What is your fear boy?
What is your fear girl?
I overheard it in the ice-cream parlour
I overheard it in the ice-cream palaver
Ponto, Ponto

What is your fear boy?
What is your fear girl?

If you’re not ashamed of your love
Why not shout it out over the rooftops
And bring the town together?

Ponto, the drift is inexplicable
Your only fear is a letter box
And that is what he dreads
Even in dreams

What is your fear boy?
What is your fear girl?

Are you frightened by the weather?
Or just scared to get wet?
You are black warrior at a quiz show
And I'm an internet user
You must give over

What is your fear boy?
What is your fear girl?
What is your fear boy?
What is your fear girl?
What is your fear boy?
What is your fear girl?


1. This seems to come from the sessions for Imperial Wax Solvent, and a version with the lyrics above was released on the expanded version of that album in 2020. 

The music somewhat resembles a simplified version of "Tommy Shooter," CMN points out.



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Comments (7)

  • 1. bzfgt (link) | 10/04/2021
The Track record mentions a version with Like to Blow lyrics but the old bootleg I have is the same as this

Paul G
  • 2. Paul G | 20/06/2021
There is a passing reference to a Ponto in Money in the Bank by PG Wodehouse, first published in 1942.

In chapter 14 some of the characters are discussing a break-in to a country house. Just to the side of a window where access is to be gained there is a tombstone marked "To Ponto, Ever A Faithful Friend".

There's a love theme in the story too but I don't see enough in the rest of the book to file under anything other than coincidence at the time being.
  • 3. bzfgt (link) | 02/07/2021
RIght...it means "point" or "score" in Portugese. And it looks like there's Ponto surgery, for hearing loss....but you're probably warmer than me, it is probably a name here....as you say, hard to finger Wodehouse, but worth keeping an eye on
  • 4. dannyno | 04/05/2022
I found this:

"Ponto Warrior, Africa, from the Savage and Semi-Barbarous Chiefs and Rulers series (N189) issued by Wm. S. Kimball & Co.

Ponto Warrior trading card

Trade cards from the "Savage and Semi-Barbarous Chiefs and Rulers" series (N189), issued in an unnumbered set of 50 cards in 1888 by Wm. S. Kimball & Co.

Source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/714167
david rathbone
  • 5. david rathbone | 25/10/2023
Ponto's grave in Wodehouse's Money In The Bank (1942) refers back to when Ponto was still alive in chapter one of his early novel Not George Washington (1907). But I don't think MES is referring to Wodehouse; but that both MES and PGW are referring to Ponto, the dog in Dicken's Pickwick Papers chapter two -- a yarn about a dog who reads a "No Dogs" sign and won't pass it, sybolizing internalized but ill-understood fear: i.e. "What are you afraid of?" I reckon MES had read Pickwick Papers, but the evidence is only cumstantial: 1. the genius use of language fits well; 2. there is a Liverpool club where the early Fall played called Pickwicks; 3. the title of this song. Here's the bit:

‘I am ruminating,’ said Mr. Pickwick, ‘on the strange mutability of human affairs.’
‘Ah! I see—in at the palace door one day, out at the window the next. Philosopher, Sir?’
‘An observer of human nature, Sir,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘Ah, so am I. Most people are when they’ve little to do and less to get. Poet, Sir?’
‘My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a strong poetic turn,’ said Mr. Pickwick.
‘So have I,’ said the stranger. ‘Epic poem—ten thousand lines—revolution of July—composed it on the spot—Mars by day, Apollo by night—bang the field-piece, twang the lyre.’
‘You were present at that glorious scene, sir?’ said Mr. Snodgrass.
‘Present! think I was;* fired a musket—fired with an idea—rushed into wine shop—wrote it down—back again—whiz, bang—another idea—wine shop again—pen and ink—back again—cut and slash—noble time, Sir. Sportsman, sir?’ abruptly turning to Mr. Winkle.
‘A little, Sir,’ replied that gentleman.
‘Fine pursuit, sir—fine pursuit.—Dogs, Sir?’
‘Not just now,’ said Mr. Winkle.
‘Ah! you should keep dogs—fine animals—sagacious creatures—dog of my own once—pointer—surprising instinct—out shooting one day—entering inclosure—whistled—dog stopped—whistled again—Ponto—no go; stock still—called him—Ponto, Ponto—wouldn’t move—dog transfixed—staring at a board—looked up, saw an inscription—“Gamekeeper has orders to shoot all dogs found in this inclosure”—wouldn’t pass it—wonderful dog—valuable dog that—very.’
‘Singular circumstance that,’ said Mr. Pickwick. ‘Will you allow me to make a note of it?’

* A remarkable instance of the prophetic force of Mr. Jingle’s imagination; this dialogue occurring in the year 1827, and the Revolution in 1830
david rathbone
  • 6. david rathbone | 25/10/2023
Ponto reads the
david rathbone
  • 7. david rathbone (link) | 25/10/2023
Could it be that "Ponto, Warrior, Africa" and "Ponto, sign-reading dog" are both about fears that people have, that they don't really understand? In his early engagement with the Rock Against Racism movement, MES was frustrated that "activists" didn't want to think about the lyrics in a songs like "Race Hatred" and "Hey Fascist," but they just wanted to hold up banners with anti-racist slogans on stage between the songs, and just "use" popular music to lure poeple into the political cause, rather than to understand that the music itself should carry the revolutionary message. The notorious line at the start of "The Classical" is thus a provocation, calling out the insidious nature of tokenism, able to put a mask of mere correctness over a more deeply entrenched racism, in order to actually prevent any concrete confrontation with the question of what it is that the racist in you is really afraid of. And how is it connected to the question of who you find attractive? And why you might be afraid of love? Of dangerous situations and emotions for an other we can't comprehend and yet feel strongly about?

The Fall played Mr Pickwick's in Liverpool twice:Tuesday, 22 August 1978; and Wednesday, 21 May 1980. 
At the second show, they were supported by Passage,* Tony Friel's band with Dick Witts and Lorraine Hilton, which just goes to show that the split with Tony Friel can't have been all that acrimonious. Not only did Passage open for The Fall on 21st May 1980, TonyF had also lent Marc Riley his bass to take to London at a moment's notice on 30th May '78 for The Fall's first Peel Session, after Eric McCann pulled out at the last minute, (* btw Dick Witts added the "The" to the name "Passage" after Tony Friel left to form "Contact," with Duncan Prestbury. But on the first two singles with TonyF, the band is just called "Passage").

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