The Third Leader: The hills are alive

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The Independent Online

Now, another of those multiple choice questions about life in Britain that we like occasionally to pose: How do you feel about the several thousands of children who turned up at the London Palladium yesterday eager to play the junior members of the Von Trapp family in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new stage production of The Sound of Music?

(a) Your heart wants to sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray. (b) You are thrilled that there are so many youngsters in this country with the ambition and energy to follow every rainbow, climb every mountain, ford every stream, no matter how far their parents have to drive them. (c) You feel an urge to stand up and shout, echoing the Lonely Goatherd, "Ho ho, lady odlee ho, ho ho lady odl lay!" (d) You think to yourself: "Oh. No. Not The Sound of Mucus. Again." (e) You think to yourself: "Is there no end to the obsessive compulsion for that meretricious abomination, Celebrity? Have they no chemistry course work?"

If you answered (a), (b) or (c): How nice to be in touch with such a sunny character! Good for you for ignoring the sneers of the so-called sophisticates! Did you know, by the way, that Oscar Hammerstein's working lyric was, apparently, "Cute little babies that fall out of swings - These are a few of my favourite things."? If you answered (d): Come on, now, a lot of people like it. As Richard Rodgers said, "What's wrong with sweetness and light? It's been around quite a while." And it could be worse: The Osmonds auditioned for the children's parts in the film, you know. If you answered (e): Ho ho lady odl lee ho, lady odl lee ho lay!