How punk went Plas­tic

Scottish Daily Mail - - Freeview Primetime Planner - Com­piled by Charles Legge

QUES­TION What was Plas­tic Ber­trand singing about in his 1978 hit Ca Plane Pour Moi? THERE’S a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion about the ori­gins of this song.

The orig­i­nal, called Jet Boy, Jet Girl, con­cerned the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a 15-year-old boy and an older man and how the boy re­jects him for a girl.

It was writ­ten by Alan Ward (real name Timms), front­man of punk band El­ton Motello, con­sist­ing of stu­dio mu­si­cians led by him. First re­leased in 1977, it be­came much more fa­mous af­ter it was cov­ered by The damned.

Shortly af­ter the song was re­leased in the UK, Bel­gian song­writer Roger Marie Fran­cois Jouret hired Ward’s ses­sion mu­si­cians and trans­formed him­self into New Age act Plas­tic Ber­trand. Em­pha­sis­ing his pretty-boy looks and punk­ish fash­ion sense, Jouret teamed up with pro­ducer Fran­cis ‘Lou’ depri­jck.

Ça Plane Pour Moi — That Works (lit­er­ally trans­lated as ‘glides’) For Me’ — was mu­si­cally al­most iden­ti­cal to Jet Boy, Jet Girl, though the orig­i­nal lyrics were deemed too con­tro­ver­sial and were com­pletely rewrit­ten by Bel­gian mu­si­cian yvan ‘Pipou’ La­comblez.

Ça Plane Pour Moi was a huge in­ter­na­tional hit, with Jouret singing the French lyrics in a car­toon­ish voice with a falsetto vo­cal hook straight out of The Beach Boys.

The lyrics are sur­real, ap­pear­ing to chart a chaotic, drunken/drug-in­duced sex­ual en­counter with a girl. Verse two has: Allez-oop! One morn­ing A dar­ling came to my home, A cel­lo­phane pup­pet with Chi­nese hair, A plas­ter, a hang­over, Drank my beer in a large rub­ber glass Oooo-ooo-ooo-ooo! Like an In­dian in his igloo one con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the song was the idea that Plas­tic Ber­trand didn’t sing it at all and it was per­formed by depri­jck. In 2006, depri­jck took Jouret to court in Bel­gium, want­ing to be recog­nised as the per­form­ing artist, but of­fer­ing no ev­i­dence to sup­port his claim.

Ber­trand, on the other hand, had a signed con­tract from the record label. The judge fined depri­jck € 10,000 for bring­ing a ‘ground­less and vex­a­tious’ suit.

Alan Ward has re­mained san­guine about his song be­ing copied. ‘ We’ve all been ripped off at some point in our lives, but judg­ing by the emails I re­ceive, my lyric has touched many more peo­ple and seems to ring a chord in many more hearts than the French one will ever do,’ he said.

‘That’s why I wrote it. If I was meant to be rich it would have hap­pened. But I am rich in the knowl­edge that my thoughts will never dis­ap­pear.’

Charles Re­gan, Not­ting­ham.

QUES­TION How long would it have taken a heav­ily preg­nant Mary to travel from Nazareth to Beth­le­hem on the back of a don­key? Was there a recog­nised road or track be­tween the two towns? THE Gospel ac­counts give no de­tails of the south­ward route fol­lowed by Mary and Joseph and any trav­el­ling com­pan­ions from their home in Nazareth in Galilee, to Beth­le­hem, south of Jerusalem. They prob­a­bly trav­elled in the safety of a car­a­van, per­haps with oth­ers re­spond­ing to the cen­sus call.

There were two pos­si­ble routes at the time. A longer one crossed the Jor­dan River, joined with the King’s High­way, a ma­jor ar­te­rial Ro­man road along the flat Jor­dan val­ley, and crossed back over to head back west to Beth­le­hem.

The shorter one went through the Judean hill coun­try and crossed the bor­der with Sa­maria.

His­to­ri­ans are un­de­cided as to which road the pair might have taken. Jewish re­la­tions with the Sa­mar­i­tans were strained, so the longer road would have been the safer and flat­ter op­tion. There would have been large car­a­vans head­ing down the King’s Road, which would have af­forded safety and speed.

Nazareth to Beth­le­hem is 70 miles as the crow flies, but this route would have been about 100 miles.

The Bi­ble doesn’t say that Mary rode on a don­key, which would have been un­com­fort­able for a heav­ily preg­nant woman, so we can as­sume she prob­a­bly walked the 100-odd miles, which she could have man­aged in about eight to ten days.

Some hold that they would have taken the shorter route (80 miles) to get Mary to Beth­le­hem faster. Con­tem­po­rary Jewish his­to­rian Flav­ius Jose­phus wrote: ‘It is the cus­tom of the Galileans at the time of fes­ti­val to pass through the Sa­mar­i­tan ter­ri­tory on their way to the Holy City.’

This route would have taken them south across the Jezreel Val­ley, then up along the ridge of rounded hills and weath­ered peaks (2,625ft to 3,380ft) form­ing the back­bone of the coun­try.

The Sa­mar­i­tans had sculpted th­ese with ter­races where they grew olive trees, fig trees and grapevines. Given the po­ten­tial dangers and the climbs in­volved, this would have taken at least as long and seems the less likely route.

Sylvia Acuejo, Aberys­t­wyth, Ceredi­gion.

QUES­TION What is the ori­gin of the say­ing ‘done up like a kip­per’? FUR­THER to ear­lier an­swers, the first de­stroyer that I went to sea on was back in oc­to­ber 1937, for ‘a run-down Chan­nel’ i n HMS Sabre, an old coal- burn­ing de­stroyer with tremen­dous ‘round-down’ on the fo’c’sle deck.

Al­though it was only two years be­fore the out­break of World War II, we were in­stalling an ex­per­i­men­tal anti-sub­ma­rine de­tec­tion de­vice of Ger­man de­sign!

Af­ter fit­ting it, we were ac­com­pa­nied to sea by what was then a new ‘A’ Class sub­ma­rine, which pro­ceeded to play Hide And Seek with us.

It was my first time at sea and ev­ery­thing was new to me. At break­fast in the Mess, I was in­tro­duced to, and of­fered a choice of, a ‘two-faced b*****d with­out any guts’, a kip­per, or I could have a ‘sp­it­head pheas­ant’, a bloater.

In the Stok­ers’ Mess, a kip­per was known as ‘yar­mouth beef, nine ribs to the inch’.

Roy Down­ing, La Nu­cia, Spain.

Cover story: Plas­tic Ber­trand

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