Archive for May, 2006


Sometimes songs work their way into your mind’s ear and it’s hard to figure out why you first started singing them. The last couple of days I’ve been singing the lyrics of Jacky, as sung by Scott Walker, although I first heard the song via Marc Almond.

The song was written by Jacques Brel, and you can find the French lyrics here. A key difference between the lyrics in French and those in English is that in the French version, one assumes that the singer – Jacques Brel – isn’t imagining that he was called Jacky, (because that is his name, more or less) whereas in the Scott Walker (real name Scott Engel) version, the singer assumes the voice of a person called Jacky, so the relationship between the singer and the listener is altered. Still, one key aspect of the song remains: fantasising about being in different places, under different names and personae, but remaining true to one’s origins, through the repetition of a song.

Anyway, here are the English lyrics:

And if one day I should become
A singer with a Spanish bum
Who sings for women of great virtue
I’d sing to them with a guitar
I borrowed from a coffee bar
Well, what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you
My name would be Antonio
And all my bridges I would burn
And when I gave them some they’d know
I’d expect something in return
I’d have to get drunk every night
And talk about virility
With some old grandmother
That might be decked out like a christmas tree
And though pink elephants I’d see
Though I’d be drunk as I could be
Still I would sing my song to me
About the time they called me “Jacky”

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Cute in a stupid ass way

And if I joined the social whirl
Became procurer of young girls
Then i would have my own bordellos
My record would be number one
And I’d sell records by the ton
All sung by many other fellows
My name would then be handsome Jack
And I’d sell boats of opium
Whisky that came from Twickenham
Authentic queers
And phony virgins
If I had banks on every finger
A finger in every country
And every country ruled by me
I’d still know where I’d want to be
Locked up inside my opium den
Surrounded by some china men
I’d sing the song that I sang then
About the time they called me “Jacky”

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Cute in a stupid ass way

Now, tell me, wouldn’t it be nice
That if one day in paradise
I’d sing for all the ladies up there
And they would sing along with me
And we be so happy there to be
Cos’ down below is really nowhere
My name would then be Junipher
Then I would know where I was going
And then I would become all knowing
My beard so very long and flowing
If I became deaf, dumb and blind
(was: If I could play deaf, dumb and blind)
Because I pitied all mankind
And broke my heart to make things right
I know that every single night
When my angelic work was through
The angels and the Devil too
Would sing my childhood song to me
About the time they called me “Jacky”

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Cute in a stupid ass way

Honkin’ Down The Highway

I’m sure everyone has received one of those jaw-shatteringly boring e-mails about what our generation did when we were kids, and how today the kids are fat and useless etc blah blah. Well, this evening I spied a young girl about ten years old do something that I did when I were a young ‘un, but had long since forgotten about.

I was driving past a few kids assembled at the bus stop, and one of them started making a gesture with her arm to indicate she was blowing an imaginary lorry horn. Normally the driver who is greeted by this gesture is required to reciprocate with a doot of the horn, but I was rather dozy, and didn’t realise what she was up to until I was nearly past the bus stop, by which point she had already flipped me the middle finger.

Still, I thought that it was pretty cool to see that some traditions endure. This one must be thirty years old at least.


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Learn To Speak Foreign Foulmouth

Those of you aspiring to be potty-mouthed in another language could do worse than check out the BBC’s audio guide to swearing in Spanish. It is the communion wafer.

Hay Zeus

I wrote 11 months ago that hay fever was giving me grief. As yet, I haven’t been affected at all this year, even though I’ve been out mowing grass and gamboling generally amid the flowers and tree blossoms. Yesterday I wondered if I had been mysteriously cured, perhaps through some unwitting contact with a Padre Pio glove, or a rabbit’s foot. I may have been lulled into a false sense of security, however. The Guardian says that today is when all the itchin and the bitchin’ begins.

Och Aye

This interview with Seamus Heaney was as interesting as an interview with Seamus Heaney can get. I was struck by this bit:

Heaney, who has always felt at home with Scots vernacular takes a
different line. “I always said that when I met MacDiarmid, I had met a great
poet who said ‘Och’. I felt confirmed. You can draw a line from maybe Dundalk
across England, north of which you say ‘Och’, south of which you say ‘Well,
dearie me’. In that monosyllable, there’s a world view, nearly.”

Och, he’s right, you know. Och is one of these words that if you didn’t grow up using it, it can be very hard to use idiomatically (assuming, of course, that you’d actually want to use it). You’ll sound funny doing it. Like when English people try to talk about crack/craic.

Och would you look at the cut of thon crater there with the shoes on back to front. Och, I dunno, I’d say about 25 stone. Och I’ve just gone and cut the top of my finger off. Och I’d say another clean shirt will do him. Och, I’m running out of examples.

Where an ‘Och’ appears, you can be sure that an ‘Aye’ will soon follow.

‘Aye’ is another word whose everyday use only takes place above Heaney’s imaginary line. Sometimes I say ‘aye’ in Dublin, because it is another way of saying ‘yes’, and people smile and repeat it back to me, lustily – ‘Ayyygghhe!’- as if they too had been complicit in some pre-modern act of rapine and barbarism.

North of the line, ‘aye’ is not entirely acceptable. If you respond ‘aye, miss’ to your schoolteacher, you may receive a reprimand. People who say it are aware that there are some situations where it is not entirely appropriate. I remember a friend of mine telling me how his sleep was disrupted one night by grunting of ‘aye!’ in the next room, in what seemed to be a crude homage to Je T’Aime (Moi non plus).

I quite like using it, especially in polite conversation with yes-men. It can serve as a bludgeoning retort to some Enlightenment-inspired flight of fancy. Aye right = it’s all very well for you to say that here in your nicely carpeted Hampstead apartment, but back in the tooth-and-claw rough-and-tumble of The Real World, things are somewhat different.

News Comme Il Faux

I was having a break – a KitKat – and I came across this story about ‘fake news stories’:

Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American
television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration
and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake
news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies’

I guess the bloggers who blather on about the lying mainstream media were right. Luckily, bloggers are incorruptible. Sipping my Coke, which I am told is very good for unblocking drains and stomach upsets, I pondered the possibility of unscrupulous and lazy bloggers relaying fake news stories, corporate propaganda dressed up as scientific surveys, and talking up products for financial gain. I guess this needs a bit more thought and a longer post to do the idea justice. It looks like I’ll be supplementing my mental faculties with some Berocca and Marlboro Lights to get the old creative juices going.

Sing If You’re Losing

I am feeling aimless today. This afternoon I sat through the whole of Sister Act 2. Despite being truly awful there were bits I sort of enjoyed, although I have never been able to warm to that singing style which demands that you should sing 43 different notes when one will do. Whoopi Goldberg had a couple of good lines.

I quite like the message of the film – that if you’ve no future and your school’s closing, you can turn things around by singing and dancing for your rich patrons. If you prove that you have enough talent, they might have a change of heart. This is a very useful message for the real world. The day my own job heads east, I’m going to knock off my own rendition of Aquarius from Hair, and see if that impresses the change managers.

Lazy, but Loving It

I still buy the Sunday Times the odd time. It beats being preached at from the pulpit, because you can have a cup of tea and have the radio on at the same time. Today the Irish edition informs us that Dubliners are top of the lazy league.

The reason they are lazy, from the article, is because they work almost one and a half hours a week less than those living in Munster, Connacht and Ulster. So, according to logic of the headline, if you aren’t working right now, you’re being lazy.

Then you have creep with a car Jeremy Clarkson saying that ‘The simple fact of the matter is that, for the vast majority of the time, the vast majority of the people like and enjoy their jobs.’ Well if he says it, I guess it must be true. Thank the lord I’m in a tiny minority. The world could be so much worse if everyone was in the same position as me.

All Change

Overheard this morning beside the changing rooms of a clothes shop:

Shop assistant: ‘Do you want a bigger size for that?’
Woman: ‘Sorry?’
-‘Do you want me to get you a bigger size for that top?’
‘Oh, no, this is mine. I wore it here’
– ‘………. oh sorry about that! I thought that..’
‘No, don’t worry’
-‘It doesn’t look that bad on-‘
‘No, honestly, don’t worry.’

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May 2006