Column #570 Darts near the River Kwai
Monday, April 8, 2019
Darts near the River Kwai
If you’re a whistler there are handful of tunes you no doubt have in your repertoire.
While the “top” lists of anything are subjective if you’re a whistler you will agree “The Fishin’ Hole” and “Colonel Bogey March” belong near the apex of any list. More commonly known as the theme song to the Andy Griffith Show and the soundtrack to the Bridge on the River Kwai the tunes are classics, just like “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and “Dock of the Bay” – all immediately recognizable even to people who can’t whistle a note.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” My mother once told me if my dad died to pack her in a box and mail her to Crosby. Or maybe it was Frank Sinatra.
I’m a whistler from way back. I can whistle all these tunes, virtually any tune, pitch perfect. For many years, I was even better at the hard hat two-note whistle and getting slapped by members of the female persuasion – just ask Rachel Jacobs from Flint, Michigan. These days the Pound Me Too (is that politically incorrect?) movement frowns on this.
Recently, I had business near Kanchanaburi, Thailand, at a location literally on the banks of the legendary River Kwai. I just had to stop and walk along the famous Burma (now Myanmar) Railway span that connects the tracks between Rangoon (now Yangon) and the former Siam. Of course, I also needed to check out the darts scene in the area.
I was disappointed on both counts.
As to the first, the bridge is fake. The real bridge, the bridge from the movie which the British Film Institute once rated as the 11th best British film of the 20th Century, was constructed for the movie in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) not Thailand. The movie was also shot there. Most of the plot and characters were fictional.
Still, it’s a great flick. It won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and grossed $12 million in the US in 1958, more than any other film (Peyton Place was second). (For reference, the top grossing movie of all time in the US at almost $937 million is Star Wars – The Force Awakens from 2015. Supposedly John Part has watched this film 306 times, so he deserves some credit for its place on the list.)
Still, to see the not real bridge and softly whistle the “Colonel Bogey March” while milling among hundreds of other probably disappointed tourists was an experience I am pleased to have had, and recommend. And several times the simple whistle that once got me slapped to the floor in high school came in handy. Rachel Jacobs was ahead of her time. Not even Joe Biden would have been safe.
Darts in Kanchanaburi? They suck.
An evening’s bar crawl was unsuccessful, at least it was to the extent I can remember. There is however a little resort nestled in the leafy country outside of Kanchanaburi City called the Thai Garden Inn (74/11 Moo 4, T. Thamakham, A. Muang) that advertises the availability of a board. It sounds like a nice place, a jungle respite with several bungalows and a pool. But I didn’t venture there to be disappointed further, opting instead to bang a couple of holes in my hotel room wall to hang the board I carry with me.
My next stops? Fukushima and then Hiroshima. I know the darts scene is better in Japan and as it happens I also know Kyu Sakomoto’s “Sukiyaki,” another famous whistle song, the top hit on the Billboard 100 in 1961. I don’t understand a word but am pretty sure it’s about darts.
You know it too. Just listen…
From the Field,
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