The people I like
The people I like
The people I like live
In kitchens and halls (2)
I can't reach a decision on this.
Can I come back to you on this?
Hitler lost his nerve on it
Dr. Morell prescribed it well (3)
It's fast debts
I am Robinson Speedo
and this is my Gramme Friday (4)
Skin drops slow to the bones
But I've got my hunger anyway
I'm on Gramme Friday
Work and eat spontaneous
Enter the house of weariness
It's Fastnet (5)
A Bronchipax! (6)
1. "Gramme" is the British spelling of "Gram," or the latter is the American spelling of the former, as the case may be. "Originally defined as 'the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to the cube of the hundredth part of a metre, and at the temperature of melting ice' (later 4 °C), a gram is now defined as one one-thousandth of the SI base unit, the kilogram, or 1×10−3 kg, which itself is defined as being equal to the mass of a physical prototype preserved by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures." (Wikipedia) The song is apparently about amphetamine use, otherwise known as "speed." It is not a controversial claim that MES has had a taste for the stuff, and perhaps still does. Anyone who wants to can probably find out more substantive information about this via Google, but unless it directly affects lyrical content in a demonstrable way, I'm uncomfortable presenting what may seem like gossip about anyone's drug use. Suffice it to say that I do not condemn anyone for using drugs; although some of the concomitant behavior or effects may be worthy of opprobrium, in principle I do not have a problem with it. I feel it is proper to make this statement here because I do not want to appear as though I am taking either a self-righteous or a prurient interest in someone's drug consumption.
Dan suggests that it is not a coincidence that "Gramme Friday" is reminiscent of "Gavin Friday," whom MES was palling around with around this time.
In a letter to Tony Friel dated 25.1.77 (recently shared on The Mighty Fall Facebook group), MES listed "Kitchens + Halls" as one of "The OUTSIDER GROUP"s unrecorded songs.
The Fall originally called themselves The Outsiders until they learned the name was taken.
See also "Look, Know" and "H.O.W."
3. Dr. Theodor Morrell was Hitler's personal physician. From Wikipedia: "When Hitler had trouble with grogginess in the morning, Morell would inject him with a solution of water mixed with a substance from several small, gold-foiled packets, which he called 'Vitamultin,' whereupon Hitler would get up refreshed and invigorated. A member of Himmler's SS acquired one of these and had it tested in a laboratory, where it was found to contain methamphetamine." Note however that this may be an overblown case of misidentifying an addiction based on wishful thinking plus misinterpretation of old medical records in light of modern norms; see jules's acute comments below. In any case, what is most relevant is what MES knew or thought he knew, and even then he needn't have believed it to have made use of it.
4. This is, of course, a reference to Robinson Crusoe, from Daniel Defoe's novel of the same name. Crusoe, whose story was loosely based on that of the Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk, discovered, on his otherwise deserted island, a native whom he dubbed "Friday," after the day on which Crusoe first encountered him. Friday became Crusoe's assistant, and this is the origin of the descriptor "Friday" to describe an assistant or a sidekick (as in, frequently, someone's "man Friday" or "girl Friday").
5. Fastnet or Fastnet Rock is an islet at the southernmost tip of Ireland. It is basically a giant rock, which is probably why it is in the lyrics--it seems that MES is singing about a huge rock of speed. Note that this was one of the maritime locations commonly mentioned on the Shipping News which would come on very late in Britain when TV stations were signing off (thanks to Russell Richardson).
The rock would have been in MES's mind around the time he was recording Grotesque (After the Gramme). The biannual Fastnet yacht race, in which sailors navigate around the rock, resulted in 18 deaths in August 1979 when the weather turned rough, and consequently the 1981 race probably garnered a lot of media attention at the time. So the connection between racing and "speed" can also account for MES's use of the word here, possibly.
Aubrey points out that this also resembles certain words in German that refer to a carnival. From a blog about German culture:
There are three different words in German for “Carnival” or “Mardi Gras”: Karneval, Fasching and Fastnacht. Although all three refer to the same pre-Lenten observance, each has a different tradition and reflects somewhat different customs in different regions of the German-speaking world.
The word Fasching dates back to the 13th century and is derived from the Germanic word vaschanc or vaschang, in modern German: Fastenschank = the last serving of alcoholic beverages before Lent. In olden times the 40-day Lenten period of fasting was strictly observed. People refrained from drinking alcohol or eating meat, milk products and eggs. The English word “fast” (to refrain from eating) is related to German fasten.
Fastnacht... refers to the Swabian-Alemannic carnival, which differs in some ways from Fasching and Karneval, and is found in Baden-Württemberg, Franconia (northern Bavaria), Hesse and much of Switzerland. Although this word looks like it comes from the German for the “eve of Lent,” in fact it is based on the Old German word fasen (“to be foolish, silly, wild”). Thus the word, sometimes spelled Fasnacht (without the t) actually means something like “night of being wild and foolish.”
Fastnacht translates to English as "Shrovetide," i.e. Lent, (thanks to Mike Watt). The literal meaning of the word is "almost night."
And from Wikipedia, we learn that one of the names for the carnival is Fasnet:
In parts of East and South Germany, as well as in Austria, the carnival is called Fasching. In Franconia and Baden-Württemberg as well as some other parts of Germany, the carnival is called Fas(t)nacht, Fassenacht or Fasnet; in Switzerland, Fasnacht.
Finally, some commenters have pondered the content of the name--fast, like speed, a net, like the net of addiction, stuck fast, etc.
See the comments below for much discussion about Fastnet...
6. Bronchipax is an ephedrine tablet. Some of the end is hard to make out.
"The people I like
The people I like live
The people I like live in kitchens and halls"
I have no idea how that slipped by when I did this...this is like a trip to the pre-historic past, this must have been one of my earliest entries. bzfgt
I think "crank" does indeed refer to methamphetamine (in America?) but I don't think it ever refers to amphetamine sulphate, at least not in Britain.
I am looking into Fastnacht etc.
And, let me join Dan in applauding the comment.
RE: the other recent comments, I should say that I didn't know meth wasn't the preferred kind of speed in the day. I unthinkingly named the kind of speed that is most familiar but of course "speed" can refer to any number of things I think, even diet pills, no?
late night listeners to the BBC in the 70s and beyond will remember that the very last broadcast (when broadcasts actually stopped at night!) was the shipping forecast, which gave a poetically coded description of the weather and sea conditions around Britain. two things: this would usually be listened to in a sleepy state, enhancing its poetic effect; and it always repeated the exact same unusual words for the sea areas (Dogger; Fisher; German Bight; Scilly and.... Fastnet among them).
It's such an odd word to hear coming over the aether at 1 a.m. that I think we all had our heads twisted a bit. On the BBC!
I'm sure you can hear a few online, with a calm voice intoning stuff like, "Bailey / Variable 3 or 4 / Moderate / Showers / Good"
and then you could go to sleep. NB this would come close on the heels of the Peel Show, which ended at midnight, so...
Peel's programme was on Radio One, and the shipping forecast was on Radio Two until 1978 and Radio Four ever since. But for some time Radio One merged with Radio Two late at night, so anyone who stuck with the channel after the last programme (Peel if it was Peel), would get the shipping forecast after the news.
perhaps it seems comforting to some to believe Hitler was a drug addled loony but the truth is he was just naturally psychotic and foaming-at-the-mouth barking.
If I remember the documentaries title I'll post it when/if it comes back to me.
First aired 2014.
So, interesting but again, no physical proof of the use of amphetamine by Hitler only anecdotal, and shaky at best, evidence of his possible use on two occasions and it seems strange to me that despite noting, literally, hundreds of injections administered to the Fuhrer, including one containing strychnine (actually a stimulant in very small doses), he would fail to note the dose of a substance not considered harmful by either the medical profession, largely, or the public, who used Pervitin enthusiastically as did German troops. I've still to see any substantive proof of Hitler's so-called "addictions", though I don't doubt the fact he used vast amounts of vitamins and other supplements and Dr Morrell's own records document his use of barbiturates, we have to remember the culture at that time, thousands upon thousands used "barbs" as they became called, to sleep, as sedatives for the nerves and for depression, so he was doing something done regularly by large numbers of people, with their doctors blessing. It hardly constitutes world changing news, anyway, this is already way too long for a post on Fall lyrics. If my sieve like memory recalls the doc. I'll post it. Jules.
Also there and I think here; "I got meine hunger anyway"
There are more lyrics after the last "Friday" at 2.33. Something like "pep middlin" - on the live version he says "its pepmiddlin, that's Dutch for you know what" - seconds of online research online reveals that pepmiddel is dutch for "narcotic stimulant", pepmiddelin the plural
...So i think the end bit is something like "pepmiddelin , pepmiddelin, pepmiddelin its better than, Benylin, a Bronchi-Vax, a Bronchi-Vax, a Bronchi-Vax, a Bronchi-Vax, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, go, go, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, go"
Benylin is a cough medicine (you might know this, I don't know how global it is). Bronchi-Vax suggests a respiratory remedy. There is a medicine Broncho Vaxom but I don't know how long its been around for.
Poor-Man's Speed: Coming of Age in Wigan's Anarchic Northern Soul Scene, by Paul Mason, Vice magazine, 23 Sept 2013:
Poor Man's Speed
'This is my gram Friday with a blocked up nose'