Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Mad Dogs And Englishmen"

As I write this it's 82F/28C both here where I am and in Bangkok; the difference being that it's lunchtime here and 02:30 tomorrow morning there. It's forecast for Bangkok to be 92F/33C in another 10 hours, with a 30% chance of rain throughout the week. Being Thailand's rainy season that's no real surprise, but what's still a surprise to me is how hot it can seem there mid-day when I'm out and about. During dry season there when it's often over 100F/37C it can be especially brutal.

The late Noel Coward wrote a song lamenting "the white man's" habit of disregarding the delightful (and practical) period of calm during the heat of mid-day, and recorded several versions of it. It's something that runs through my head often while I'm out in the mid-day sun there, and I thought I'd plant the seed in yours. If I'm lucky it'll take hold and you'll think of it occasionally, too.

A link to my favorite recording of it is at the bottom.


In tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of the rules that the greatest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry
And one must avoid its ultry-violet ray.
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they're obviously, definitely nuts!

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,
The Japanese don´t care to, the Chinese wouldn't dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one
But Englishmen detest-a siesta.
In the Philippines they have lovely screens to protect you from the glare.
In the Malay States, there are hats like plates which the Britishers won't wear.
At twelve noon the natives swoon and no further work is done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
that though the English are effete, they're quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will impale his solar topee on a tree.
It seems such a shame when the English claim the earth,
They give rise to such hilarity and mirth.
Ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo hoo hee hee hee hee ......

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun,
They put their Scotch or Rye down, and lie down.
In a jungle town where the sun beats down to the rage of man and beast
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok at twelve o'clock they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this foolish habit.
In Hong Kong they strike a gong and fire off a noonday gun,
To reprimand each inmate who's in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie around and snooze, for there's nothing else to do.
In Bengal to move at all is seldom ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.


Anonymous said...

In Dallas at 5pm, it's 105 degrees. That makes today the hottest day this year.. so far. ;-(

khunbaobao said...

Gosh, sorry to hear that... and happy I'm NOT there, even if it IS a "dry heat". Stay hydrated and take care!

Anonymous said...

... nothing 'dry' about it.. we have humidity too. Cities in the Southwest like Phoenix and Vegas have 'dry' heat. In Dallas we're short of mad dogs and Englishmen.. here it seems only the Mexican yard men can take the heat of the noon day sun. I've seen guys wearing pants, long sleeve shirts and wide brim hats cutting grass in heat over 100 degrees.. but not sweat.