Petty (Thief) Lout

Lyrics

(1)

Up the drain pipe
Rapid he did sprout
Grey tempus onus he had to inflict (2)
TV documentary that it produced

When he whistled in the street
The men would turn around in fear
Of being thought effete

Petty thief lout
Petty thief lout

Up the drain pipe
Rapid he did sprout
Crime

Hides records in his drawer at home
Especially when they are rare
Never gives 'em out to every Tom Dick & Harry
Who stole before from petty thief lout

Petty thief lout

On the drain pipe
Rapid he did sprout
Grey templates on us he had to inflict

Suburbia holds
more than you care for
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Suburbia holds... 

One must make sure
When leaving the house
Never to have white powder on the nose about

F-prints
F-prints on the fingers
Sprout
Sprout
Petty thief lout
Petty thief lout

Great tempus onus
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Great tempus onus

Petty thief lout
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Petty 
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Thief
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Petty thief lout
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Petty thief lout

 

Notes

1. From Reformation:

Of the lyrics, MES had this to say: "It's about my early teenage years, when I hung around with petty criminals. It's about petty crime, by people under sixteen years old."

^

 

2.  If this transcription is correct,  the following may be relevant:

Tempus means "time" in Latin, and means "tense" (in the grammatical sense) in German, Swedish and Finnish. Onus means burden, accountability or responsibility in both Latin and English. I have found the phrase attested on the internet, but I don't know Latin, and I can't tell if onus refers directly back to tempus in any of the sentences I've found, nor do I know if the grammar suggests that it should. Tempus ortus means "time of birth," I discovered, since Google is inexact when searching scanned script and the "rt" looked like an 'n' to it. Since I'm unhip to the grammar, I'm not sure if the full hybrid line should be "the great burden of time," or maybe something like "the time of a great burden" or "time burdens the great." The line is hard to hear clearly, and I'm unsure of the source that the Lyrics Parade relied on for this lyric, so anyway it's best not to make too much of it.

^

Comments (11)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 29/04/2014
This is what I'm hearing in the last verses:

"F-prints
F-prints on the fingers
Sprout
Sprout
Petty thief lout
Petty thief lout
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Great tempus onus
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Great tempus onus

Petty thief lout
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Petty
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Thief
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Petty thief lout
Suburbia holds more than you care for
Petty thief lout"
Caniman
  • 2. Caniman | 07/09/2017
A shoe in for my top 5 Fall songs ever......
The online Latin/English translator result for tempus onus is "a burden"
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
It is surprising that no one has corrected my above Latin yet, after all these years...
Portsmouth Bubblejet
  • 4. Portsmouth Bubblejet | 08/07/2018
Surely 'Grey templates on us' at the start of the song and 'Great tempus onus' at the end is in fact the same line?

I've no idea what the actual words are though, other than hearing the letter 'L' in the word 'templates/tempus' each time.
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2018
PB, that seems prima facie very likely, I'll try to listen to it
Autolytic Enzyme
  • 6. Autolytic Enzyme | 02/04/2019
July 19th, 1985, W.O.M.A.D.

Up the drain pipe rapid,
He did sprout grey temples on us.
He had to inflict TV documentary that it produced
It never came out

One must make sure when leaving the house
Never to have white powder on the nose about
and prints on the fingers sprout
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt (link) | 09/06/2019
Crap. this is a mess then
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 19/06/2019
For some reason note 2 in the lyric text points to note 3 in the notes, but there is no note 3 in the lyric text.
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 19/06/2019
I've found an interesting echo. Not sure what to make of it. The chronology is suspect, and yet...

This track was first played in March 1985, and appeared on the Couldn't Get Ahead/Rollin' Dany single recorded in early 1985 and released in June. Would be interesting to check early live lyrical variations.

Anyway, inspired by the "TV documentary" line, I was looking through TV listings, when I found this in the channel 4 listing in the Daily Mail of 3 May 1985:


11:15 FILM: The Ragman's Daughter (1972).
Long before television brought her world fame in The Winds of War, Victoria Tennant made a radiant screen impact in Alan Sillitoe's love story of two petty thieves at large in Nottingham. But she might have chosen a more endearing partner in crime than the lout played by Simon Rouse.


"petty", "thief" and "lout" all present and correct.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
Yeah those words are certainly in proximity...tantalizing
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
The worst thing that happens is I have links that say things like "See note 8 below." Then I add links and note 8 becomes note 10, and I don't catch it....there's stuff like that all over, I fear...

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