Perusing The New Oxford Book of Light Verse edited by Kingsley Amis has, as usual with these things, influenced me. For some reason the following Limerick came to me as I tried to fall asleep last night.
There was a young man of Chambly,
Who incapably sang in a tree.
When asked why it was,
He said, "It's because,
I'm a descendent of Madame Albani."
A friend I used to know grew up in Chambly and told me of the young man there who was known to be a descendent of the renowned and extremely talented international opera diva Madame Albani, and how he lived off the name. My friend was a great opera fan, and he could see why this young man should be proud, but I think he grew tired of being reminded of this young man's relation to fame.
In the 1850s when Madame Albani was still the young Emma Lajeunesse from Chambly, she performed a number of times at the Montreal Mechanics' Institute Hall where she played the piano and later sang. The Montreal Mechanics' Hall on the corner of Great St. James and St. Peter streets (now St. Jacques and St. Pierre) was opened in the spring of 1855 and was later demolished in the 1920s for the Head Office of the Royal Bank of Canada. That building still exists in its massivity. An astonishing pile indeed. When it was built in 1928 it was the tallest building in Canada. Here is a view of the interior of the main banking level. You would feel confident with your money in this bank. Hmm, I think I have digressed rather far from Kingsley Amis and light verse, but, if you look very closely, you'll see that the man in the photograph bears a striking resemblance to the English author.