|The Films of Petula Clark|
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
October 7, 1969
by JACK HAMILTON
"The children are my domain," she says of Katie 6, and Bara 7. "They are always with us,
never in boarding schools. Even the idea of their going into show business chills me."
sing in French.
they react beautifully to that. It's a kind
of subtle battle of the sexes. In France,
a woman is really a woman and has her
place. In England, I was rather independent. As a Scorpio, I used to test
people, and found my self unconsciously
choosing men whom I could step on. I
was wretchedly unhappy.
In the war years, `Pretty Pet" traveled on troop trains, sleeping on luggage
racks, sometimes singing on the same
bill with Julie Andrews. "People still
compare us. They must think: They're
contemporaries, they're English, they
sing, they both have long faces.' Otherwise, we have completely different points
of view, musically. As a singer, Julie
looks at things in a clear-cut way. She
must reassure people by telling them
that this-is.how-it-is. With me, there are
blurry lines, things I like to underline
or throw away. I never had a set style,
really. I'm still searching. Everything
for me is based on the rhythmic line.
Then I sing over the top of that. I never
forget the rhythm, but I like to play with
it, fight it sometimes, tease it."
messenger boy. I didn't care Claude
was the public relations man. I was told
that if I should decide to stay in France,
he might escort me around Paris to meet
the disc jockeys. I stayed forever."
songs love, sex, the real
things in life. The French go to the
music hall to experience something, not
just to sit and watch. I was trained in
the English music-hall tradition, where
you come on, keep it nice and light, sing
a cheery song. then a love song, then a
funny song, never let it get too deep.
When I stood on the Olympia stage myself, where Piaf had once stood, I found
myself giving more, really digging down,
chucking frills and trappings."
Petula, born in the horsey town of Epsom, has always been sports bent: riding, racing, skiing,
swimming. Here she rides champion Gazala at Paris' Chantilly racetrack.
When she was giving birth to her first daughter, Petula suffered what she calls a descent into hell. "The nurse told me to breathe deeply when she gave me gas but she forgot I was a singer. I really breathed deep, the needle almost broke, and then I had a terrible vision under there. A voice mocked me, saying there is no God, you must he crazy. life is a joke, a trick to carry on so that children will he born, love means nothing. I begged the doctor to tell me that this happens to all women in childbirth, a kind of blaming your husband for bringing the pain on you. But I doubt that, for I very much wanted that child, so much so that I had a second child and didn't take anesthetic at all and bore her under natural childbirth. But then this all-is-evil nightmare came back again - months later. I felt like a frightened animal." - I have moments when it still returns. but not with such ferocity. When Bobby Kennedy was murdered, it came back again. What's happening in the world? Are the Americans lost? Are we all lost? Are we beasts?
It's times like
that when I think the moment of truth
must be the gas thing but I couldn't go
on living if I thought that.
"I like her because she is human, broad minded, and unafraid to show her honest feelings. Like me, she needed all along the different kind of man she met by chance."
Petula and her family take their holidays at a villa in Nice, on the French Riviera, but home now is Geneva.