Theme From Error-Orrori



The conference is over
Peace is the plan
I wonder how long will it last
When Izzy and Bizzy and Boney began (2)
We wondered how long they would last

Chuff had a cough
And cold in his snout

Horror Error
Error Horror
Horror Error
Horror Error

Man's prog fanatic
Or as Italians say it:

Error Orror
Error Orror

Please take our free morons
and give us all worship

And with ... Shakespeare...

Horror Error
Horror Error
Horror Error

Give them our hybrids
Give us the birds
What they moan on about
The hypocrites could not scare them, son
I will take the Shakespeare (2)

Orror Orror



1. According to Reformation:

The video (see information above) was shot in Venice and Bambino Tostare, writing in the comments section on the website "The Story of The Fall", says:

"I've still got a poster somewhere that I pulled off a wall in Venice, for a public building project called "Errori Orrori", which I think was something to do with saving some bit of Venice from sinking into the sea. Given that the video for this (or was it something else around that time) was similar to 'Don't look now', which is set in Venice, I reckon this very poster was the inspiration for the song. "
In Italian, errori means "errors" (error is the singular form just as in English), and orrori means "horrors," so MES's usage of the title is more or less correct.
The remainder of this note is rom Danny:
Let’s start with this phrase “Error Orrori”. 

First of all, “Mistakes and horrors” or “Errors and horrors”, or vice versa, are commonly found phrases in English and Italian in lots of different contexts.

Although the Shiftwork and Holidays video has footage of posters saying “Errori – Orrori” in Venice (hence the Nick Roeg “Don’t Look Now” girl in red coat reference), and I'll explain the significance of the slogan in a second, MES could well also have come across the phrase elsewhere. 

For example, the Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelić published in 1938 an anti-Bolshevik work entitled “Horrors and Mistakes” , i.e, Errori e orrori in Italian – he was living under house arrest in Sienna at the time. Or there’s the Tennyson line, “Life with its anguish, and horrors, and errors – away with it all!” And lots more.

But if we take the film footage/posters as the proximate inspiration – and there seems to be good reason to do so - what's it all about?

Well, I can now explain the significance of the slogan in relation to Venice. Whether that tells us anything about the theme(s) of the song is another matter.

If you look closely at the posters in the first image in this thread, the phrase to hold onto is “Venice is not sinking”. And then there is the bottom left poster, with the words “progetto Nicolazzi / Errori-Orrori / idrodinamica dimenticata”. 

The posters and film images are all related, and comment until now has not got the significance of the posters right at all.

Translated, the posters read: “Nicolazzi Project / Errors – Horrors / hydrodynamics forgotten” (or "forgotten hydrodynamics" or some such).

This is not a poster for the theatre, nor an advert for a project to save Venice from the sea – it’s actually a protest against such a project.

Franco Nicolazzi is an Italian politician ( ), who served as minister of public works until 1987. 

His name has been attached for decades to what is otherwise known as the MOSE project (, an engineering solution to the problem of the flooding of Venice. The particular plan goes back to 1987, but efforts to “save the city” go back at least to the 1966 flood (and opposed or critiqued by the “Venice is not sinking” slogan – which has some truth to it of course). The Nicolazzi project has been opposed by environmentalists and others on various grounds.

One of the opponents for four decades was Ottavio Spagnuolo, regarded by some as a bit eccentric, but that is not our concern. He died in 2011.

There is information about Spagnuolo here: There are images there of him giving lectures in public, and of his other poster installations, which are clearly the same as or similar to the one shown in the first post in this thread. 

So the image in the Shiftwork and Holidays video, and the posters at the top of this thread are obviously those associated with Ottavio Spagnuolo’s “Venice is not sinking” campaign.

So now you know.

What of the rest of the lyrics? 

Well the line about “Izzy, Bizzy and Boney” is I think an obvious reference to Queen Isabella II of Spain, Otto von Bismarck and Napoleon Bonaparte III (commonly nicknamed “Boney”). The overthrow and eventual abdication of Isabella was manipulated by Bismarck and led to the Franco-Prussian War (Bonaparte unable to accept a German – Prince Leopold - on the Spanish throne).

After that, I'm skating on thinner ice.

The verse about Chuff’s cough and cold might possibly be referring to Dickens – there is a character called Mr Chuffey in Martin Chuzzlewit, described as having a “blue nose” and of whom it is said, “twenty years ago or so he went and took a fever.” But that feels like a bit of a stretch, and perhaps more interesting is the fact that the word “chuff” meaning cheeks is derived from the Italian “ciuffo”, meaning “animal’s snout”. A “chough” is also a type of bird, so the word may refer to a Jackdaw. Beyond that I cannot help.

The references to Shakespeare are puzzling. Shakespeare wrote “The Comedy of Errors”, of course, and also “The Merchant of Venice”. Perhaps there is something about one or other of those two plays that might be a clue. Or perhaps not.
2. Dan points out (see note 1 above) that these are surely Queen Isabella II (Izzy) of Spain, Otto von Bismark (Bizzy), Chancellor of Prussia, and Napoleon Bonaparte III (who was in fact nicknamed that by the British), who were contemporaries. The Franco-Prussian War was provoked by Bismark, who, incensed with the French for convincing a Prussian prince to give up his candidacy for the Spanish throne, doctored a dispatch to make it look like Kaiser Wilhelm had insulted the French Foreign Minister. This was in 1870--Isabella, who had been dethroned in the Glorious Revolution, officially abdicated that year, so she wasn't involved in the war; Bonaparte and Bismark were the heads of state and government, respectively, for France and Prussia.
"I will take the Shakespeare": Dan notes that this could be a reference to the BBC's Desert Island DIscs, where guests often choose the complete works of Shakespeare to accompany them in their lonely idyll. 











Danny points out that Shakespeare wrote The Comedy of Errors and The Merchant of Venice, either of which may be connected, if obliquely, to the lyrics of this song. 

What about playwrights? There seems to be an obvious parallel between the use of repetition in Samuel Beckett’s work and in the music of The Fall.

“It’s funny you should mention that, because we’re playing the Royal Exchange tomorrow and I saw ‘Waiting for Godot’ there. We’re the first rock group to play there. Personally I don’t know how much he had an influence. Do you like Beckett?”

I do, yeah.

“All me mates do. They really love him. I can’t see it myself. Although, I did see a version of it where it was set in the Weimar Republic and it was really good. The big bully boy was a Nazi. I like Shakespeare a lot, though. Macbeth, in particular. I think Shakespeare’s very, very underrated. Henry V. Every American film you can see they’ve just nicked bits from it.”

Shakespeare, by the way, was an obscure English playwright.


Comments (11)

  • 1. dannyno | 13/07/2014
"When Izzy and Bizzy and Boney began"

You ask: "But who are Izzy, Bizzy and Boney?"

That's actually easy.

Boney is a common nickname for Napoleon Bonaparte III.

In which case "Bizzy" would be Otto von Bismarck.

And "Izzy" would then be Queen Isabella II of Spain.

The Franco-Prussian war, of course, had its origins in a Bismarck-manufactured crisis over the succession to the Spanish throne.
  • 2. dannyno | 13/07/2014
There poster referred to above can be seen here:
  • 3. dannyno | 13/07/2014
From the Shiftwork and Holidays video:
  • 4. dannyno | 13/07/2014
I cracked the mystery of the posters.

See the FOF here:
  • 5. dannyno | 14/07/2014
I also have a theory that the conference referred to may have something to do with the reunification of Germany - hence the reference to Bismarck.
  • 6. dannyno | 22/09/2014
Godot at the Royal Exchange.

Could have been this one:
  • 7. dannyno | 22/09/2014
Other performances of Godot at the Royal Exchange:

  • 8. dannyno | 01/02/2016
I've said this somewhere, but apparently not here. But "I will take the Shakespeare" could be a quote from the long-running BBC Radio 4 show, "Desert Island Discs". On the show, a celebrity is interviewed about their life and achievements, structured around the idea that they can choose eight of their favourite records to be stranded on a desert island with - so they get to play those records and say what they mean to them. They also get to choose a luxury and a favourite book (they automatically get the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible - or other substitute). "Prog fanatic" could also be a reference to the same show...
  • 9. dannyno | 01/02/2016
John Peel was the subject of Desert Island Discs in January 1990, just a couple of months before the live debut of this song.
  • 10. nutterwain | 06/04/2019
I'm hearing:

Please take our free morons
And give us old Prussia
  • 11. nutterwain | 06/04/2019
I'm also hearing:

What they moan on about
The hippocratic oath
Give them our sun
And we'll take the Shakespeare

Ever so slightly obsessed with this song

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