My New House

Lyrics

My new house (1)
You should see my house
My new house
You should see my new house

No rabbit hutch about it
I bought it off the Baptists
I get their bills
And I get miffed
At the damn polyester fills 
The interior is a prison unconscious
Interior is a prison unconscious

My new house
You should see my new house
My new house
Keep away from my new house

Wash the drawers of pills
It's got window sills
With lead centered in the middle of 'em
With lead centered in the middle of 'em

My new house
Is no beatnik hang-out
My new house 
You should see my new house

That Halifax copter
Sure dropped me a cropper

That Halifax copter (2)
Sure dropped me a cropper (3)

My new house
You should see my house
My new house
You should see my new house

Somtimes I think I'll ring Swine-Tax
And go back to our flat
Sometimes I think I'll ring Swine-Tax
And go back to our flat  (4)

But my new house
I do love the mad things about it

According to the postman
It's like the bleeding Bank of England
According to the postman
It's like the bleeding Bank of England (5)

Creosote tar fence surrounds it
Those razor blades eject when I press eject

My new house
You should see my new house
My new house
Could easy crack a mortal in it

The spare room is fine
Though a little haunted
By Mr. Reagan who had hung himself at number 13
Mr. Reagan hung himself at number 13

It'll be great when it's decorated
My new house
You should see my new house
My new house
You should see my new house

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Notes

1. As with "No Bulbs," the lyrics are a study in banality. According to Smith, this song is about buying a new house (apparently in Sedgley Park, Bury), no more and no less. Of course, there are still baffling lines like "the interior is a prison unconscious," to remind us that we are listening to the Fall (and which make an annotator tear his hair). The lyrics work perfectly with the music, which is one of the best of the Fall's many great stabs at rockabilly.

Brix provides the context (via Dan):

"According to Brix Smith-Start's autobiography, The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise: 'Our biggest purchase together was a house. It was round the corner from Mark's childhood home, where his parents still lived. It was very comforting to him to live a block away from his mother. We bought the house from a Baptist couple. They had kind, calm energy and there was a good vibe in the house.'"

^

2. Halifax, England is in West Yorkshire, and is only about 30 miles from Manchester. Stephen Parkin has made the following helpful suggestion (taken from the comments below): "I can't find an example on Youtube, but I remember TV adverts for the Halifax Building Society in the 80s that showed a field with 100 or more people standing in the shape of a giant 'X,' shot from a helicopter; I think the helicopter may have been shown landing as well.

The lines suggest that he got a bad deal on his mortgage, which could be why he thinks of going back to renting."

A "Halifax Copter" also sometimes shows up in "Words of Expectation."

A "building society" is more or less the equivalent of what is called a "credit union" in the United States.   

^

3. To "come a cropper" is to go wrong, stray, or fail. Various folk etymologies have been advanced to explain the saying, but it seems to have originally referred to falling off the tail end or "crop" of a horse.  

^

4. Lyrics Parade: "In Swinton, Manchester [Salford in Greater Manchester--bz], the local mini-cab firm was called Swin-Tax." Here MES seems to suggest moments of regret or buyer's remorse, at which times he yearns to return to his old apartment; on the other hand, maybe this thought arises out of (drunken?) forgetfulness.  The former flat may be the one immoratalized in "No Bulbs."

^

5. William Ham suggests that this could be a reference to Jon the Postman. Jon, who was (and apparently still was, as of 2014, a year before his death) an actual postman, became notorious when he used to wait until a local band finished their set, then jump on stage and sing "Louie Louie." Eventually he formed his own band and branched out from "Louie Louie."

In a 1998 interview with the NME, Smith made the following remarks:

[W]hy, according to the postman, was it like the bleeding Bank Of England?

"[I]t's a running joke where I live," Mark explains.  "Like, y'know, you hear lads in Salford, they'll go: 'You'll never get in my house, it's like Fort Knox'.  Someone tried to break into my house, actually, and the keyboard player said, 'Anyone that tries to break into your house, Mark, they must be insane.  Must have a suicidal death wish'."  

^

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Comments (29)

Stephen Parkin
  • 1. Stephen Parkin | 10/03/2013

I can't find an example on Youtube, but I remember TV adverts for the Halifax Building Society in the 80s that showed a field with 100 or more people standing in the shape of a giant "X," shot from a helicopter; I think the helicopter may have been shown landing as well.

The lines suggest that he got a bad deal on his mortgage, which could be why he thinks of going back to renting.

Portsmouth Bubblejet
  • 2. Portsmouth Bubblejet | 11/03/2013

Regarding the "Halifax Copter", I'd always thought that MES had got the wrong company. The iconic 1970s TV advert with the helicopter smashing through a hoarding was for Barratt Homes, not the Halifax Building Society:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wji0ocbjsgc

William Ham
  • 3. William Ham | 24/11/2013

I don't think anyone's brought this up, not to my knowledge at least, but could "the postman" be "the Postman," as in "John the Postman," Manc scenester extraordinare (and performer of two numbers on The Disparate Cogscienti)? I could imagine MES inviting JTP around to see his new place...

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 22/03/2014

For years I've been hearing "The interior is a prison unconscious" as "Liz Taylor is a prisoner of conscience"!!!

Anyway, the lyrics here are missing verses, there's the odd wrong word etc.

i.e. It's "our flat", not "my flat". As for the Baptists, he gets "their bills", not "the bills".

Here's what I hear:

"My new house
You should see my house
My new house
You should see my new house

No rabbit hutch about it
I bought it off the Baptists, I get their bills
And I get miffed at the damn polyester fills
The interior is a prison unconscious
The interior is a prison unconscious

My new house
You should see my new house
My new house
Keep away from my new house

Wash the drawers of pills
It's got window sills
With lead centred in the middle of them
With lead centred in the middle of them

My new house
Is no beatnik hang-out
My new house
You should see my new house

That Halifax copter
Sure dropped me a cropper
That Halifax copter
Sure dropped me a cropper

My new house
You should see my house
My new house
You should see my new house

Sometimes I think I'll ring Swin-Tax
And go back to our flat
Sometimes I think I'll ring Swin-Tax
And go back to our flat

But my new house
I do love the mad things about it

According to the postman
It's like the bleeding Bank of England
According to the postman
It's like the bleeding Bank of England

Creosote tar fence surrounds it
Those razor blades eject when I press eject

My new house
You should see my new house
My new house
Could easily crack a mortal, it

The spare room is fine, though a little haunted
By Mr Reagan who had hung himself at number thirteen
Mr Reagan hung himself at number thirteen

It'll be great when it's decorated
My new house
You should see my new house
My new house
You should see my new house"

bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 08/04/2014

Right you are, Danny; I must have imported this whole from the Lyrics Parade. Even though I've listened to it a million times since, I guess I never sat down with it and checked all the lyrics.

One small thing-- is "Swin-tax" pronounced "Swine-tax"? I thought it was a slangy alteration.

dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 08/04/2014

Well, "Swinton", if that's what it is, would be pronounced as spelled. Whether that would translate straightforwardly in local accents into "Swin-Tax" as opposed to "Swine-Tax", I am not in a position to know.

marc balance
  • 7. marc balance | 10/05/2014

..halifax building society adverts here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON31__0wSA0 (ffwd to 5:16)
and here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbqLtYmC5ms
...no copter visible...

egg
  • 8. egg | 15/11/2014

a few things:

I always heard it as "No razor blades eject when I press eject" - as if MES had bought a house with an evil villain-type security system, but finds it doesn't actually work. Now I feel like I can hear it either way?

Also, really think it's "Mr Raven", not "Mr Reagan". Is there evidence otherwise?

Also, the "Swine-Tax" pronunciation: clearly a joke.

petey
  • 9. petey | 11/11/2015

and i always heard
"Is no beatnik hang-out"
as
"It's where the big men hang out"

bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 23/11/2015

Petey,

I just checked, I hear "beatnik" still...

dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 04/05/2016

According to Brix Smith-Start's autobiography, The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise:


Our biggest purchase together was a house. It was round the corner from Mark's childhood home, where his parents still lived. It was very comforting to him to lice a block away from his mother. We bought the house from a Baptist couple. They had kind, calm energy and there was a good vibe in the house.

Bob Osborne
  • 12. Bob Osborne (link) | 04/11/2016

Sorry to be an aweful pedant but Sedgley Park is in Bury and not Manchester, it's part of Prestwich, which in turn is part of the wider metropolitan borough of Bury, which in turn is part of the Greater Manchester conurbation.

Bob Osborne
  • 13. Bob Osborne (link) | 04/11/2016

Re Point 4 : "In Swinton, Manchester, the local mini-cab firm was called Swin-Tax." Here MES seems to suggest moments of regret or buyer's remorse, at which times he yearns to return to his old apartment; on the other hand, maybe this thought arises out of (drunken?) forgetfulness. "

A few points of clarification

Swinton is in Salford and several miles west of Manchester, and south west of Sedgely Park, in Bury.

The assumption from the proposition above is that MES would ring the taxi firm in Swinton to "go back" to the old flat on Kingswood Road is a little odd given the distance between the New House and the Old Flat is a mere 1.5 miles and the Swinton Taxi firm is based a good 4 miles away around the M60 motorway. This would be a rather strange thing to do as Prestwich has it's own mini-cab services. And why would you ring a taxi company to take you back to your flat?

More plausible I think is the proposition that "Swine-Tax" is MES's "name" for his former landlord at the flat, and that he would be ringing him to ask to rent again.

bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt | 19/11/2016

Bob, aweful pedantry is the perfect description of what we do here, so your apology is unnecessary (unless I'm being an awful pedant myself by taking you at your word with that spelling...).

bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 19/11/2016

OK I made the corrections but isn't all this in Greater Manchester? Is it really wrong to say these places are in "Manchester"? I'm not sure what, politically, geographically, or culturally, "Greater Manchester" actually means. In the US, we would not say "X, Los Angeles" if a town were in the Greater Los Angeles area, which is more of an informal name for a conurbation, but I don't know anything about Britain...

bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt | 19/11/2016

And your second note is noted, I'm too confused by it all to do anything about it right now but it's on the record. Do you mean he'd call a more local cab company if it is as I say?

dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 21/11/2016

You don't need to take a position on whether Greater Manchester "is" Manchester. Informally, the terms are often used interchangeably, including by MES, but people are also capable of getting very angry about it. It's good to note the precise geopolitical facts, though.

As for Bob Osborne's #13 speculation about "Swintax", it's good to have the reminder about location and distances, but I take the thought in a different direction, and I certainly see no particular warrant for inventing nicknames for landlords.

Let's remind ourselves of the line:

"Sometimes I think I'll ring Swin-Tax
And go back to our flat"

"Sometimes" seems to indicate that this is not necessarily a serious thought, but the kind of thing people often say off-handedly. And that in turn would allow us to be less literal of the intention and more tolerant of lack of realism. But it's not thatunrealistic.

It's not implausible to consider taxis when moving home, especially if you don't have a lot of possessions and just need luggage space for boxes and suitcases etc. I've moved flats a short distance myself, and a vehicle was definitely required.

But would MES choose Swintax, if there are more local alternatives (although technically the M60 itself, referred to in comment #13, post-dates the song, the component roads existed)? Why not? Maybe he had used the firm before and trusted them. Maybe they were just the bigger firm? Maybe he knew some of the drivers? Maybe the name had the right number of syllables? Maybe they had better sized vehicles?

Jim
  • 18. Jim | 27/12/2016

Is it not 'caught me a cropper'? that is the usual way the expression is said, and in this case would mean that he was caught out/let down by the building society

bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt | 04/01/2017

Jim, I only have ever heard "(to) come a-cropper." Maybe in England it's "caught me a cropper"? I am listening now to see if he says this (or if it can be settled by listening; sometimes it can't be).

bzfgt
  • 20. bzfgt | 04/01/2017

I fixed a bunch of stuff! Wow. Anyway, the first time he seems to definitely say "dropped." I can't tell on the second repetition but I think he maybe switches to "caught," but I can't tell for sure--there's definitely no "-ed," but there's a hint of the "dr-" still. I left it as it matches and I'm not sure enough to change it...

bzfgt
  • 21. bzfgt | 04/01/2017

Is it definitely "Mr. Reagan"?

dannyno
  • 22. dannyno | 05/01/2017

Note 5


Jon, who was (and apparently still is, as of 2014)


He died in 2015.

dannyno
  • 23. dannyno | 20/02/2017

"It's like the bleeding Band of England"

Bank?

bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt | 25/02/2017

Yes, typo and off I never noticed. I wonder if the LP had that? (but not enough to go look)

bzfgt
  • 25. bzfgt | 25/02/2017

Typos must be easy as there's one in that comment too...the one thing that annoys is I can't edit my comments, since the site doesn't know me from Adam on this side of things.

dannyno
  • 26. dannyno | 25/02/2017

You need to get yourself an account. Although it won't help you edit your own comments.

Bob
  • 27. Bob (link) | 05/03/2017

Just pondering on the Swin-Tax debate once more I do recall there was a prominent landlord in the Higher Broughton/Prestwich area at the time called Schweinsteiger (or something similar name wise) who owned a serious amount of property and I guess I drew my conclusion from that i.e. MES used a combination of the first part of the name and, in his own unique use of language of turning "rent" into "tax". I appreciate this is speculation, i'll check with Una the next time I see her to she if she recalls who the landlord was.

dannyno
  • 28. dannyno | 05/03/2017

So it would just be coincidence, in your mind, that there was an actual taxi firm with that name?

bzfgt
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017

Yeah I never thought this line was particularly difficult to interpret, but I appreciate the logic and all. It's all here, now, in any case.

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