Saturday, 5 December 2020

A Christmas Parody: When A Scare Is Born

 Time for a topical seasonal parody, regressing 44 years to 1976. This was not a vintage year for Christmas singles. Jethro Tull made a futile pitch for rural credibility with “Ring Out Solstice Bells”, and the least said about the irritating novelty song “Bionic Santa”, the better. This left Johnny Mathis with a clear run for No 1, never realising that one of his biggest fans would turn out to be Gerald the Gorilla from Not The Nine O’Clock News. As the Professor complained, “You’re not kidding, are you. ‘When A Child Is Born’ blaring out at all hours when I’m downstairs trying to do some work…” The song did, of course, seek to convey a message of hope. Here in 2020, as Christmas struggles to make its way past weeks and months of overreaction and exaggeration, a message of despair is a more symbolic choice: -


A length of rope dangles from the sky

A mighty scar blights from way up high

All across the land, freedoms are withdrawn

This comes to pass when a scare is born


A silent threat sails the seven seas

Foul winds of change, fuelled by the Chinese

Made our ruling class crumble, tossed and torn

This comes to pass when a scare is born


A gloomy view settles all around

They can’t reveal they’re on shaky ground

In a spell or two, all are made forlorn

This comes to pass when a scare is born


To save their face, they imposed lockdown

With their fake tiers, built the new ghost town

They’re all comfortable, we’re all overdrawn

This comes to pass when a scare is born


And all of this happens because the world is cowering

Cowering from one virus

Bats, labs, whatever, no one knows

But a virus that was hyped up to turn livelihood to ruin, 

Hope to fear, pleasure to pain and quality of life to mere existence

And misery and suffering will be words to be inflicted, forever


It’s a bad dream, deep confusion now

Can we come through, sometime soon somehow

All across the land, dawns a time to mourn

This comes to pass when a scare is born


(The original, of course, only had three verses before the spoken bridge. I could not resist hammering the underlying message home by adding the fourth.)

Friday, 27 November 2020

If Chris Whitty may be likened unto Rasputin...


As ministers continue to dance to the tune of charlatans – excuse me, expert scientists – in their inexplicable war on the economy and quality of life, we could be forgiven for thinking that the latter’s influence over the former echoes that of a notorious mad monk over the imperial Russian court just over a hundred years ago. If we may liken the ascetic yet sanctimonious Professor Chris Whitty to Rasputin – and I think we may – there is at least some wry humour (and wishful thinking) to be gleaned from revisiting a cheesy 70s disco classic. The accompanying Boney M video is so bad it's brilliant…


There lived a certain man, in Britain here and now

He was pink of face, not much hair above his brow

Most people look at him with hatred and with fear

As he tells the pubs they must pour away their beer

He can preach statistics like a preacher

Full of doom and gloom and fire

Wielding power as Matthew Hancock’s teacher – 

“Drag them through the mire”


Chris, Chris, Chris Whitty

Slammed us under lock and key

There is a prat who really is gone

Chris, Chris, Chris Whitty

Britain’s greatest harm machine

It’s a disgrace how he’s carried on


He rules with Pat Vallance, and never mind the Queen

With their charts and slides, spreading doom that’s quite obscene

In all affairs of state, he never needs to please

He’ll just devastate with an economic squeeze

For the NHS, a propaganda squealer

Though we knew the harm he’d done

Boris still thought that he was a healer

Who’d make Covid run


[Chorus]


But when his blinking and blustering and his hunger for lockdowns

Destroyed quality of life for more and more people

The demands to do something about this outrageous man

Became louder and louder


“This man’s just go to go”, the call from some MPs

But the leaders begged, “Don’t you doubt his wisdom, please”

From lockdown fan Whitty, his doctrine of alarm

“You must find a cure, or you’ll come to too much harm”

Then one night, some men of higher standing

Found a really cunning plan

“You all need a guinea pig for treatment –

We know just the man”


Chris, Chris, Chris Whitty

Slammed us under lock and key

They fired the vaccine into his veins

Chris, Chris, Chris Whitty

Britain’s greatest harm machine

It froze him stiff and shredded his brains

Chris, Chris, Chris Whitty

Slammed us under lock and key

Upon a plate, we wanted his head

Chris, Chris, Chris Whitty

Britain’s greatest harm machine

So Boris sacked him and left him for dead



Oh, those experts

Black Friday - In Seasonal Song

Even the most ardent Americanophile will concede that not all US exports have been welcome. We only need think of school proms, rap music and political correctness. Not forgetting the worst of all, the artificial designation of a November date as a trigger for reckless expenditure, fuelled by retailers’ self serving clarion calls that seem to precede the date for weeks on end. I refer, of course, to Black Friday. It’s today, so we are informed (fancy that, I never suspected). At least it did not exist in 1973, when it might have inspired Brummie legend Roy Wood to write an entirely different festive song: -

When the salesman brings the sale

When he just wants more retail

He’s put a great big hole in your bank account today

If the shops fill you with dread

Adverts pounding through your head

Go home and lock your doors, you know the marketing whores are on their way

 

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

When we buy loads of rubbish, then we throw the lot away

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

It’s when the tills ring out for Christmas

 

When you’re skating on thin ice

At the all too tempting price

And the rosy ads help you on your reckless way -

Now the overdrafts appear

And they’ve frozen you with fear

But you’ll log on and shop and pretend you can wish them all away

 

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

When we spend too much money and regret it the next day

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

It’s when the tills ring out for Christmas

 

When the salesman brings the sale

When he just wants more retail

He’s put a great big hole in your bank account today

So if Amazon bring their sleigh

And you’ve spent your hard earned pay

You’ll kick yourself for the money that you’ve lost, ‘cause there’s sales on Christmas Day

 

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

When we’ve maxed out our credit cards in wanton disarray

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

It’s when the tills ring out for Christmas

 

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

When we know two days later it’s Send It Back Sunday

Well I wish we could abolish Black Friday

It’s when the tills ring out for Christmas

 

Why must those tills ring out for Christmas?


(The accompanying clip throws some light on the song’s creation, illustrated with Top of the Pops footage and some grim shots of 70s Birmingham.)


 


Friday, 18 September 2020

If You're Going To Shop In Tesco: Another Song for Covid-19

We now hear that Van Morrison, a musician perhaps not best known for his sunny disposition or sense of humour, has written a trilogy of songs in which he leaves his antipathy to lockdown and related anti-Covid measures completely beyond doubt. An entirely legitimate view, of course. However, while the embittered and the heartfelt plea types of protest song are long established, they are not necessarily the best medicine in these ludicrous times. Laughter, via parodies, might just have the edge. 

Fifty three years ago, the Summer of Love was memorably reflected in Scott McKenzie’s best selling single “San Francisco”. How might he have commemorated this year’s Summer of Fear? Maybe like this…


If you’re going to shop in Tesco

Be sure to wear a cover on your face

If you’re lacking a mask in Tesco

Wagging fingers will signal deep disgrace


For those who come to their local Tesco

Summertime will be an ordeal there

In the aisles of downtown Tesco

Frightened people who cower in despair


All across the nation

Chronic aggravation

Deep in commotion

Resigned capitulation

To asphyxiation

Shuffling motion

Devoid of emotion


Be it Sainsburys or be it Tesco

Petty rules will make you tear your hair

Asda, Waitrose, and Lidl and Tesco

Quality of life just can’t be purchased there


Will we ever return to our local Tesco

Muzzle free, and feeling happiness

Or will we abandon the likes of Tesco

Buy it all online, and save ourselves the stress


All across the nation

Resentment and frustration

Deep in commotion

No common sense explanation

For this abomination

Shuffling motion

Devoid of emotion...


Thursday, 17 September 2020

They Swallowed The Lie: Another Song for Covid-19

 

If we were to cast our minds back 50 years or more, we might recall a joke song of a slightly scary nature – as it seemed at the time to the average infant – about the curious gastronomic pursuits of an old lady, whose inevitable consequential demise was confirmed in spoken word form right at the end. Stand up and take a bow, Burl Ives - video link below.

On the subject of demise, a fate that awaits us all some day, one of Lord Sumption’s observations on the government reaction to Covid is that we have been made to feel an irrational horror of death. Could it be that a lethal combination of charlatan experts and arse covering politicians, neither having properly considered whether lockdown might cause greater misfortunes of a different nature, has induced us to swallow a lie?

Back to that scary song. Pick up the guitar, strum an opening C chord, and reappraise the lyrics: -   


I know a whole nation who swallowed a lie

We all know why they swallowed the lie

They feared they’d die

 

I know a whole nation who furloughed the labour

And left a huge bill for the taxpaying neighbour

They furloughed the labour to back up the lie                             

We all know why they swallowed the lie                                     

They feared they’d die                                                  

 

I know a whole nation who shut all the works

What absolute berks to shut all the works

 

They shut all the works ‘cause they’d furloughed the labour

And left a huge bill for the taxpaying neighbour

They furloughed the labour to back up the lie

We all know why they swallowed the lie

They feared they’d die

 

I know a whole nation shut hospital wards

How could they afford to shut hospital wards

 

They shut all the wards to save the works (etc)

 

I know a whole nation who shut all the schools

Such impetuous fools to shut all the schools

 

They shut all the schools to save the wards (etc)

 

I know a whole nation who shut all the pubs

A gratuitous snub when they shut all the pubs

 

They shut all the pubs to save the schools (etc)

 

I know a whole nation with mandatory muzzles

A curious puzzle, inflicting the muzzles

 

They inflicted the muzzles to save the pubs

They shut all the pubs to save the schools

They shut all the schools to save the wards

They shut all the wards to save the works

They shut all the works ‘cause they’d furloughed the labour

And left a huge bill for the taxpaying neighbour

They furloughed the labour to back up the lie

We all know why they swallowed the lie

They feared they’d die

 

I know a whole nation who took a big knife

To their quality of life



Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Stout Life Revisited, 40 Years On


It is often the case that yesterday’s satire becomes today’s reality. One shining and somewhat topical example, all about pressure groups and oppressed minorities, can be found in the classic “Stout Life” sketch from the genius team who brought us Not The Nine O’Clock News. The chat show host Janny Shtrait-Pawuh [Pamela Stephenson] is hosting a studio discussion panel comprising Stout Community representative George Fletcher [Mel Smith] and the Reverend John “Tubbs” Whiston [Griff Rhys-Jones], a Stout Christian.

The debate before the studio audience is proceeding in civilised fashion, George having advised an audience member with “a friend who thinks he might be stout” to squeeze out of the closet and declare his stoutness. Suddenly, a man in an oversize suit [Rowan Atkinson] stands up and loudly interrupts.

“This is all crap! We’ve been sitting here listening to all this utter rubbish…”

(Muttered aside: “Oh no, it’s Ron Miller.” Ranting continues…)

George: “Introduce yourself, Ron, this is Ron Miller of the extremist group FLAB, Fat Louts Against Bikinis.”

Ron: “Shut up. Listen. Look at this Slimming magazine. Slimming magazine! This isn’t a million miles from what Adolf Hitler was trying to do. We demand a fat Prime Minister, more obesity in the media, the banning of the word ‘ample’. We want the force feeding of skinnies!"

George: “Ron, you’re doing the movement more harm than good.  Now sit down!”

Ron: “Where was the Reverend Whiston at Notting Hill Gate in ’79 during the worst FLAB riots this country has ever seen?” (Vicar mutters in embarrassment.) “Organising plump discos, I expect.”

George: “Ron, I’m sorry, I’m sorry to be personal, but I mean, you’re talking about stoutism, but you’re not stout, you’re not even overweight…"

Ron, indignantly: “Oh…”

George: “…in fact you’re skinny!”

Ron: “So you have to be fat to be stout, now, do you?”

(George and John confer, before concerted retaliation…)

“Thin poof!”

Ron: “I don’t have to take that from you, you great wobblebottom!”

(Shouting match breaks out all round…)

It would perhaps be circumspect, in the present environment, to refrain from further comment and let this sketch speak for itself.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

A Song For Covid-19: Don't Lock Me Down


With the UK’s coronavirus cure beginning to look worse than the disease, and quality of life deteriorating as rapidly as the economy, the grounds for opposing a further extension of lockdown are, at the very least, fair and reasonable, and they need not involve citation of the recently reported rank hypocrisy of epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson. There are, of course, two sides to the story and valid arguments to be made in opposition to the current regime being relaxed.

The opponents of the extension may feel that they are starting at a disadvantage. After all, the government’s “Stay At Home” mantra has a certain element of force, even if it has a touch of “four legs good, two legs bad” about it when closely examined. Perhaps they need to counter it with a campaign song? I offer a parody of ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” developed for solo acoustic guitar over the last few days. The original, from their 1979 “Discovery” album, made it to number 3 in the UK charts 41 years ago, and did not feature a string section, a rarity for ELO: -


You’ve stopped me working and I’m out of my mind
You got me drinking loads and wasting my time
Don't lock me down, no no no no no
Can’t stand it no more, stuck here behind this front door
Don't lock me down

Don’t wanna stay here texting anxious friends
They’re telling me we’ll never see the end
Don't lock me down, no no no no no
It’s really a bore, we’re not all aged eighty four
Don't lock me down

Don't lock me down, it’s abuse*
Don't lock me down, there’s no excuse
Don't lock me down, cut me loose
Don't lock me down

What happened to the life we used to know?
We lost our pleasures somewhere down the road
Don't lock me down, no no no no no
Our savings no more, our pensions straight through the floor
Don't lock me down

The Chinese virus caused this crazy blight
One of these days they’d better make this right
Don't lock me down, no no no no no
They’re asking for war, we need to settle the score
Don't lock me down

[Chorus]

Can’t take a walk and have a break on the grass
‘Cause some policeman’s gonna kick your ass
Don't lock me down, no no no no no no no no no
Common sense is no more, they claim we’re breaking the law
Don't lock me down

You’ve got me ranting, got me wasting away
You’ve got me crawling up the walls every day
Don't lock me down, no no no no no
We’ll tell them once more, and then we’ll break down the door
Don't lock me down

We’ll tell them once more, and then we’ll break down the door
Don't lock me down


* ELO fans and other music aficionados (geeks?) may recall that the original lyrics simply had the filler word “groos” at the end of each chorus line. It may or may not have been intended as the German greeting “Gruss”, and in early live performances Jeff Lynne substituted it with “Bruce”.