Sea Song

Sea Song

There’s water in the scuppers and the sea is cutting rough
The bilge pumps are not working and if that’s not bad enough
There’s salt water in the rum lads, there will be no getting drunk
We’ll all drown stone cold sober when the fucking ship has sunk

The skipper’s drinking brandy, for he has a private store
He says he’ll go down with his ship and what can he do more?
He ordered the abandon ship, we cut the lifeboats free
Not one of them would stay afloat. They sank into the sea

The life jackets are useless. They are soggy wet kapok
We tossed them in the ocean and they went down like a rock
The first mate said to swim for it, we’ve minutes to get clear
Before the old girl founders, and drags us down with her

The bosun said there was no point for where then would we go?
Unless there is an island near and that, he did not know
So even if we swam and swam, and then we swam some more
The bloody sharks would take us all before we reached a shore

I’ll take me chances here said he, and go down quick and clean
Just then a huge wave swamped us. The biggest we had seen
The old ship groaned and foundered, then settled on a reef
The water’s really shallow here, to everyone’s relief.
.

© 2020 ARF

Orpheus in the Undergrowth

There is a bird in the bushes behind my home – I think it may be a currawong- whose cheerful call sounds incredibly similar to the “cancan” riff from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.

Chirp, chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp, chirp
Chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,
Chirp,chirp,chirp, chirp,chirp,.
Chirp,chirp,chirp.
chirp,chirp,
chirp,chirp,
chirp,chirp,
chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,chirp,
chirp chirpchirp
Chirp chirp,chirp chirp chirp
Chirp chirp
Chirp chirp.

It is the early bird that causes the earworm, because I find myself mentally playing that tune as I go about my routine. The rhythm infiltrates almost all of my tasks. I clean my teeth, and realise I am doing it in time to the beat. The same happens when I wash the dishes, shave, or sweep the concrete.

Brush, brush,brush,brush,brush,brush, brush
Brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,
Brush,brush,brush, brush,brush,.
Brush,brush,brush.
brush,brush,
brush,brush,
brush,brush,
brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,brush,
brush brushbrush
Brush brush,brush brush brush
Brush brush
Brush brush.

And now I find that having written ‘brush’ that many times, it looks wrong. And. I’ve forgotten what I was going to write next.

So. To other matters. On my way back from Woolworths this afternoon, I saw one of my lady friends was working at the pool. I called in to say hi and ask how soon the pool would be open again. Next Saturday! Yay!

But it will be restricted, and swimmers must book ahead. The announcement goes out to all members by email tonight. Guess who is the first to book in for 07:00 Saturday morning.

Time to get wet again. Despite Winter’s chill.

Lockdown Diary pt 2

I’ve been visiting the bottle store much more frequently lately, for essential supplies.

So often, in fact, that my farewell comment has become “See you as soon as I sober up”.

A Gordon for me,
A Gordon for me,
If yer nae a Gordon
Yer nae use tae me…

Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor,

Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor, little sidh and big sidh.

A most interesting article
I very much appreciate the comment about the cross. It is in complete accord with my understanding of church attitudes.

I was raised Catholic, and always felt my dear grandmother from County Clare, whom I loved deeply, was subjugated by her faith, not elevated by it.

MacPherson’s Rant

Source: https://www.scotslanguage.com/

A song about an injustice.

Fareweel, ye dungeons dark and strang, fareweel, fareweel tae ye,
MacPherson’s time will no be lang on yonder gallows tree

Chorus

Sae rantinly and sae wantonly, sae dauntinly gaed he
For he played a tune and he danced aroon, below the gallows tree

It was by a woman’s treacherous hand that I was condemned tae dee
Above a ledge at a window she sat and a blanket she threw ower me

There’s some come here tae see me hang, and some come tae buy my fiddle
But before that I would part wi her I’d brak her through the middle

And he took the fiddle intae baith o his hands and he brak it ower a stane
Sayin, nay other hand shall play on thee when I am dead and gane

The reprieve was comin ower the Brig o Banff tae set MacPherson free,
But they pit the clock a quarter afore, and they hanged him frae the tree.

Additional verses

The Laird o Grant, that Hieland saunt, that first laid hands on me,
He pleads the cause o Peter Broon, tae let MacPherson dee

Untie these bands frae aff my hands and gie tae me my sword,
And there’s no a man in all Scotland but I’ll brave him at a word.

The story of the song is largely true.

James MacPherson was an outlaw in the North East of Scotland, one of the travelling people and the leader of a band of robbers. He was said to have been generous to and popular with the poor people, but he was the enemy of Lord Duff, the Laird of Braco.

MacPherson was caught in Keith and hanged at the Cross of Banff on 16 November 1700, 300 years ago. The story tells that no-one would arrest him because he was such a fine swordsman, but as he came into Keith through a narrow street a woman sitting at a window overlooking the street threw down a thick heavy blanket which entangled him so he could not draw his sword. The court jury was packed with the dependants of Lord Duff, the Laird of Grant, who found him guilty, but a friend of MacPherson rode to the higher court in Aberdeen for a pardon. The Laird saw the rider coming with the pardon, so ordered the town clock to be put forward so they could legally hang MacPherson before it arrived.

MacPherson was a fine fiddler, and he composed this tune the night before he was hanged and played it on the scaffold. Then he offered to give his fiddle to anyone who would play the tune at his wake. No-one would, so he smashed the fiddle. Anyone who had accepted it would have shown themselves to be a relative or friend of his and so liable to arrest themselves.

The song is also known as ‘MacPherson’s Farewell’. Robert Burns rewrote the song, but these are the traditional lyrics. The tune is very popular amongst Scottish fiddlers.

The pieces of MacPherson’s fiddle are displayed in the MacPherson Clan House Museum in Newtonmore.

Oh, Crap.

A park representative has just come round door to door to check that everyone has toilet paper. Apparently young thieves have been going round stealing it. The shortage is becoming less amusing and more a matter of wonderment. The codes on the park facility doors have been changed, and they are offering to supply anyone who has been caught short.

Kind. But I have a stock I have not needed to use since I moved here. Don’t tell anyone.

It could make me a target.

They

asked me how I knew

I had COVID flu

Oh, oh oh

I could not reply

I’d run out of three ply

And couldn’t leave the loo

.

They

said you’ll have to find

Something else for your behind

Oh, oh, oh

when your ring’s on fire

i told them that I chose

To use the garden hose

.

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed

To think they could catch me out

But today my paper went away

There are young thieves about

.

Now laughing friends deride

Tears I can not hide

Oh, oh, oh

So I smile and say

When things don’t go as planned

Crap gets on your hand

Crap. Gets. On. Your. Hand!

Toilet Rolls

Where have all the toilet rolls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the toilet rolls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the toilet rolls gone?
Hoarders bought them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

I’ve had a colostomy!” said the angry man at the checkout.

“Then you don’t need to wipe your bum!” said the old woman clutching the last pack of toilet tissue.

There’s still plenty of baby wipes.” said I.

There was a stunned silence. Then everyone abandoned the checkout queue and rushed down the aisle.

People.

Dervish

Listening on Spotify to Dervish, an Irish band from Sligo. Only now I discover them.

The find of the month. They remind me of the Bothy Band from the seventies. Lead singer Cathy Jordan is very much reminiscent of Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill of that awesome group.

Go Raibh Maith Agat, Spotify.

My Irishness has just been intensified after watching Rebellion, about the 1916 Easter Uprising, on Netflix. I don’t agree with terrorist tactics but I can see how they came about.

Desolation Row

Thanks to Mrs Murphy, my high school music teacher, I appreciated the poetry of Bob Dylan from a relatively early age. As much as I did as that of Dylan Thomas, and the works we were fed of the classic writers of sonnets epics and odes.

Not being steeped in American culture a great deal of Dylan’s chaotic and surreal imagery went over my head in the sixties. But I knew the opening lines of Desolation Row referred to something dark.

They’re selling postcards of the hanging…

It was not until the advent of internet and Wikipedia that I learned about the shameful lynching of three alleged rapists in Duluth, Minnesota, not far from the Zimmerman home where Dylan’s father lived as a child at the time. Postcard photographs of the hanging victims were sold.

Dylan’s reference to the Titanic, on which the passengers ask “which side are you on.” seems almost prescient, given the current Situation of the world, and America.

In fact the whole song seems to me an ironic acknowledgement of the surreality and ultimate futility of existence.

I just had to jot these notes to show that I can appreciate poetry even while I take the piss.

Bob Dylan

Desolation Row

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

BOB DYLAN

Derogation Row

I’m collecting all the useless words and then I’ll knock them down

The streets are full of epigrams, there’s discomfort in the town

The constable is pacing slow, he’s trying not to dance

The drunkard knows he can walk a line if he only had a chance

The cheerleaders are goose stepping, they need somewhere to go

They took the evening off to visit Derogation Row

.

The single mother is wondering. There’s something she should know

She forgot her baby in the bank not too long ago

Then she saw the epigrams as they began to bleed

Like pesky pigeons in the park, pecking poisoned seed

She saw the space between her hands where something ought to go

And ran to find her baby back on Derogation Row

.

Now the moon must get a mention and the stars are quoted too

The prognosticators all predict, because that’s what they do

They spout obscure biblical references like scholars did of yore

At the Walrus and a carpenter as they staggered out the door

They’d laboured hard for seven years with nothing much to show

And ended in the gutter down on Derogation Row

.

Shakespeare’s words were rounded up; they all felt so afraid

They were accused of coinage once the charges had been laid

Portia donned her mantle and her mercy was not strained

She argued very strongly that all words should be unchained

A Noun, a Verb, an Adjective would not Decline to go

Where every word is equal, down on Derogation Row

.

Einstein can’t believe that quantum physics is a thing

His Universe is infinite, it’s not shaped like a ring

His sage advice to Schrödinger that he should get a pet

Was just ignored, without a word. He doesn’t have one yet

He thought he’d put one in a box, which only goes to show

Life’s just a thought experiment on Derogation Row

.

The word has gone around the world. And all across the planet

They dance the Time Warp in the nude, and pray to Brad and Janet

The songs are getting sillier, Bob Dylan’s clearly mad

Now I’m quoting Richard O’Brien, there’s little more to add

Nothing beats the madness of the Rocky Horror Show

Not even cultural references on Derogation Row

.

You have to be a gentle soul to like Bob Dylan’s verse

It seems to me that you can see this parody’s no worse

I could go on, and show you all the talent that I’ve got

I could go on. But you’ll be cheered to hear that I will not

So for your sake I’ll finish now. Because I’ve come to know.

When it’s time to end the song of Derogation Row.

© 2020 ARF