Diane Worstock and Dr. Jeffery Henning,
first came up with their innovative new idea, 
whilst standing in an airline queue, of all places.
(On the Milan to London flight on a cold Italian...their London flight had been delayed by two hours)
Standing in the queue, who would've thought that 
this innovative new idea would've occured to them,
(all their vacation Italian vouchers...)
ticket number was obliterated. 

It occured to them, standing in an airline queue, 
for the Milan to London flight on a cold Italian Saturday afternoon; 
(Viennese summer...)
the Italians certainly like their Sundays.And to make matters worse, 
some sort of Rock group was holding up things also,
they were bringing elbows and euros into Heathrow. (1)
( When you hear planes whoooosh..) 

Eleni (interspersed): 

the world's small now
but along I schlep
no vistas at night
followed him...

This was when the great idea was beginning to dawn on them,
to the Italian extreme cold or heat;  (2)
Anyway, Diane with the cooperation of Dr. Dave opened a bureau which not only tattoed your return number to Heathrow on your arm,
but also squeaks if you are carrying more euros into Heathrow.  (3)
(Suddenly, certainly, sullenly...)          (4)
And people who had cash, bringing it back, would be persecuted to the fullest extent! (5)
Worstock and Henning Ltd.
(Suddenly, certainly, sullenly...)

(Le vol de Milan à Heathrow a été retardé
Des formes de rap ... mouchoire en papier d'argent) (6)



1. This may be a humorously self-deprecating reference to The Fall. Alternativelty, the word "elbows" (which is just possibly the more obvious "albums," but really sounds more like the former) may perhaps be a hint that the English group Elbow is holding things up for Worstock and Henning. Heathrow is the London airport.  


2. Milan does indeed get fairly cold in the winter and hot in the summer, although in neither case would this be "extreme" by comparison with a good many places. It is less temperate than Manchester, however; in Milan, the average high temperature in July is 84 degrees (29 C) vs. 68 (20) in Manchester, whereas Milan averages a low of around 38 (5) in December, about the same as Manchester. However, if we look at the record highs and lows, Milan's deviate further from the average than those of Machester, so it is conceivable that a visiting Englishman would experice temperatures that seem extreme in comparison to those in northern England. It is an odd line in any case; one would think the heat was either extemely hot or cold, and that there wouldn't be much doubt about which, and we were told earlier it was cold on the day in question. It isn't clear what relevance the temperature has to the "obliteration" of ticket numbers. In general this is a faux-ordinary tale; none of it makes any sense but it is told in a matter-of-fact way such that the effect is a certain spurious realism. The story is surreal but not fantastic; perhaps we could say that it is pseudo-mundane.  


3. Several listeners have heard "tweets" here, but I am pretty sure the word begins with 's.' Maybe he says "squeets."  

The invaluable dannyno at the Fall online forum has unearthed the follwing tidbit from the Sunday Times of Sept. 14, 2008: 

Air New Zealand is recruiting "follicly challenged" travellers to advertise a new system intended to reduce check-in times. Fifty volunteers will have a temporary tattoo, lasting about two weeks, inscribed on the back of their heads for a payment of £380 per capita. The airline's marketing manager, Steve Bayliss, said: "How better to tell our customers that Air New Zealand is going to do something about [long check-in queues]... than through messaging they can read while they're standing in a queue themselves?" In a move to defuse any charges of sexism, the carrier made it clear that female baldies are also welcome.

Reader Ray weighs in with a perspicacious comment:

"It would seem to me that this song warns of the ensuing drive by powers-that-be to institute a cashless society (for example, see; it is perhaps notable that it appears on the same EP as 'Hittite Man,' another comment on financial means of manifesting social control (in that case, via debt).

I write this in the midst of a concerted anti-cash advertising drive on the part of Paypal, and those offering 'convenient' contactless payment services."


The version of "Jetplane" from Live: Uurop VIII-XII and Places in Sun & Winter, Son has the tattoo on the back of passengers' necks. 


4. Recently leaked demos and/or outtakes include a track entitled "Suddenly, Certainly." Musically this is quite different from "Jetplane," but the vocal portion consists of the above refrain, with the same melody. It seems to be the kernel of a song idea which was subsumed by "Jetplane." Thanks to Zack for reminding me of this.


5. The stock phrase is, of course, "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." MES's version previously appeared in identical form in the sleeve notes to Perverted by Language: "Badge and shirtmakers not reporting to this man ... will be persecuted to the fullest extent."

He uses the same phrase in at least one live version of Kinder of Spine.

SS notes that the phrase appears in this form on Firesign Theatre's Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers. MES quotes Firesign on "Loadstones," which seems to me to make the connection here more likely.


6. Translated (thanks to Maldoror): The Milan to London flight has been delayed. Types of rap ... tin foil handkerchief.





More Information

Comments (16)

Mike E Hardy
  • 1. Mike E Hardy (link) | 26/09/2014
I hear Eleni's part as "But along I schlepp. No vistas at night" Which makes sense to me as there are no fantastic vistas to be seen out of an aeroplane in the darkness
  • 2. Ray | 02/05/2016
It would seem to me that this song warns of the ensuing drive by powers-that-be to institute a cashless society (for example, see; it is perhaps notable that it appears on the same EP as "Hittite Man", another comment on financial means of manifesting social control (in that case, via debt).

I write this in the midst of a concerted anti-cash advertising drive on the part of Paypal, and those offering "convenient" contactless payment services.
  • 3. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
Good stuff, Ray, I used it; and sorry for the delayed reaction, I've been lax with this site lately.
  • 4. Zack | 24/06/2016
Thanks to the May 2016 leak of recent outtakes we know that The Fall recorded a song called "Suddenly, Certainly". The song is presumably unfinished since there are no lyrics during the verses, but the chorus is MES singing "suddenly, certainly" just as he does in "Jetplane".
  • 5. dannyno | 28/12/2016
Note 3: "The invaluable dannyno at the Fall online forum has unearthed the follwing tidbit from the Sunday London Times of Sept. 14, 2008 "

The Sunday Times is editorially distinct from the Times, and there is no such paper as the London Times. So the note should read (correcting also the typo "follwing"):

"The invaluable dannyno at the Fall online forum has unearthed the following tidbit from the Sunday Times of Sept. 14, 2008" .
  • 6. bzfgt | 04/01/2017
That's weird because "The Times" to me is the New York Times. I don't want to encourage them, but OK...
  • 7. Maldoror | 07/01/2017
Here are the French lyrics spoken by a male voice towards the end of the song.
(English translation in brackets below)

"Le vol de Milan à Heathrow a été retardé"
(The Milan to London flight has been delayed)

"Des formes de rap ... mouchoire en papier d'argent"
(Types of rap ... tin foil handkerchief)

To me, they contribute to the slightly off-kilter airport setting, and further the theme of overheard/misheard announcements and conversations. Similar to "Bonkers in Phoenix" in that respect. Stuck and alienated in a "non-place" while some form of excitement happens at a spatial distance (indie-band gig for "Bonkers", planes overhead for "Jetplane").

Also, I'd agree with Mike E Hardy (above) that Eleni's line is:

"The world is small now
but along I schlep.
No vistas at night."
  • 8. dannyno | 22/01/2017
According to the Reformation! site, Smith made the following interjection during a live performance of the song:

8 June 13 Long Division Festival, Wakefield:

- "Margaret Rutherford first came up with her amazing travel plan" (at beginning of Jetplane)

Margaret Rutherford was an well known English character actress. And one of the films she was in was, which could possibly be behind Smith's comment, was "The Runaway Bus".

When heavy fog wreaks havoc among air travelers throughout England, outspoken Cynthia Beeston (Margaret Rutherford) - a forceful proponent of "Positive Thought" - insists on being taken from London Airport to Blackbushe Airport, where she might be able to fly to Dublin. Harassed airline employees find emergency relief coach 13 and reserve driver Percy Lamb (Frankie Howerd) - so hapless he cannot find his way around the airport, much less the roads - to transport her. She is joined by mild-mannered Henry Waterman (Toke Townley), pulp-thriller addict Janie Grey (Belinda Lee) and Ernest Schroeder (George Coulouris). To satisfy a regulation, stewardess "Nikki" Nicholls (Petula Clark) is assigned to shepherd them. Rounding out the party is airline first officer Peter Jones (Terence Alexander), who hitches a ride. Unbeknownst to most of them, robbers have stolen £200,000 worth of gold bullion from the airport bonded store and hidden the proceeds in the boot of the coach....


Perhaps there are clues to the lyrics in the film?
  • 9. bzzfgt | 04/02/2017
Yes, and the Eleni lyrics youse suggest make more sense. And thanks for the Frogese.
  • 10. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
That is certainly suggestive. Last weekend I watched Alone in the Dark, by the way, which was kind of a dud but the Donald Pleasance character was tremendous. I didn't learn anything more about Craigness than I already had from that one scene, unfortunately...
  • 11. Martin | 09/02/2017
I've been listening to various live versions of the song from 2013 and while I don't have any great new analysis to add to the discussion a couple of the variant lyrics may be interesting to some of you:

10th May 2013 – East Village Arts Club, Liverpool: "Jeanette Sanders" came up with "the idea".

[pre-cog here concerning this name and planes?: lookee here:]

There seem to be various Jeanette Sanders in the world, but at least one of them is an actress, just like Margaret Rutherford.

12th May 2013 – Trades Club, Hebden Bridge: "Diane Worstock from the small town of Haslingden came up with this marvellous idea..."

(The Lancashire town of Haslingden also featured in English Scheme.)
  • 12. Martin | 09/02/2017
Of course, in the Haslingden reference above, The Fall could conceivably have driven to Hebden Bridge via Haslingden and the name stuck in MES's brain when he started singing the song...just one of those word-associations which happen to all of us.
  • 13. Martin | 13/02/2017
So on youtube I watched The Runaway Bus, referenced above, Sorry to report that there's nothing in the dialogue which is echoed in any of the lyrics of Jetplane, and the only things in common seem to be airport delays and the presence of cash...nothing particularly concrete, I'm afraid.
  • 14. dannyno | 20/02/2017
Well, thanks for watching it! I think MES's live reference to Rutherford must be because of that film, but perhaps there's no other link
  • 15. Bob (link) | 07/05/2020
re 12 - Prestwich to Hedben Bridge would be east via Rochdale, whereas Haslingden is north of Bury in a Burnley direction. You could go that way but it would add 20 minutes on to the journey. The most direct route is up the M62 and then via Littleborough through Todmorden...a more scenic route.
  • 16. dannyno | 21/07/2021
MES discussed Firesign Theater in his 1983 Greenwich Sound Radio appearance.

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