Behind the Counter


They're always hitting on me
But I'm getting thin
From waiting on
They just want me to be

Behind the counter

The hen centre (1)
Was always picking on me
There they are tucking in all over shop (2)
Got no time
For dinner or tea

Behind the counter
Every car I see
Is always picking on me
They take a left turn when I cross, guaranteed
They park on the pavement
Some have paid parks on the pavement

I say "Wait sir, wait sir,
You'd better wait sir"

I'm getting thin
From idiots who write rock books
Ex-groups cold would've played this
"For Nose Pin and the Punk Piggies (3)
Didn't quite make it," they say
Get behind the counter
The other side of the counter

Chill it, boy

The other side of the counter


1. "Hen" is a generic English slang term for "woman," much like the (presumably related) term "chick" (and presumably it is equally controversial) (thanks to Robert Brokenmouth).


2. The Peel sessions version has the more straightforward "eating all over the shop."



3. This is an odd way for MES to portray himself being portrayed; his scorn for any band that such a name could fit would surely be at least as heavy as would be that of the rock writers he is complaining about here.  


Comments (8)

  • 1. dannyno | 30/04/2017
From interview with Simon Price, 18 December 1993, p.8:

MES on shopping and consumer choice (the apparent subject of "Behind The Counter").

"I'm a very instinctive shopper. Are you? Where are you from? Wales? Have you heard of Arthur Machen, the writer? He's from down there. No one from Wales has ever heard of him. Stephen King ripped off everything from him. I used to be into horror fiction as a teenager.

"Shopping's different where I live. People are being told about stuff that they don't really need. In Manchester people are so fucking stupid. You get women who see some chocolate or Cosmetics To Go, and they're on the fucking dole, but they think they have to have it, so they buy it, then they never use it! The streets are packed with people in a trance, gazing in shop windows at stuff they can't afford. I just know what I want - I don't care what it costs - and I get it. And if, after going into a few shops, you can't find it, it's time to go 'ome. What I hate is when you go out, you'll stand next to some fucking cunt in a bar, and he'll look at your leather shoes (displays shiny but distinctly unstylish lace-ups and go 'Yuppie!' And he's got fucking trainers on that cost 10 times more than your shoes! He's wearing a baseball hat worth more than my jacket, a Swatch watch worth more than mine, and I'm the yuppie?!"

The lyrical relevance of this is not immediately obvious, but maybe it tells us something about what was in MES's head at the time.

It does seem either that MES is putting himself as an artist in the metaphorical role of shopkeeper, or accusing others of doing this to themselves.
Russell Richardson
  • 2. Russell Richardson | 18/02/2018
The counter not only in a shop but also in a bar or restaurant.
perhaps because of personal experience, I see this song as being a plea for decency to 'those serving us' which makes people into pigs (in shops, too) - looking down on those who bring your drinks or your food, for a sub-minimum wage, while they themselves 'get thin'.
The title and last line could go either way: telling those stuck in service to get out and get on with their lives; or telling the 'cunts' to try a bit of service themselves, see how they like it.

get out of the service industries. They are leading you nowhere. A sympathetic song, I think.
russell richardson
  • 3. russell richardson | 13/04/2018

as in 'Hen Party' which is the female 'ladette' version of a stag night (and yes, they do fly them off to Majorca these days/those days, too, where a group of women might get rather boisterous and pick (or peck) on anyone getting in their way... and be as hellish to the servers as the lad counterparts are/were.
I think the group aspect is important.
  • 4. joincey | 16/10/2019
Now are we sure about "hen centre" ? Could that be "hands " something ? Then a couple of lines later I think I hear something about "dirty hands ... all over" .
  • 5. bzfgt (link) | 09/11/2019
Sure? Rarely, if ever....I'll listen to it...
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 09/11/2019
Checking Peel, it does sound exactly like "hen centre"
  • 7. harleyr | 13/11/2019
Always sounded to me like "hands in till" as in a description of one of the protagonists' fellow shop workers.
  • 8. Dan | 03/10/2021
I always thought it was 'handsome turk'

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