La Môme Piaf

A Little Sparrow

I was going to start by saying that no picture of a sparrow could be complete without, at least, a reference to Edith Piaf. Then I stopped to think about it. She died in 1963, unless you’re over fifty, possibly over sixty, you have, most likely, only the vaguest idea who she was. To be honest, I remember very little about her myself. I do remember, as a very small child, being made, by my father, to sit and watch a juddery, speckled, black and white television programme – with some lady singing on it. The importance of the programme was that it was the first time a show televised in France was shown live in England – the BBC were showing off their new lightweight outside broadcast equipment. My father, naturally, thought I ought to be aware of such an historic event.

‘Who’s that lady singing?’ I asked, to relieve the boredom.

‘It’s Edit Piaf. Hush now. Mummy’s trying to listen.’ I was told.

You know the strange way you remember things? Well, I remember this all very clearly, where many other events in my life – of probably much greater import – seem to have lost their certainty.

But there is one thing that I’m not sure of. You see, for all these years I have felt confident that the song she was singing was “La Mere”. But, her signature song, which she would surely have used on such an auspicious occasion, was “La Vie en Rose”.

I wonder if there’s anyone at the BBC who remembers?

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