British People in Hot Weather

Lyrics

(1)      

Fill green envelopes and send them to ya (2)
On train ride, read Marx tracts
Play walkmans loud behind ya
Demonstrate on Oxford Street
About what the Hell they couldn't tell ya
British people in hot weather
Have a heart-to-heart with your sister
People in shorts drunk before ya
Beached whale in Wapping (3)
His armpit hairs are sprouting
Serpentine ah.... Serpentine grrr...
British people in hot weather

Press hot houses waste tree statements (4)
Compare your pearls before the King of Monks (5)
I'm telling ya, oh
Do they know they can get cancer?
Designer tramp goes grrr...
Looking jolly from Stoke (6)
As he walks through and makes up
Titles like this, to order
They're well off their trolley
Smoking like a chimney
Bespectacled stare-out
British people in hot weather

I was a candidate for club 18-30 (7)
but I've been through all that shit before
British people in hot weather
That's it, I'm looking straight for the car
If that's how you feel, let's go
British people in hot weather

Notes

1. The obvious reference for this song is Noel Coward's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," a song mocking the British habit of eschewing a siesta in all the hotter colonies, where the natives are bemused by this behavior. The Fall would later entitle a track "Mad.Men-Eng.Dog." Coincidence? Hardly.  

^

^^2.  During World War I, British soldiers were issued a certain number of green envelopes; a letter sent in such an envelope would not be censored by the commanding officer on site (although still would be censored at the Base), and the soldier to whom they were issued had to agree to talk about nothing but private matters.  

^

3. Wapping is a riverside district in East London, and there's also a Wapping Dock in Liverpool. The "beached whale" would be a (overweight and perhaps drunken) sunbather.  

^

4. The idea may be that the press wastes trees by issuing so many statements...

^

5. This one has me puzzled. In the Prose Edda of Snorri Snurluson we find:

The King of Monks is greatest
Of might, for God all governs;
Christ's power wrought this earth all,
And raised the Hall of Rome.


And the Irish missionary St. Colombanus (543-615) has been called "King of Monks." Also there is a "King of Monkeys" in the Disney adaptation of Kipling's Jungle Book (but not in the original). Still, I can see no connection between any of these and the lyric. This could be one of the "titles" the lyric below says the British people in question "make up"; indeed, it's the only title in the verse. According to DJ Ash on the Fall online forum, "I heard it as "The King of Mons", which would fit with the WW1 reference in the same verse". The Battle of Mons was the first major battle the British participated in World War I, at Mons in Belgium. There is no "King of Mons," however, nor do I know the significance of the pearls. Finally, there are others who are convinced that he says "King of Mongs," an unfortunate slur that is short for "mongoloids." 

^

6. Stoke is an extremely common place name in Britain, and thus could be any number of things. According to Martin, though, most people would think of Stoke-on-Trent when they hear this, in the English Midlands.

^

7. Club 18-30 is a British travel club that caters to young people (hence the name), a third of whom, reportedly, are traveling without their parents for the first time. They only take a certain amount of travelers per year (hence "candidate").  

^

Comments (10)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 14/10/2013

This is missing some lines.

Before the "fill green envelopes" lines, there is "British people in hot weather" x4. Same again x4 after the serpentine line and x4 after "bespectacled stare-out". x2 after "shit before" and x2 after "let's go".

dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 29/10/2013

"Wapping" might also refer to a location in Liverpool: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wapping_Dock

Martin
  • 3. Martin | 23/01/2014

Stoke is indeed a common place name, but I'd surmise that most people on hearing the name would think of Stoke-on-Trent, a city in the English Midlands.

K. A. Laity
  • 4. K. A. Laity (link) | 02/03/2014

I can't help thinking -- given the reference to the Serpentine -- that maybe the 'King of Mongs' is referring to the statue of Ghengis Kahn in Hyde Park. See here: http://www.aviewoncities.com/london/hydepark.htm

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 05/04/2014

If this song is set in London, then the line "Compare your pearls before the King of Monks", could be a reference to Pearly Kings - who would be "king of Mongs" rather than Monks, really.

dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 07/03/2016

K. A. Laity:

Unfortunately it is not possible for a song dating to 1990 to refer to a statue of Genghis Khan which wasn't unveiled until 2012, i.e. about 22 years later.

Dan

bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 12/03/2016

OK, struck then, Mr. Factypants.

bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 12/03/2016

It actually sounded like "mongs" to me this time through, unfortunate if so.

dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 27/04/2017

The last verse:


I was a candidate for club 18-30 (7)
but I've been through all that shit before

That's it, I'm looking straight for the car
If that's how you feel, let's go



Sounds to me very much like MES eavesdropping and overhearing those two lines. Do you not think?

bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017

Yeah, that seems right.

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