Theme From Error-Orrori
Chuff had a cough
And cold in his snout
Man's prog fanatic
Or as Italians say it:
Please take our three morons
and give us old Prussia
And with ... Shakespeare...
Give them our hybrids
Give us the bird
What they moan on about
The Hypocratic Oath (4)
Give them our sun
And we'll take the Shakespeare
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:
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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco_Nicolazzi ), 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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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: http://www.veneziadoc.net/Storia-di-Venezi...o-Spagnuolo.php. 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.
I also like John Cale, I really like the album 'Helen of Troy' , particularly one track on it: 'Sudden Death'.
The conference is over and they're calling out the guard
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.