Some of us are lumpers, And some of us are splitters, Some are bulky-clumpers, And some are little-bitters, Some of us are big-tent stuffers, Broad-brush roughers, Close-enoughers, Filling-up our grab-bags Till there’s no more room inside – And some of us are split-hair-threaders, Sep’rate bedders, Excess shedders, Spilling-out and sorting through To further subdivide. And honestly, we need both kinds of schemes To help us to discover, Masterplan and granular, Millennial and annular – Yet nobody can do them both, it seems, We lean one way or ’tother – Either rounding up or down, With both the only game in town. So some of us are crowders, And some of us are sparsers, Half of us are glommers, And half of us are parsers. I guess we cannot change the plot, Our ways are set, alas – But still, let’s take pride in our lot, And classify with class.
Gentle Francis Willughby, To best of his ability Has written us a thriller – see, The History of Fish ! Illustrated lib’rally, Meticulous and jibber-free – No charlatan or fibber, he, But honest, if not swish. The Royal-dubbed Society Have praised his work most high and free, And published with propriety His dense and hearty dish – Examining their parity And countless similarity, To classify with clarity Each finble, scule and gish. His work will lead inex’rably To Karl Linné’s complexity And Darwin’s sexy theory That the bishops try to squish – Yet mocked in perpetuity, His book an incongruity, For lacking the acuity Of Newton’s masterpiece – His grandiose Principia, That makes the heavens trippier And gravity much nippier, Is straining for release. But things are tight financially, With profits down substantially And Newton sees his chances flee Despite the Fellows’ wish – They cannot foot the bill, you see, The budget’s blown on Willughby – But don’t show Frank hostility, He’s not so queer a fish.
The trouble with a drum machine Is that it hasn’t got an ego, Trouble with a drum machine Is that it always keeps in time: The fourth beat goes where the first three go, As do the crash and click and chime. Ev’ry beat created Is so beautifully weighted And it comes along precisely When a beat’s anticipated. With never a roll and never a fill It just keeps beating, Beat-beat-beating, Beating on and on until At last the plug is pulled, the button pushed, The damn thing overruled and hushed, And finally each tireless brush and stick is still. The trouble with a drum machine From marching boys to jazz to pop, Is knowing when to make a noise, And knowing when to stop.
We’ve all heard of the sealed train That carried the 36 between Zürich and the Glasbahnhof, In April 1917. A couple of ferries and a new suit later, Tornio station, platform 1, To catch the sleeper to Petrograd – And become the prodigal son. Finnish metals all the way, On over the swamps and rugged terrain To the Finland Station and history, Though no-one thought to note the train . One is preserved – it may be the one, But as likely not – we’ll never know. Those locos were all faithful workers, Too busy working to stop and crow.
But in the height of August, Fleeing back the way he came – Working his passage with a shovel, Lenin stoked the movement’s flame. 293 – preserved in glass The only loco we know he rode, Not that we can blame the pistons For their unexpected load. American built, as the century turned, A proud ten-wheeler, H2-Class, A broad-gauge beauty, wood-fired boiler, Black, without that bourgeois brass. Does it matter ? Holy relics ? Lenin was also just a machine That public anger drove to the station In the red-heat of 1917.
Evolution has no use for wheels – Nature walks, it never rolls Beyond a spider or tumbleweed That the random wind controls. For real life lacks our perfect strips Of smooth and tarmacked roads, These alien technologies, These edges linking nodes. Biology’s against it anyway, Unless the wheels are dead – For how can blood and nerves attach To grow the spokes, repair the tread ?
Though germs can grow their flagellates Upon an axle, loosely bound – And they can drive by swimming, Just by spinning tendrils round and round. So give a million years or ten, And life may well adapt To these ribbons of oil and gravel, If they haven’t been buried or snapped. But while terrain is bumpy And a bogged-down caster cannot trot, Then legs will always run the show – The world may turn, but life does not.
Back in the days of cathode rays, Electron guns of RGB Would bring the colour to TV – Except they could get out of phase If unwanted magnetic strays Would tamper with the purity.
And boy, were mine unpure ! With ev’ry colour out of sync, Where skies were green and trees were pink ! They told me there’s no easy cure – “But I’ll get used to it, I’m sure” I tried so hard to think.
I might have made it through, But for the glaring lack of red That ultimately screwed my head – Faces, lips, and roses too – Those cyan people made me blue As if the aliens had bred !
I thought I dug the mood To love all races in my sight – But skin-of-denim just ain’t right ! So I rejected modern dudes For old-time films and attitudes That showed the world in black and white.
Office chairs with starfish bases, Wobbly levers, sofa wheels – They never fit quite right, most cases – Either leaving swinging heels, Or bunched-up knees and hunched-down shoulders, Wimpy pistons full of slack. But still, a useful perch for folders Till the backside needs it back.
Hogwarts is a trade school – Its graduates are magic-wise, but culture-poor. Their basic maths and science tools Are lacking, from their focus on excessive lore. So who will pioneer the medicines ? It won’t be Harry. So who the next Brunels and Edisons ? Don’t look to Harry. And who will score the soundtracks to our lives ? Or teach us how to exercise, And thrust and parry ? Just who will study bees and save the hives ? Or write, exposing greed and lies ? Or help us marry ? Your world of Latin, nods, and shadows, Operates clandestinely – But will it save the climate ? Who knows ? We’ve no time to tarry. So who will help us muggles take control Of our own destiny ? And who will feed the intellectual soul That we all carry ? And who will tell me I can be Whatever I might wish to be ? No Sorting Hat’s the boss of me ! Hey, Harry ?
I find it bizarre that a self-confessed lefty wrote about a super-powered elite secretly running the world because the plebby muggles were incapable of doing it for themselves. And poor Harry, having to suffer growing up with those working class oiks until he was restored to his true destiny as the golden child.