Henry Mancini wrote film scores for more than one hundred motion pictures.
He’s responsible for the Peter Gunn theme, Moon River (he can’t be held responsible for Hepburn murdering it), and perhaps most notably, the theme for The Pink Panther.
As a mediocre trumpet player (in both senses - I’m not all that accomplished, and nor is my trumpet), I was aware of Mancini long before I suffered the movies that carry his soundtracks.
I painfully sat through Peter Sellers’ Inspector Jacques Clouseau bit, eagerly awaiting the appearance of the cartoon panther. I had been erroneously informed that if I stuck with it, the cartoon section would start.
There is no panther. It’s a diamond. And it’s boring. Tricked by my own mother. She also told me that Julie Andrews would get blown up by a bomb in the nunnery and that for the final musical number on the hills that were alive with the sound of music, Julie would be in a wheelchair.
Apart from a killer theme-tune, which should in some form be used in promotional advertisements for The University of Durham (think about it and you’ll get it. No? Sing it - Durham, Durham, Durham Durham Durham Durham Durhaaaaam...), The Pink Panther has left an unrivalled legacy in the biscuit jar. Pink Panther wafers are perhaps the best merchandise ever left behind by a movie.
The original Pink Panther film was released in 1963, so for more than fifty years the demand has remained. That’s pretty impressive. Suicide Squad has been in cinemas for fifty days, and everyone just wishes they’d make good on that titular promise.
So what’s so amazing about Pink Panther wafers? They’re pink. Now you might be thinking that that’s not a big enough deal, but you’re wrong. They’re pink. I mean, come on - pink wafers?! That’s awesome.
They’re also accidentally vegan, which, given that fact that we’ve already ascertained (the being pink part), is quite unusual, as not only is there usually milk or milk powder in anything in the biscuit aisle, but in anything pink there’s usually squashed up beetles, or “cochineal” if you’re a food manufacturer, or “carmine” if you really hope nobody notices.
Now for the sad bit. Not only was 2016 a terrible year for the celebrity head-count, Brangelina, and Americans, but the Brexit shebang fallout began.
Perhaps quite rightly, the plight if a biscuit manufacturer in Wigan didn’t dominate the news when it announced massive losses. Rivington Biscuits reported hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of losses on a monthly basis.
As the cost of their basic ingredients rose, they were unable to charge the supermarkets more, and who lost out? We did. The Great British Pink Panther Wafer Eating Public. The one hundred or so employees also lost out. And Wigan as a whole, as Rivington Biscuits was a major employer. Yet - and here’s the part even inept Inspector Clouseau would find ironic - almost 65 per cent of Wigan voted Leave.
Rivington Biscuits has fallen to the administrators. Perhaps somebody will buy them, and the future of my beloved Pink Panther wafers will no longer be in jeopardy. Meantime, it’s the same administration company as BHS, so somewhere in Wigan, there’s a gang of them rifling through racks of cheap, shiny suits and eating pink wafers, while I sit here and question the other “facts” I fear my mother invented.
Do you think she really has a sister called Vaseline who lives in space?
No, nor do I. I’m also not sure about the snake farm or the Olympic gold, and I’m definitely not the lovechild of Joseph Stalin and Whoopi Goldberg.