them...