Cole Porter was an Episcopalian,
a farmer’s son, from Peru, Indiana,
whose ambition was to write ‘Jewish Tunes’.
My mother’s favourite song was ‘Begin
the Begine’, which Cole Porter composed,
the story goes, one evening at the piano
in The Ritz Bar of the Ritz Hotel, Paris.
The love song is in a minor key.
It personifies longing, wit, irony.
My mother and father met in the city
of Kano, Northern Nigeria.
‘When they begin the beguine,
It brings back the sound of music so tender,
It brings back the night of tropical splendour,
It brings back a memory evergreen!…’
She and my father, Gentile and Jew,
danced to the music at their wedding
in Kano’s driest, dustiest month –
the month Heydrich’s Wannsee Conference
agreed The Final Solution in
less than ninety minutes.