Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 1969, the Bed Peace

During their honeymoon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono started a seven day 'bed-in' at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel (conducting it until March 31)

By the very weirdness and audacity of the stunt, the canny artists drew more coverage in the media for the anti-war cause than had hitherto been achieved by any single event. They repeated the event in Montreal, Canada, beginning on May 26 (qv).
View also 'The Ballad of John and Yoko'; read the lyrics

Bedbug? Calling all Dutch readers
One night in 1979, in a group house at Mooball, near Burringbar in northern New South Wales, Dick Diamonde of the Australian '60s band, The Easybeats, told me that it was because of something that he said, that John came up with the name for his Amsterdam bed-in. His story was that John was talking about the different 'peace' stunts he was doing, and also how he would be honeymooning in Amsterdam and was planning the bed-in. Dick Diamonde was Dutch-born, and his story went that he said to John, "You should call it 'Bed Peace' because a word that sounds like that means 'bedbug' in the Dutch language".

I have no way of verifying this fascinating anecdote, but no special reason to disbelieve it, either. The Easybeats were also topping the charts worldwide in the sixties with great rock songs like 'Friday on My Mind', and to presume that Diamonde was on intimate terms with John Lennon would be unremarkable. Unfortunately, however, the translation for 'bedbug' into Dutch, according to this online translation dictionary, is 'wandluis'. Was Dicky being tricky, and pulling my leg, or perhaps there is another explanation you can help me with. I suppose a Dutch slang term for that little sucker, the 'bedbug', might be a homophone of 'bed peace'. Or maybe I was just a sucker myself. Maybe it is a regional standard word or slang.
That was a fascinating night for me. Bob Hawke's daughter, Rosslyn Hawke, was there. At the time, I thought her behaviour was quite strange. She stared into my eyes from close range. A young man there had a carpet sname - a python, and he asked me to hold a hessian bag for him while he put the snake in. I wasn't too happy about it, as I'm very wary of all snakes, even non-venemous ones, but did it anyway. Dick Diamonde just played the same three chords on his guitar, over and over again, and told me that the other Easybeats, Vanda and Young, had a "psychic war" against him. I've had some strange nights in my life, especially in the 1970s and '80s, but that one just about wins hands down for strangeness.
Dear Pip

Regarding your question on the Dutch meaning of 'bed peace'; in Dutch we have a bug called 'pissebed'; according to my vocabulary this is a wood louse in English. So Dik Diamant (not Dick Diamond, whatever he may think his name is) was not completely wrong, but also not completely right. As you may have guessed the word pissebed in Dutch has a remote connection with bed watering. This might or might not have been among the motives of Mr Diamant for suggesting the name bed peace.


Jan Blom
The Netherlands


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker