Somebody I’ve never met has died, And you’ve never met him either – Yet we’re required to shut up and abide, And know our place. We’re in for a long and boring ride, And woe betide the unbeliever – From Kensington to the banks of the Clyde, The nation shuts its face.
Clear the TV schedules, quick, They need to fawn over a nobody – All these tributes, creepy and slick, For fear of facing anarchy ! So after years of giving him stick They’re truth-to-power turns limp and shoddy – But then, these days they’re all in thick, And even the Guardian bends the knee.
The media barons and ermine peers Will lead the mourning, doffed and bowed, And pray for another fifty years In their suffocating drone. As they wring out the mandatory tears And tug their forelocks proud, The Establishment betrays its fears As it buries one of its own.
First, stick with a calendar That clearly isn’t fit for purpose – Stick with it because, old son, That’s just the way we’ve always done. Tradition is a glut of yesterdays, Where silence runs a surplus – Until the change has grown too great (Yet still two hundred years too late). Then hack eleven days off all at once – A week-and-a-half, just done away – And then a twelfth is added, see, For the non-leaping century. (But next time round – it isn’t, Cos it isn’t, cos that’s what they say.) And that is why our pounds and pence Outweigh our bloody common sense !
Once I was a student, And a dreamy kid who wanted to know more. I went to find out what it meant, To study art and life and metaphor. And though I had a cocky gob, I’m not sure I was quite the nation’s cream. It didn’t lead me to a job – But oh, it surely taught me how to dream.
I was pretty broke back then, But I received a grant to help me through – And when I passed, and stowed my pen, I looked upon the world as somewhere new. I found some work, I found some mates, And neither needed much of what I’d learned – But still it opened up the gates, And gave me confidence that I had earned.
So now I gladly pay my taxes, Pay my way, and never ride for free – So when I hear of fiscal axes, Spare a thought for who we used to be – For loans and debt will only scare The very ones you think superfluous – So tax me more ! It’s only fair, To help out all the dreamy kids like us.
With their gilt letterheads And their bunting-clad dreams, Where the serfs are so happy Beneath their regimes – But history swept them From palace and pomp, When young turks and comrades Have drained the old swamp.
With a God save the king From the Mayan to Ming – So soon shall the peasants Once more kiss our ring.
Yet now they must sit out And mingle with riffraff In Kensington squalor And only three staff. They’re blind to the passage Of fortune and time, Like grand dukes and dames In a lost pantomime.
With a title and crest And a well-feathered nest And a son and successor Exquisitely dressed.
Their ancestors ruled With the richest of tastes, Those kings lived like kings – But they now must be chaste. Where once their great splendour Was cheered by the proles, Now their Swiss bank accounts Are all filling with holes.
With a hip hip hurray To the misty-eyed day When the jumped-up and bourgeois Are all swept away.
These make-believe monarchs In exile, alone, With their cronies uncrowned And their thrones overthrown – They long to return To their castles and knights Where the realms was unsullied By voters and rights.
With a curtsey and bow And a greater-than-thou, Oh, we’ll soon send these yokels Right back to the plough.
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.
Say you want a revolution ? You wanna be a street-fighting man, Raging hard against the masterplan ? But violence is no solution – However much the Man is to blame, You’ll never beat him by killing in the name.
We won’t be televised As we meet the new boss, city on fire, Between the barracades, over the wire. You wanna be mobilized By standing in the way of control As the Eton Rifles take their bloody toll ?
You wanna fight the power ? Then let the records turn turn turn – With ice-pick vocals to make ears burn. Cometh the finest hour, Then lock up the guns & ammo – it’s clear That we’ve gotta sing our way through here.
Fernando, can you hear the drums, Rocking the free world, rocking the casbah – Let’s sing for a year that we’re dreaming after, Until the reckoning comes – And the lost cause chord at last gives birth. To give peace a chance, for what it’s worth.
Cleopatra dropped a pearl in vinegar To win a bet, And watched her bead dissolve away to nothing Without one regret – Although in truth it must have fizzed a day or two Before it’s done And in that time she’d lost her land and lost her life And lost her son. And Rome, while once her lover, saw her lustre tarnish Bit by bit – For strip away her cultured beauty, And she’s just a speck of grit.
Think right, say right, Keep it careful, keep it kind – Keep a clean and healthy mind That wants no truck with spite. And yet, that inner voice Who always loves its little games, Who always knows the nasty names, Will whisper up its choice. It knows they’re wrong, and that’s the point, It’s daring us to shout them out Because they’re wrong and still have clout Because they’re out-of-joint. It’s bating us to say the word – It wants to make us take the blame For ev’ry hurtful hateful name We’ve ever heard. But these are not our whole – These shall not define or break us, Just stray thoughts and troublemakers – We are in control. It only loathes itself, infact, But we can still refuse to sink – Let’s judge us not in what we think, But how we act.