WE’LL MEET AGAIN – By Des Kelly
Too often forgotten, sometimes, are a few talented individuals, especially from the “Ceylon” of old. The talents I speak of, are manifold. In my time, just to name a few of the various characters, there were several “teachers” such as a British Nun, Mother Brittall, in my very first School, the Convent of Our Lady of Victories, Moratuwa, who was both the librarian & entertainment producer, a highly intelligent woman who, not only taught me the value of books, in general, but also saw the raw talent hidden in the person of a very young male student in an all-girl school, spoke to the Mother Directress (Seetha), to help her get this young man on-stage for the first time at the ripe old age of five, to sing his first “solo” song. Mother Brittall was indeed, a very talented producer who certainly knew what she was doing.
Later on, at St.Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya, the “boss” of the Music, Art & Drama Society was a gentleman by the name of Noel Cruz, a very talented Catholic priest, who took me over, with the help of Papa DeNiese, our Art-Master, who would carry a short rattan-cane UNDER his right hand coat sleeve and whip it out, gunfighter-style, whenever he came to a choir-boy who was singing either sharp or flat and give the unmusical scholar a taste of “rattan”. I was lucky to not ever have the taste of it. Never a “great-singer”, but at least, I sang in-tune. Papa DeNiese was also a great “Artist” (painter) of his time, but it was his son, who outshone the “old man”, and his paintings adorn the walls of many Sri Lankan homes, to this day. We had a couple of other “musical priests” at St.Peter’s. The one I still remember well was fondly & respectfully nicknamed “Jive-boy”. Father Noel Cruz, did the correct thing, by the Church, later on, and gave up the robes of the Catholic Church & it’s rules of Celibacy to marry the woman he loved. If the former King Edward VII of England could give up his throne & Kingship to do it, Noel Cruz did it to respect the Religion he served, rather than shame the robes he wore, as Priest. I totally agree with him and also agree with our Pope of today, who, although he will NOT permit the laws of the Confessional to be broken, may well look into the Celibacy-Laws of the Catholic Church at the moment. My own belief is, that if a man OR woman do not believe that they can obey the celibacy law required by the Catholic Church, they should look for another occupation.
Coming back to my lesser-KNOWN talents, I cannot ever forget my “prayer- monitor” in the most notorious Junior D form at St.Peter’s, my late, great mate, Denis Roberts. We were also together in the Royal Ceylon Navy, later on. Talk about singing, suffice to say that if you closed your eyes, you would swear that it was “old blue-eyes” singing. Den. loved everything that Frank Sinatra did, & would emulate his idol so perfectly, he was given the title “carbon-copy” of Sinatra, at a talent quest held in England.
And so, I come to my reason for this “true story”. Again, at St.Peter’s College, I was fortunate enough to befriend a young, extremely talented Patrick Nelson. He was “magic” on the black & white keys, played the piano “by ear”. I am not sure as to whether he went into music-theory later on, but Patrick could “play” and back any vocalist perfectly.
It would be remiss of me, not to mention an older Gerry Crake, here. I was privileged to know Gerry personally, and it was Gerry who accompanied me on the recording of my “hit-song” Dream-World”. Gerry could play the piano with or without written arrangements & never missed either a beat or a note. He was a superb pianist, gone, now, but never forgotten.
Finally, a lady who unfortunately, I never met. She HAD to be another superb pianist, her name ? Arlene Peck. I have tried many times to contact her son, Jerry, but, so far, not successfully. Anyway, this doesn’t matter Arlene, to put it musically, let me repeat the title of my story & God bless you, AND every single TRUELY TALENTED Musician from Ceylon (Now, Sri Lanka). Yes, Arlene,
“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when,
but I’m sure we’ll meet again, some sunny day”