My song today is ‘Mandy’. This song was recorded by Barry Manilow, an American singer-songwriter, arranger, musician, producer, and actor with a career that has spanned more than 50 years. His hit recordings include ‘Could It Be Magic’: Mandy’: ‘I Write the Songs’: ‘Can’t Smile Without You’: ‘Copercabana’.
He recorded and released 46 Top 40 singles on the ‘Adult Contemporary Chart’, including 13 songs that hit the Number 1 spot, and 28 of which appeared within the top ten. He also released 13 platinum and six multi-platinum, albums. Manilow has sold more than 75 million records as a solo artist worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists.
This song was released during the early 1980s. In all my life, I have only once personally known of a girl or woman called ‘Mandy. I came across the young woman in question when I was living and working in Toronto, Canada. The only reason I remember her (now 56 years ago) is because of her blonde hair. The young woman lived in Texas and was on her way home via a relative she had visited in Toronto. She was in her mid-twenties and conducted herself like a high-powered businesswoman. She behaved full of confidence and looked like a woman who was well capable of handling any man who tried to put her down, with her wit and charm alone.
As she signed in for an overnight stay, I will never forget her costume and hat. She was a smart-looking woman and wore a fashionable and expensive twin suit which was crowned with a tall, flamboyant hat that one might expect to see on ‘Ladies Day’ at Ascot races every June. Later that day, I was attending the hotel desk when she came down to make an inquiry. I then understood why she had worn so large a hat. She had beautiful blonde hair which now hung loosely over her shoulders. Her tresses and locks did not stop until they touched her waistline.
It was around 9:00pm and we spoke at the hotel reception desk for a good twenty minutes. I complimented her on her beautiful hair and made some remark about the amount of time it must take her to daily brush and maintaining its texture. When asked if it ever got in her way, she replied, “When I go riding, it has to be fastened uptight, otherwise it might cause an accident”. Her mere mention of horse riding instantly made the fair damsel more interesting to me. Because of a childhood accident, I had been left with one leg shorter than the other and often lost my balance. To improve my balance, since the age of 17 years I had started to engage in various sports and activities, of which horse riding was the most recent. Mandy’s long hair and horse-riding activities provided me with an instant image. It was a picture of a fair beauty riding a horse that is immortalised in English history. From that moment on, I had renamed her in my own mind as ‘Lady Godiva of Coventry’. I told her that she would forever remain ‘Lady Godiva’ in my mind. She had never heard of ‘Lady Godiva’ so I acquainted her with the famous woman.
I told her that Lady Godiva was the wife of the Earl of Mercia. She was reportedly a woman who cared for her people. The Earl imposed ever-higher taxes on the people of Coventry, and they found the new taxes too high to pay. The Earl’s wife beseeched her husband to relent but the more that Lady Godiva begged her husband to lower the taxes he had imposed on the people, the more adamant he became that they would remain. Lady Godiva could sense the injustice of her husband’s actions and continued to plead on behalf of the poor people of Coventry. Finally, and wanting to bring the issue to a close, the Earl told Lady Godiva that if she rode through the streets completely naked, he would lower the taxes; thinking that this would shut her up and put an end to the matter. He was more than surprised when Lady Godiva accepted his offer. Lady Godiva sent a message through town telling the people of the agreement she had made with the Earl on their behalf and asked for their cooperation to preserve her dignity during the ride. She told everyone to close their shutters and stay indoors. At the appointed time when the streets were empty, Lady Godiva rode through town. She was naked from head to foot and was visually protected only by her beautiful long hair which had been grown to waist length, and which now wrapped around her most private body parts. thereby preserving her womanhood. The Earl gave in and lowered the taxes of the town. However, a licentious tailor named ‘Tom’ drilled a hole through his shutter, and as Lady Godiva rode past his property, and he caught a glimpse of her naked body as nature had made her. He was struck blind for his disobedience. Some think his punishment of blindness came from heaven, and some think that the town ‘took care of him’ themselves. This is where the phrase ‘Peeping Tom’ for a voyeur comes from. There were many celebrations to remember Lady Godiva’s courage and Peeping Tom was added to the story in the 17th century.
Mandy loved the story and gave me one of those looks that make a man's mind think twice about what he says next. She told me that it was a lovely story and that she would always think of me whenever she recalled the tale. I thanked her and told her, “Likewise". Mandy only stayed at the hotel one night and had her stay been as long as her beautiful golden locks, I would most certainly have tried to have seen more of her.
It would be another twenty years before Barry Manilow recorded 'Mandy' and had it not been for the crowning glory of her waistline hair that walked into the hotel reception of 'The Glenview Terrace Hotel' in Toronto over 50 years ago, I might never have remembered the blonde beauty from Texas.
Love and peace Bill xxx