The Birmingham School of Business School

Lyrics

(1)

The car is at the roundabout
The policeman is at the roundabout (2)
But I'm full of surprises now
And my friend, he said I'm full of surprises now
Let me tell you about scientific management
And the theft of its concealment
The Birmingham School of Business School (3)
In Birmingham
It's main theme

Weave a web so magnificent
Disguise in the art of conceit
Give a very firm handshake
And take the bastards for everything that they rate
The Birmingham Business School of Business School

Deposits prisoner robotics
Home to their wives Stepford (4)
Case-carrying
Business School
Birmingham School of Business School
Birmingham School of Business School
In the heart of Britain
The big heart of England
Lee Coopers on F.E.s (5)
The Birmingham School of Business School

[?] crash into walkin'
Hitching
Blazers
Builders
Tryna find a job
The jumped up prats
Birmingham Business School
The Birmingham School of Business School
Birmingham School of Business School
Laughing-stock of European
Olympic bidding again and again (6)
Exciting developments
The Birmingham School of Business School 

("Trevor Long" "Speaking" [dial tone])

Notes

1. This song is reputed to be about Trevor Long, who managed the Fall in the late '80s and who was subsequently sued (unsuccessfully) by Mark E. Smith for appropriating some of the band's funds. From an interview with John Procter of I, Ludicrous in The Biggest Library Yet:

"Trevor Long rubbed us up the wrong way from the start. But, in true Nietzchean style, we embraced our enemy (I learned that from Mark). By the end of the tour, Trevor was spending most of his time in our dressing room, which was very disturbing. Very disturbing indeed. Mark described Trevor as The Fall's guru, but we were wary of him.
I suspect Gentleman's Agreement to be about Trevor, but can shed no further light. The Birmingham School of Business School is more specifically about Trevor and his creative accounting techniques."

There is some indication that "Don't Take The Pizza" is also about Long, at least in part.

One can almost hear "Brummagem School of Business School," a word deriving from 'Birmingham' which denotes cheap or ersatz goods. 

The form of the title echoes a radio piece MES read on the pirate station Greenwich Sound Radio in 1983 entitled "Mark E Smith Guide to Writing Guide." And at the end of "Yes, O Yes" from the ballet I Am Curious, Orange (and the album I Am Kurious, Oranj), MES is heard to say, "And that's what you get when you join the M. Clark School of Soccer Coaching School: Enraged and inflamed with torment."

Martin submits:

Typewritten comments about the song found on the Code: Selfish album sleeve: "The weak in courage are strong in cunning2 [sic] (Blake) milling about in the hotel reception. Convention vermin who read the 'Sunday Sport`too often. [The actual Blake quote has the singular "is" and not "are", by the way.]

^

2. Roundabouts are also referenced in M5 and Way Round.

^

3. The Birmingham Business School is part of the University of Birmingham.

^

4. The Stepford Wives is a 1972 novel by Ira Levin in which the wives in an upscale suburban Connecticut neighborhood turn out to be robots. Film versions were released in 1975 and 2004.  

^

5. Lee Coopers are jeans that were particularly trendy in the 1950s and 1960s. An F.E. is a financial executive.

According to Seadog Black on the Fall Online Forum,  "To me it sounds like F.U's and that would make more sense as F.U's are a famous American brand of jeans from the 70's/80's."

^

6. Birmingham made a bid for the Olympics in 1992, the year Code:Selfish was released.

^

Comments (8)

egg
  • 1. egg | 18/05/2014
There's a muffled "Chairman Long speaking", followed by a dial tone, towards the end of this song.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 27/06/2014
Scientific management AKA Taylorism, of course. But maybe that's too obvious to annotate

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_management
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 15/07/2014
I take it to be maybe older than Taylorism, but rather the early days of industrial production etc...I remember David Harvey talking about a contrast between the Manchester and Birmingham models of production, but I can't remember where and didn't find anything about these on Google. Keep your eyes out for it if you would (I don't think Harvey is being idiosyncratic, I'm pretty sure that in the 19th century it was a thing.
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 13/08/2014
From Steve Hanley's "The Big Midweek" p309:

" 'The Birmingham School of Business School' with its less-than-cryptic tirade about a band manager from the Midlands. To clear up any remaining doubt as to which manager the song may be calling into disrepute, Mark even insisted on tacking an authentic recording of an answerphone message onto the end of the piece."
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 13/08/2014
bzfgt:

From David Harvey's "A Companion to Marx's Capital, Vol 1" pp.214-215:

"Marx tend to universalize what is going on in Manchester as if this is the ultimate form of capitalist industrialism... If Engels had been in Birmingham, Marx's presentation might have been quite different. The industrial structure there was small-scale but assembled in such a way as to realize economies of agglomeration. It was more craft-oriented, with workshops producing guns, jewelry and various metallurgical products, and it seems to have been highly efficient and characterized by very different labor relations from those found in the huge cotton factories of the Manchester region. Marx evidently knew very little about what we might call the Birmingham model of capitalist industrialism and therefore failed to address a distinction that has been long-lasting in the history of capitalist development."
MandrakeAnthrax
  • 6. MandrakeAnthrax | 07/02/2017
I'm fairly sure that's simply "Trevor Long" in the end, not "Chairman Long".
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
I think so!
Martin
  • 8. Martin | 26/03/2017
Typewritten comments about the song found on the "Code: Selfish" album sleeve:

"The weak in courage are strong in cunning2 {sic] (Blake)
milling about in the hotel reception. Convention vermin who read the 'Sunday Sport`too often.

(The actual Blake quote has the singular "is" and not "are", by the way.)

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