Drink to me only with thine eyesAs you see, I don't remember all the words. In fact, it is really quite surprising that I remember as many of the words as I do, given that it is more than fifty years since I last sang this song. Indeed, it is, as far as I can remember, more than fifty years since I last heard the tune played, so just why it sprang into my mind the other evening is and will remain a mystery.
And I will pledge with mine.
Or leave a kiss within the cup
And I'll not ask for wine.
Diddly-diddly-diddly doth ask a drink divine,
But might I of Jove's nectar sip
I would not change for thine.
I wrote fifty years ago, but my maths were letting me down. On reflection I realise that it was actually much nearer sixty years than fifty. At that time I was a pupil at Gillingham Grammar School for Boys. In the first two or three years, when we were aged from 11 to 13, we "studied" music along with the usual range of other subjects. I used inverted commas round the word "studied" as our music teacher, Mr Wilson, had a rather narrow view of how the subject should be taught. His idea was that during the lesson each pupil should have a copy of a book of songs - words and music (melody only) - and would sing the songs as he played the piano. The only songs in that book, or maybe the only ones we ever got to sing, were traditional English songs such as Drink to Me Only, The Ash Grove, Fair Lass of Richmond Hill. What on earth made him think that 12- and 13-year-old boys might learn something by singing those songs is still beyond me.
But then, Mr Wilson (I just cannot remember his nickname) was just one of a collection of eccentric - or even oddball - teachers at that school in those days not so very long after the war. Maybe I'll come back to the subject in a day or two.