Eat Y'Self Fitter


I'm in the furniture trade
Got a new job today
But stick the cretin
On the number-three lathe

Went down the town
To a HM club  (2)
The sign had a cross
Through a couple well-dressed
They looked at my coat
They looked at my hair
An Easy Rider coot
Grabbed the edge of my coat
Said: 'You're too smart for here' (3)
I said: 'I'll see the manager'

He was the manager
Eat y'self fitter
Up the stairs, mister!
Eat y'self fitter

Analytics have got
My type worked out
Analytics on me
The poison render (4)
I grope about
And when I go out
My mind splits
My eyes doth hurt
The musical chairs
Have been swallowed up
By a cuddly group
Who land and rub off
Hoping that
Whatever it is
Will land and drop off

I met a hero of mine
I shook his hand
Got trapped in the door
Felt a fool, I'll tell ya

Charmed to meet ya
Eat y'self fitter
Up the stairs, mister!
Eat y'self fitter

Became a recluse
And bought a computer
Set it up in the home
Saw the Holy Ghost, I swear
On the screen
Elusive big one
On the screen (5)

Where's the cursor?
Where's the eraser?
Where's the cursor?
Where's the eraser?
H-O-9-O-G-O-H-O (6)

What's a computer?
Eat y'self fitter
What's a computer?
Eat y'self fitter

The Kevin Ayers scene (7)
South of France
Plush velvet
Aback! Aback!
Aback! Aback!
Levis Fridays (8)
Greek holidays
Barratt heritance
Barratt heritance
Barratt heritance  (9)

Don't wanna be a mit-dem! (10)

Pick the fleas, mister!
Eat y'self fitter
Eat y'self fitter?
Eat y'self fitter

Who tells you what
To tape on your vid. chip
How do you know the progs you miss
Are worse than those you single out?
And what'll you do when the rental's up?
And your bottom rack is full of vids
Of programs you will nay look at
The way they act is, oh, sheer delight
Cardboard copyright
Make it right
Panic in Sudan
Panic in Wardour
Panic in Granadaland (11)
Panic all over
By the wretched timesheeters
Of my delight
One starry night
The powers that be will have to meet
And have no choice but to...

Eat each other
Eat y'self fitter
Eat each other?
Eat y'self fitter

(Eat y'self fitter)

Portly and with good grace
The secret straight-back ogre entered
His brain aflame
With all the dreams
It had conjured 
It had conjured
It had conjured
It had conjured 

Don't wanna be a mit-dem 

The centimeter square (12)
Eat y'self fitter
Said it purged fear
Eat y'self fitter



1. From Reformation: "According to Simon Ford in his book Hip Priest (Quartet, 2003) this 'takes its title from the back of a Kellogg's cornflake packet and is filled with crunchy flakes of Smith's heightened observational humour.' "

Various records of a Kellogg's All-Bran slogan "Eat yourself fitter" have been found, but so far none have been located that can be definitively dated as preceding the debut (3/21/1983) of the song. It has been documented--seemingly accurately, but this is not certain--that Kelloggs used the almost-identical slogan "Eat Yourself Fit" as early as 1981. If this is indeed the case, and if it only subsequently became "Fitter," then either the two harmonized by coincidence, or a Fall fan (or someone who was exposed to the Fall and thought they had a better slogan) was involved in the advertising campaign. It seems more likely to me that either it is a coincidence, or "Fitter" has an earlier provenance that we have not as yet identified.


2. Presumably a "heavy metal" club. Reader Georgec submits: "Per 'HM Club,' as is often the case, MES clarifies obscure slang for a foreign audience. At Larry's Hidaway, Toronto, 4/21/83, he sings 'Went down the town/to a Heavy Metal club.' It doesn't scan quite as nicely with the added syllables, but there you have it."

It has also been suggested to me that the letters HM commonly stand for "His/Her Majesty's" in many abbreviations.  


3. For the sake of Americans, it may be necessary to add that this is "smart" in the sense of well-dressed. In a 1998 interview with Vox, MES remembers getting bounced for being too darn smart:

Vox: So did you used to strut your Travolta stuff on the dancefloors of Manchester?

MES: I never really went to any of the disco places in Manchester, I could never afford to. Places like Pips, they'd have four or five floors, a soul floor, a Roxy floor, a Bowie floor, and so on - and you had to have the right haircut. It's getting like that again in Manchester. They won't let you in if your hair's too long, or too short, or even if you're dressed too smart. I've had that recently! 


4. Psychoanalysis is the reference here, presumably some kind of group therapy, as evidenced by the references below to a "cuddly group" and "musical chairs."


5. In the video for "Eat Y'Self Fitter," a lyric sheet is briefly held up which indicates this line is "elusive fig. 1." A contemporary Melody Maker advertisement includes this passage of the lyrics, and the line is recorded as "Elusive Big L." The lyrics are often messed with when they get written down (see the two lyrics books), and it sounds to me, on both Perverted by Language and The Complete Peel Sessions, like "big one," so I have left it that way above. But this alternate rendering should be kept in mind.


6. These obscure lines possibly refer to computer keys. They may have just been floating around, too--in the Blue Lyrics Book, MES includes a piece called "Amsterdam," which reads, in part:

The Amsterdam Office
Bertlan Van Diggaboom;
"We know what we want!"
"G.O.H.O.F. unplot"
"On G.O.H.O."
"Lets service and recall"
"And Plus Power"
"Newline Answer"
"We want.............."|

Zack has discovered that MES read this on his 1983 Greenwich Sound Radio Creatures What You Never Knew About appearance (along with one "Centimeter Square," see note 12).


7. Kevin Ayers is a British musician who founded the psychedelic group Soft Machine in the 60s.


8. Probably a reference to "casual Friday," where business people are allowed to dress down on Fridays. The practice goes back to the 1950s in the US, when employees of Hewlitt Packard were expected to work in the warehouse on Fridays. Casual Friday may have been influenced by "Aloha Friday" in Hawaii, promoted by a group called the Hawaiian Fashion Guild, which encouraged people to wear "aloha shirts" (often called "Hawaiian shirts") to work on Fridays.


9. Barratt Homes is a major property developer in Britain, sometimes criticized for shoddy workmanship. In any case, a contrast between the archaic "heritance" and the new money implications of Barratt is doubtless intended.


10. "Mit dem" means "with the..." in German, with the definite article "dem" in the masculine dative case. At times Smith is possibly saying "victim," and there may also be a pun on "amid them."


11. The Second Sudanese Civil War, which lasted for a horrifying 22 years, was just to begin shortly after this song was recorded, although the Peel session (which already has the "Sudan" line) was in March, and Martin, who was in Sudan at the time, says the line is probably just random and doesn't reflect the situation there in the Spring. Wardour is a street in Soho, London, which was for a time a major center for British filmmaking. The Marquee club, a venue for many famous rock acts, was located on Wardour Street. And, the Jam had a song called "A-Bomb in Wardour Street."

North West England was called "Granadaland" in reference to Granada television, centered in Manchester. Also, around this time (1983) the United States invaded the Carribean island nation of Grenada, ostensibly to liberate American medical students who were being held captive after a coup. The coup took place on October 14th, 1983; the US invasion ensued on the 25th. On the Peel version in March, Granadaland is not mentioned, so it is possible that MES intended the lyric to have a (possibly ironic) resonance with the recent events in Grenada (Perverted By Language was released on the 12th of December, although I'm not certain when the song was actually recorded).  


12. This is may be  a reference to LSD, which is often sold on squares of blotting paper roughly a centimeter on each side (in fact, E3 has just informed me that in the video what looks like a hit of blotter is flashed at this point). The psychedelic element adumbrated by the appearance of Kevin Ayres in an earlier verse here joins the banal account of the harried narrator, suggesting a possible secondary meaning to the title phrase "eat y'self fitter"... the song ends here, however, so whether things get better, or just weirder, is left undetermined.

Zack sniffed this out: MES recited a short poem called "Centimeter Square" on his 1983 Greenwich Sound Radio Creatures What You Never Knew About appearance. And Dan provides a transcript:

"The rouge smeared on the agèd profile of the local THF cologne branch chairman was sore and inched well away from prints. The centimetre oblong lipstick compounded fear. For him I did not care a jot. The centimetre square purges fear!" 





Comments (56)

  • 1. dannyno | 04/04/2013

Worth noting that Kevin Ayers did in fact end up in the south of France. Whether this has anything to do with that bit of the lyrics is another question.

  • 2. dannyno | 04/04/2013

"Wardour" presumably refers to Wardour Street, which was known as the centre of the UK film industry:

"Granadaland" presumably refers to the commercial TV region (North West, ie. Manchester) :

"Sudan" presumably refers to the country Sudan, where there was a lot of bother at the time (not sure about specifics, just lots of bother on lots of fronts).

  • 3. bzfgt | 04/04/2013

Yeah, I guess I'll put a note for all that stuff since "Wardour" isn't commonly known.

According to Wikipedia, Ayers was a recluse in South France in the late 90s, and in fact died there. However, I don't know if he made it there before the song--he very well may have, which would explain the lyric--but I haven't found any documentation of it, and since I'm not a fan of "pre-cog" notes I will remain silent about it until I find something out.

  • 4. dannyno | 26/04/2013

Barratt heritance

Or is it "Barrett heritance", linking Kevin Ayers to Wild Willie Barrett?

  • 5. John | 01/08/2013

I freeze framed the video, which has a lyrics sheet rapidly scrolled by several times, and there are 2 lyrics changes that makes sense, and seem to jive with live versions:
1) it's "elusive fig. 1"
2) it's "are back are back" instead of "aback aback"

MES is notorious for making lyrics that are sound-alikes for sensical words. Also he's notorious for changing lyrics to match what the audience mistakenly hears, so the mit-dem/victim thing has a lot of layers.

  • 6. John | 01/08/2013

Also, in the video, he does the double fingered English flip off when he says "up the stairs mister", so that may be some sort of Mancurian slang of the time.

  • 7. haydn | 05/11/2013

smart as in too clever for the club with a cross on..therefor 'upstairs'i.e further analysis

  • 8. Tim | 19/01/2014

Not being a Brit, I'm not sure when it opened, but might the HM Club be the Hacienda?

  • 9. bzfgt | 22/01/2014

Haydn: the club has a sign with people dressed up and a line through it, so I am fairly certain "too smart for here" means too well dressed. However, there may be a secondary meaning intended as you have it.

Tim: I'm not a Brit myself, and I have no idea...if any Brit thinks it likely, chime in and give reasons...

  • 10. Martin | 25/01/2014

The panic in Sudan, referred to briefly by Dannyo in a previous comment, didn't really start until the end of 1983. The previous civil war ended in 1972. Wiki says:

"The first violations occurred when President Gaafar Nimeiry attempted to take control of oil fields straddling the north-south border. Oil had been discovered in Bentiu in 1978, in southern Kurdufan and Upper Blue Nile in 1979, the Unity oilfields in 1980 and Adar oilfields in 1981, and in Heglig in 1982. Access to the oil fields meant significant economic benefit to whoever controlled them.

Islamic fundamentalists in the north had been discontented with the Addis Ababa Agreement, which gave relative autonomy to the non-Islamic majority Southern Sudan Autonomous Region. The fundamentalists continued to grow in power, and in 1983 President Nimeiry declared all Sudan an Islamic state, terminating the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region."

Now, I declare a semi-interest in this, as I lived in Sudan from 1983 to 1988. Although there were rumblings of war before I arrived, there was certainly no sense of panic in the country, as far as I could see and was reliably informed. Methinks that MES plucked a name out of his head which sounded good to him in the lyrics, nothing more than that.

  • 11. dannyno | 26/01/2014

There wasn't an panic in Wardour either, come to that.

As for Sudan, I went through newspapers looking for articles about Sudan in 1983. There were plenty of things that MES could have picked up on, thoughout the year.

But ultimately, it's not really *about* Sudan, so the details probably don't much matter.

  • 12. dannyno | 26/01/2014

The Hacienda opened in 1982, but there's no reason to think the club in the song is the Hacienda. HM Club would be "heavy metal", which is why if you were smartly dressed you might not be thought to have the right image. And if the video accurately represents the lyrics, then smart is about clothing not intelligence.

Interestingly there's an interview from years later where MES talks of having the same problem - being too smart for a club:

Mark E Smith remembers the 70s [1998]:

"MES: I never really went to any of the disco places in Manchester, I could never afford to. Places like Pips, they'd have four or five floors, a soul floor, a Roxy floor, a Bowie floor, and so on - and you had to have the right haircut. It's getting like that again in Manchester. They won't let you in if your hair's too long, or too short, or even if you're dressed too smart. I've had that recently!"

  • 13. bzfgt | 15/02/2014

Are you kidding me, Martin? Pre-cog!

  • 14. bzfgt | 15/02/2014

The song was recorded for Peel in April; I don't know for sure if it had the Sudan line, but the first live version was March 21. The question would be what was in the world news at the time about Sudan, and whether people had a sense things were about to go bad. Any idea about that? Anyway I put a disclaimer in my note, at least until we find out more (if we do). In any case I would think perception in England about Sudan is more relevant than the actual situation in Sudan at the time.

  • 15. bzfgt | 15/02/2014

Now I see Danny has already addressed that a little....

  • 16. dannyno | 23/04/2014

The drums at the beginning of this song remind me of the drums at the beginning of "Dread Eye" by Augustus Pablo.

  • 17. egg | 17/05/2014

A tiny correction: "Felt a fool, I tell ya" should be "Felt a fool, I'll tell ya".

  • 18. dannyno | 23/06/2014

Note 7: "Kevin Ayres" - typo! It's Kevin Ayers.

  • 19. Connell | 30/06/2014

"Granadaland" refers to the broadcasting range for Granada Television, a network based in Manchester.

From "History of Granada Television" (

"But the ethos of Granada was always rooted in the north west, to the extent that the area became known as ‘Granadaland’."

  • 20. Connell | 30/06/2014

I should have read all of footnote [10]. Whoops.

  • 21. Martin | 11/10/2014

Could the reference to "Levis Fridays" be about the practice of allowing employees to dress more casually on the last workday of the week? The following link (from Levi Strauss) has some information on the phenomenon:

  • 22. Martin | 11/10/2014

On the subject of days of the week, may I quickly point out that there are various references in Fall lyrics to all of them except Thursday? Thanks.

  • 23. bzfgt | 18/10/2014

I really think so, Martin--in fact I thought I already had it in a note. I don't want to go back and renumber and tag them all now, so for now it will suffice that it's been mentioned down here. If I haven't put a note in in one year's time, remind me again...

  • 24. bzfgt | 03/11/2014

OK, I got you, Martin, you don't have to remember on October 18, 2015.

  • 25. Georgec | 06/11/2014

Per "HM Club", as is often the case, MES clarifies obscure slang for a foreign audience. At "Larry's Hidaway", Toronto, 4/21/83, he sings "Went down the town/ to a Heavy Metal club/sign of the cross, etc.". It doesn't scan quite as nicely with the added syllables, but there you have it.

Raging Ostler
  • 26. Raging Ostler | 25/01/2015

"Eat Yourself Fitter" was definitely a Kellogg's slogan in the early 80s, from TV ads for All-Bran. I can still remember laughing when I first heard the title of this song, for that exact reason. And they were still using it in 1985 - it's 25 seconds in here:

There was an earlier ad, with a couple of joggers in it, which ended with "Eat yourself fitter" written on the screen. Couldn't find it on YouTube but it might be there somewhere. That would have dated from 81 or 82, I think, certainly before this song had been written.

  • 27. bzfgt | 31/01/2015

That does sound like "Eat yourself," but it could still be "get yourself," he says it very quickly...

  • 28. Zetetic | 05/12/2015

This is titled "Eat yrself fitter" because at the time MES was known for taking lots of whizz (Amphetamine sulphate / speed) and was pretty skinny as a result, so I imagine it was a phrase he heard put to him a fair bit.

(It seems he chose to "Drink himself Fitter" - which wasn't so successful )

David Sanction
  • 29. David Sanction | 05/01/2016

The 'up the stairs' line would make the most sense in quotation marks and with a comma in it- "up the stairs, mister" (MES wants to see the manager, and this is the bouncer's response).

David Sanction
  • 30. David Sanction | 05/01/2016

The 'up the stairs mister' would make the most sense in quotation marks and with a comma in it- "up the stairs, mister" (MES wants to see the manager, and this is the bouncer's response).

David Sanction
  • 31. David Sanction | 05/01/2016

Sorry for the double post- dunno what happened there!

  • 32. bzfgt | 05/01/2016

David, I agree that's what's going on but in general think erring on the side of less diacritics/punctuation/whatever is preferable vs the alternative...probably not a bad way to chop it up in this case though, I don't know, maybe I'll change it...

  • 33. bzfgt | 05/01/2016

Went with your punctuation but not quotation marks as the lack of the latter don't necessarily imply the narrator is speaking for himself...

  • 34. Rich | 22/02/2016

Verse 1, he's proud of his new job, so he says "Respect the cretin on the number 3 lathe," surely?

  • 35. bzfgt | 19/03/2016

Could be Rich, but I'm still hearing "But stick..."

  • 36. dannyno | 05/07/2016

The advertisement posted here: backs up the "elusive fig. L" lyric reading.

  • 37. bzfgt | 15/07/2016

It sounds nothing like 'L' (PBL) but Fig. One could be. Yet since 'L' is not sung there's not enough to change it and to me it sounds more like "Big One" still. But it's all noted above. I will revisit Peel now and see if there's more to be said.

  • 38. bzfgt | 15/07/2016

OK, "Fig. 1" in the video, "Fig. L" in the ad, no lyrics book version, sounds like "big one" on both recordings. I am tempted based on the evidence to alter it to "Fig. 1," which is a better lyric in any case. But because the printed versions diverge, and my ears seem to say "big," I'm leaving it for now. What does everyone think? Someone else want to listen to the two versions, or maybe even check a live one or two?

In any case, it's all recorded here, between the transcription, the notes, and the comments...

Sarah Bond
  • 39. Sarah Bond | 17/11/2016

I honestly believe he's referring to me, talking about the recluse on a computer. I was an atheist all my life and suddenly found God last week and my life has got continually weirder. I saw them in concert in Middleton about 2005 and I felt him look at me, I think MES is some prophet of God if he's not the Lord himself. I'm creating a Youtube playlist right now which relates to thing that have intriguesed me recently.

Sarah Bond
  • 40. Sarah Bond | 17/11/2016

.... I'm not normally one for hyperbole neither if you think I'm just nuts :)

Sarah Bond
  • 41. Sarah Bond | 17/11/2016

I'm thinking the G-O-H-.... looks mightily like organic chemistry and may relate to Adrenochrome?

  • 42. bzfgt | 24/11/2016

Sarah, that is a dynamite suggestion, it does look kind of like a chemical name. But adrenochrome is C9H9NO3, couldn't we find something closer?

  • 43. Zack | 14/01/2017

MES recited a short poem called "Centimeter Square" on his 1983 Greenwich Sound Radio Creatures What You Never Knew About appearance.

  • 44. Zack | 14/01/2017

^ He also read the poem "Amsterdam" (see Note #6).

  • 45. bzfgt | 04/02/2017

Centimeter Square:

found a web site that had posted an MP3 at one point but it's gone, unless a different IP or whatever can get to it, so I link: I don't know if that is a nonsensical hope or if there is some way it could work like that.

They also link to "the Fall website" but that link doesn't go anywhere either.

I wonder if there is a transcript anywhere? Dan, can one just contact people at radio stations and ask for transcripts? Does this radio station still exist?

  • 46. dannyno | 04/02/2017

GSR was a cable station, pretty sure it's long gone.

But I think I have the recording somewhere...

  • 47. dannyno | 05/02/2017

Transcript of "Centimetre Square":

The rouge smeared on the agèd profile of the local THF cologne branch chairman was sore and inched well away from prints. The centimetre oblong lipstick compounded fear. For him I did not care a jot. The centimetre square purges fear!

Not sure I'm hearing "prints" right, mind.

"THF cologne branch" - is this cologne as in perfume, or Cologne as in the German city?

I think it was also printed in the Sinister Times broadsheet.

  • 48. dannyno | 17/02/2017

"Panic in Sudan
Panic in Wardour
Panic in Granadaland"

Hard not to see an echo of Bowie's "Panic in Detroit" (off Aladdin Sane, 1973).

Would still be nice if there were real world connections, but I've never managed to find anything particularly significant.

  • 49. Sumsiadad | 24/02/2017

"Panic in Wardour"

I know MES hates them, but this is surely a reference to The Jam's "A-Bomb in Wardour Street"?

  • 50. bzfgt | 25/02/2017

I don't know about "surely," but possibly...

  • 51. MC | 21/03/2017

Surely th 'Barrett Inheritance bit is referencing Syd Barrett the great original British Psychedelic pop star, who was a mate of Kevin Ayers' and the subject of Ayers' 'Oh! Wot A Dream' from Banamour.

  • 52. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017

Dan, here's some Kevin Bacon on Ayres and Wild Willie:

But if we're going to dredge up "Barrett"s, Syd seems more likely in this case, as MC points out.

  • 53. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017

And MC, again I will say "I don't know about "surely," but possibly..." but here's what I want to know, and this is for anyone. There is no lyrics book version of this. Is the spelling "Barratt" (which I got from the Lyrics Parade) itself an interpretation, or is it attested somewhere authoritative-ish? If the former, MC's claim looks much stronger.

  • 54. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017

I think this is the most comments on any song, because this is the first time I can remember the site hiding them (I changed the setting so they're all on the page now).

  • 55. E3 | 07/04/2017

"centimeter square / said it purged fear" almost certainly a ref to LSD, as the video for this song flashes a tab of acid during this line

  • 56. bzfgt (link) | 06/05/2017

Thanks, E3--as you doubtless noticed I already made the LSD connection, but I had never watched the video carefully; it is nice to get reinforcement for my interpretation of the line...

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