Now here’s a story to put a smile on your face – and on those of eight children.
A highlight of our daily around-the-clock reporting of the COVID-19 outbreak has been In Crisis – Travel Retail Voices, a podcast series in which we speak to leading travel retail executives about how their lives are being affected by the crisis.
Ten days ago, we featured Jonathan Holland, the owner of Jonathan Holland & Associates, known among his many friends as ‘Chaps’.
It was an excellent and typically considered interview, in which Chaps with typical exuberance (and great suaveness, it must be said) talked admiringly about the way the Singaporean authorities were handling the situation. Where things got particularly revealing though was when he referred to being the perfect husband to his delightful wife Eleen, noting how he was taking care of all the domestic chores around the Holland residence, including washing the dishes and vacuuming.
“Am I ever!” he replied, when asked if he was a new domestic goddess.
Given his wide network in the industry, Chaps was never going to get away with that easily. And so it proved. Dan Cappell (himself featured on In Crisis – Travel Retail Voices), now Chief Commercial Officer at Ontario International Airport, responded in verse:
Chaps was a businessman
Through and through
Until that point in time
When the pots started calling too
Dan proceeded to challenge a long list of esteemed industry colleagues to write an appropriate song or ditty about Chaps’ domestic prowess; pledging to fund two life-changing children’s cleft operations through The Smile Train, and asking me to judge the results. With myself, Sunil Tuli and Chaps himself matching the offer, that was funding for eight operations that would see the lives of children and their families transformed. But could Chaps’ friends step up to the challenge?
Within hours, the answer was obvious. All this forced isolation has clearly unearthed immense latent literary talent among some of travel retail’s finest. When judging time came around, I was faced with some near impossible choices (and mostly unpublishable entries), so decided to take my cue from various industry awards and give out more accolades than there were entries.
In the knowledge that this is a family audience, I shall reveal very limited highlights only.
Best adaption of an original music score (Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby)
Joint Winner: Karl Marnane, Butlers Chocolates
All right stop, Collaborate and listen
Chaps is back as a brand new addition
Cocooned in his house, cause of Corona
Dreaming off the past, Rhona and Simona
Ice Ice Navy
Dressed sharper than the tip of a nail
He will escape that house and prevail
It does not matter where he goes
He is always smiling with that horrible white jersey that has a rose
Ice Ice Navy
Hair like Gary Grant combed lightly
Something grabs ahold of him tightly
It’s Eleen holding his privates politely
Reminding him that the bins go out nightly
Ice Ice Navy
Best adaption of an original music score (Lonnie Donnegan, My old man’s a dustman)
Joint Winner: Dermot Davitt, The Moodie Davitt Report
He said ‘I’m from the Isle of Man
‘And I know my P&C
‘If you want the voice of expertise
‘Look no further sir than me’
Now he’s stuck at home in lockdown
Scrubbing every pan
From fondue sets to bidet jets
No job escapes this man
Best use of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge extended epic poem format (space restrictions on this Blog prevent us from publishing the full version), Peter Sant, Rémy Cointreau
Chaps is in lockdown in his Singapore home
Never before has he not needed his comb
His Cary Grant looks are no use to him now
His smooth talking patter no longer taking a bow
He replaces his passport with dustpan and brush
Getting to Changi he won’t be in a rush
Now house chores are calling and he steps up to the plate
No Hammer, no Rat, no Moodie-san, get used to it mate
Mmmm, you’re right, Coleridge’s reputation just might be safe. But the winner simply had to be David Spillane, owner of Global Travel Retail Sales in Ireland. Knowing that Chaps is a life-long Liverpool Football Club supporter, David adapted the team’s stirring anthem, ‘You’ll never walk alone’, to brilliantly appropriate effect.
(If you don’t know the tune, you can sing along to the orchestral version above or listen to the more famous version by Gerry & the Pacemakers below)
Room (and discretion) only allows me to publish a couple of David’s variations on the song’s famous chorus as this….
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone…
You’ll never walk alone
… Became this…
Wash up through the grease
Wash up through the grime
Though your hands are shrivelled and worn
Wash up, wash up
With soap in your hands
And you’ll never wash alone….
You’ll never wash alone
Though it may have Gerry reaching for his Pacemaker, David thus joins a long line of Irish literary greats from James Joyce to Oscar Wilde; from Chaps Swift (sorry, Jonathan Swift) to Samuel Beckett.
More seriously, eight young lives will soon be changed through Dan’s initiative and the brilliant responses of his industry colleagues.
Travel retail has, of course, given generously to The Smile Train before. It was the beneficiary of our ‘Turning Tears into Smiles’ fund-raising dinner in Hong Kong in 2007; and of the hugely successful ‘Miles for Smiles’ fun runs in Dubai in 2008 and 2009. Incredibly, the three events raised around US$2.2 million for The Smile Train, including, famously, a US$1.5 million donation by the Dubai Duty Free Foundation to assist the charity’s work in the Philippines – support by the retailer that continues to this day.
So work on Chaps. Work on. And wash up, with soap in your hands. For you’ll never wash alone. And now you’ll never smile alone either.