Fit and Working Again


I'm fit and working again   (1)
Walk down the road in the sun
I make a path through a forty strong gang


I'm fit and working again
My sick, think I've seen the tail end
I'm fit and working again


I used to hang like a chandelier
My lungs encrusted in blood
But the flex is now cut clear (2)


I'm fit and working, dear
Took me ten years to write this song
I'm fit and working again

I'm fit and working again
I used to think this bog was the domain (3)
Fit and working again


Opinion is at most
One stimulus reason
If you've got the most
With the true precis
Analysis is academic
Some thoughts can get nauseous.


Sat opposite a freak on a train
Warts on his head and chin
Boy, was I getting so vain
I saw the recession around Victoria Station (4)


I'm fit and working again
Gimme gimme, ooo, gimme the sun. (5)
I'm fit and working again


And I feel like Alan Minter (6)
I just ate eight sheets of blotting paper (7)
And I chucked out the Alka Seltzer


Cause I'm fit and working again
Cause I'm fit and working again
Don't you know that was the tail end
I'm fit and working again.


1. Dan:

The back cover of "Slates" has this note: "FIT AND WORKING AGAIN

Religion costs much-but irreligion costs more"



2. Some live versions are slightly different, as MES sometimes sings "The cord is now cut clear." I had never heard "flex" used in this way (perhaps it is more common in Britain, though); it means a low-current electric cord in which there are two or more wires, separately insulated. Naturally, such a chord is very flexible, hence the name. Thus, the narrator could have tried to hang himself with an electrical cord. 


Dan finds another possible twist in the line, though, asking "Is it metaphorical, or not? And if it is metaphorical, is it the metaphor of revival after a suicide attempt or is it the metaphor of no longer shining so brightly, if with suffering?" On the other hand, Zetetic thinks it refers to a catheter...see the discussion below, the suicide interpretation is far from certain.


3. "Bog" is English slang for toilet; as Chris points out, this line may imply he used to spend large amounts of time ill in the "bog."


4. There are numerous Victoria Stations in England, including one in Manchester.


5. This may be "Gimme The Sun," as Gizmoman points out it could mean the newspaper called The Sun, which he says is popular with working class men.


6. Alan Minter is a British former boxer who became World Middleweight Champion in March 1980. He caused controversy before his fight with Marvin Hagler in September of that year when he exclaimed, "That black man is not going to take my title away." Hagler, however, did.  


7. Either a reference to LSD or just a goofy feat.  


Comments (31)

  • 1. dannyno | 25/05/2013
Worth noting that Fit and Working Again was a 1979 song, first played live in June and released on 'Dragnet' in October. So if we think about Alan Minter, we need to be thinking about 1978-1979.

I bring this up because it's not clear to me whether MES/narrator is in fact really fit and working again, or is deluded in some sense. The line "I used to hang like a chandelier
My lungs encrusted in blood
But the flex is now cut clear"

In particular disturbing. Is it metaphorical, or not? And if it is metaphorical, it is the metaphor of revival after a suicide attempt or is it the metaphor of no longer shining so brightly, if with suffering?

In July 1978, Minter's opponent Angelo Jacopucci died a few days after losing against Minter, due to injuries sustained.

Minter won all his bouts from November 1977 to June 1980.

So is "feeling like Alan Minter" a positive thing, or a negative thing?
  • 2. pokyQuaintStreets | 25/09/2013
I think it's
'I just ate ei
ght sheets of blotting paper
And I tripped out on the Alka Seltzer'.
  • 3. bzfgt | 07/10/2013

Your comments above are wonderfully insightful (the "flex is cut clear" sounds like gobbledegook to me though, what's it mean?). However, "Fit and Working" is on Slates, not Dragnet.

That sounds plausible, there's definitely no "on" though (so it would be "I tripped out the Alka Seltzer). I still hear it sounding a bit more like "chucked," though. Happily, your hypothesis is now recorded here, though.
  • 4. dannyno | 16/10/2013
Huh, of course it's on Slates!!! Should have realised - I was checking the Fall Tracks A-Z site and they have it wrongly appearing on Dragnet!

i think most of what I say still stands, and Minter's career would still have been in the news when this song debuted:
  • 5. bzfgt | 18/10/2013
Yes, Reformation had the entry for this mixed together with the one for "Spectre vs. Rector," and apparently they haven't gotten it fully disentangled yet. I'll try to remember to send them a message about it.

Live he says "the cord is not cut clear," so that clears that line up. I like your question about that, there are two ways to hear it (I had just noticed the suicide one).
  • 6. Martin | 18/10/2013
MES says that it "took me ten years to write this song". Well, maybe not ten years, but eight months previously he had used the words "fit and working again" in a performance of Underground Medicin (Deeply Vale; 29 July 1980).
  • 7. John | 23/10/2013
I always assumed it was "and I choked down the Alka Seltzer", which makes more sense since he feels like he's been in a boxing match after coming out of his acid trip and needs to take something to make himself feel less like crap.
  • 8. dannyno | 27/06/2014
"I make a path through a forty strong gang"

I just realised that walking through gangs is a bit of a theme in Fall songs. "I had to wade through 500 European punks" (Deer Park). And, er, well that's the only one I can think of. Oh, "Ol' Gang"?
  • 9. Mark | 28/06/2014
Re: "hanging" - I've heard the phrase in the UK used to mean not feeling very well (as in: "I'm hanging. I'll go back to bed.")
  • 10. dannyno | 15/01/2015
I've never heard that. Ever. In my entire life.
  • 11. Zetetic | 05/12/2015
I think it's "And I chucked Down the Alka Seltza" (as in, imbibed, the morning after)

(as an example - in local parlance) "Hungover? Chuck some of these down yer neck..You'll be right as rain, soon enough!"

Also, as in regards to the "Flex cut clear" line, I think here mark is mis-naming a catheter
(as in he was coughing up blood (as with Tuberculosis) but the tubes are now clear (so he's 'on the mend' )
- never been certain with this one though.
  • 12. bzfgt | 06/12/2015
That might be right, Zetetic, unfortunately it sounds neither more nor less like "down" or "out" to me....I think we need a couple other opinions on that before I can make a move...
  • 13. Jevans | 23/12/2015
"I used to hang like a chandelier
My lungs encrusted in blood
But the flex is now cut clear"

I think it's highly unlikely this alludes to attempted suicide, or the survival thereof. As speculated, 'flex' merely refers to the sort of electrical cabling that may well support a chandelier. The whole thing is mere imagery: an infected chest will feel weighed down, heavy. The malady passes, the lungs feel lighter, lifted somewhat, no longer encumbered by the infirmity that impeded it.

I've always felt that this track does what it says on the tin; it's about appreciating feeling well after a period of illness - although I could be entirely wrong about this.

['Flex' wouldn't typically be used in a medical context either, as is suggested above, although it's not impossible. It's more a 'trade' term, used by electricians, plumbers, etc.]
  • 14. Jevans (link) | 23/12/2015
'Re: "hanging" - I've heard the phrase in the UK used to mean not feeling very well (as in: "I'm hanging. I'll go back to bed."'

The implication being that one has drank too much:

The feeling after a night out when you feel terrible. Usually because of the amount of alcohol you have consumed.
  • 15. bzfgt | 27/12/2015
That's a great point, I think I lost sight of the fact that he hung like, not from, a chandelier, and he'd hardly be hanging like a chandelier from a chandelier. Of course it's possible he was hanging from a rafter, but this point does make suicide less likely.

On the other hand hanging by an electrical cord from a rafter would definitely be like a chandelier...heavy meditation is needed!
  • 16. dannyno | 28/12/2015
I've never ever heard "hanging" used in the sense Jevans reports. Hungover, yes.

So I can't make sense of Jevans' suggestion. His point about suicide is well made but, overlooks the ambiguity - because "chandelier" is not obviously a bad thing to be, is it?

Worth thinking about how chandelier's hang, which is a bit different to other light fittings. Often you have a pulley or hoist system to allow them to be raised or lowered. So if you cut the flex... your lights go out, yes, but also maybe you crash to the floor. So if we're thinking metaphorically, this isn't necessarily supportive of the relief/getting well interpretation.

Another point is that perhaps "hang" isn't what's meant. "Swing like a chandelier"?
  • 17. dannyno | 28/12/2015
Oh, I see Jevans is quoting Mark, above, to which I already responded in the same vein.
  • 18. Jevans (link) | 29/12/2015
To be clear, I don't think "I used to hang like a chandelier" does actually allude to being hungover. 'Hanging' in that sense is an adjective - it isn't used as a verb.

With regard to the suicide thing, I agree that being like a chandelier is not a negative thing per se, but they are heavy, stacked with lighted candles, so I hardly think it's a positive analogy - it suggests feeling heavy and encumbered, possibly on fire.
And if it was a metaphor for suicide, would not one write it "I hung like a chandelier"?

Basically, I think it could be an allusion to be tuberculous (which was not uncommon in the UK until about 50 years ago), the flex being employed in the medical sense as an apparatus used to drain fluid off the lungs.

"My sick, think I've seen the tail end" - He thinks he is finally on the road to a full recovery, maybe after having spent time in a sanatorium.

This is all conjecture, you understand...
  • 19. dannyno | 02/01/2016

Tuberculosis has occurred to me too, given the references to lungs and blood.
  • 20. Gizmoman | 19/01/2016
"Gimme the sun", probably refers to The Sun newspaper, the most popular with working class men, usually bought on the way to work.
  • 21. Chris | 05/01/2017
Hanging = hungover

Reference to "bog" is English slang for "toilet" or "W.C." (Water Closet i.e. bathroom/toilet)

Spending long time in bog because ill would make it a "domain" for the sufferer?
  • 22. bzfgt | 28/01/2017
Thank you, Chris. I'm not sure if I knew what a bog was and didn't notice it would need a note, or if I did not know what a bog was when I annotated. Either way, same result, I suppose.
  • 23. dannyno | 07/03/2017
I want to note a probably coincidental echo of Ibsen's "Ghosts".

Act 3:

OSWALD. [Sits in the arm-chair with his back towards the landscape, without moving. Suddenly he says:] Mother, give me the sun.

MRS. ALVING. [By the table, starts and looks at him.] What do you say?

OSWALD. [Repeats, in a dull, toneless voice.] The sun. The sun.
  • 24. xyz | 14/03/2017
i thought the "flex is now cut clear" was like flexing your muscles.
  • 25. xyz | 17/03/2017
also thought it was "i make a pact with a forty-strong gang" but his delivery makes either one seem likely to me
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017
xyz, are you American? That's partly whom this site if for, Americans like me. "Flex" to refer to an electrical cord is a British word, and in context it seems likely that's what he means. What would the sentence "the flex is now cut clear" mean if it were muscles?

The "pact" thing is plausible, it's really hard to say here and "through" is probably harder to swallow than "with." We need to consult live versions, there are 14 and someone must have one or two of them, but I do not...
  • 27. dannyno | 25/06/2017
The back cover of "Slates" has this note:


Religion costs much-but irreligion costs more:
Mike Watts
  • 28. Mike Watts | 10/11/2017
I think Chris may have it - there are quite a few sick/vomit references, so hanging over the bog, coughing up vomit/blood?

The flex might just mean a cord of mucus, or could refer to the 'gag reflex' having gone?
  • 29. maltodextrin | 29/01/2018
Sat opposite a freak on a train
Warts on his head and chin
Boy, was I getting so vain
I saw the recession around Victoria Station

My long-standing interpretation of this:
He sees an ugly looking guy across from him on the train, but then realizes he's looking at his own reflection in the train window (hence the reference to vanity), and on the other side of the window is the Victoria Station platform.
  • 30. dannyno | 29/01/2018
Comment #29. I like this, but there are not many trains where you would be sitting opposite to a window, are there? Adjacent, yes. But I may be being too logical, and I do like the interpretation, correct or not.
  • 31. dannyno | 11/08/2018
I was listening to the live version of this song from Trenton, New Jersey, 12 June 1981. At one point MES sings, "It took me ten years to write this song, now I'm fit and working again..."

Add a comment