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Date: 21/02/18


My silence may have been noted in some quarters.

I was going through a quiet spell in any case, but early last week I was hit by my sinuses kicking off big style with all the usual symptoms (which, you will be relieved to know, I do not intend describing).

What this also led to was my appetite completely disappearing over a period of four or five says, plus a terrible permanent queasiness. This I was able to pin down as being caused by my blood-glucose level shooting up into the Van Allen Belt. The combined effect has been to leave me as weak as a kitten. I still haven't gone back to work, and have been left to deal with the infinitely convoluted bureaucracy which is Nature's Way of disincentivising illness in general.

It has brought to mind something from happier times, however.

For about a decade from early 1994, I would get up at Wrexham Folk Club and 'do a bit'. This usually comprised traditional songs, or recitations of pieces by Mike Harding, Benny Hill or John Cooper Clarke. I never claimed to be much of a singer, but I was still taken aback when - during the interval at one such evening - a woman in the audience asked me, "And do you sing as well?". I had no answer, other than to try to shove her violently down the stairs and out into the street.

I did write one or two songs during that ten years, or compose parodies of well-known folk numbers (in this latter, I at least felt safe from a nasty case of the George Harrisons, as no-one knew who had written the tunes in the first place), and what follows is one of those.

It was based on the traditional song Ten Thousand Miles Away, but with new lyrics based on the policy of the current (2002) Labour régime's Health Secretary to send people a long way from home - perhaps even abroad - to get the treatment and 'procedures' they should have been able to get here. The political tit in question was Alan Milburn, one of the Blairiest of the Blairites, and his policy fitted right in with the 'whatever works' faux-plausibility which passed for an ideological underpinning to the government agenda of the time.

(Nowadays, of course, they're a lot more honest: they just leave you on a trolley to die).

The tune to the song which I learned by listening to Yardarm/Offa during their own sets at the club is at some variance with the ones I've found online for it, especially as to its tempo. Here - from Yardarm's debut LP of 1970 - is the version I know:

Graphic of an ear

And here are the lyrics wot I put to it:


It was on an autumn afternoon when I went to my G.P.
I felt like death, I was out of breath and had pimples on me knee.
Yes, pimples on me knee, me lads, getting bigger by the day.
He said, "The trouble is, there's a waiting list, unless you want to pay."

So, blow me savings, blow, abroad then I must go.
I'll stay no more on England's shore and watch meself decay.
In Calais and Paree, they can mend a wounded knee,
So I'm hobbling off for the boat to Roscoff, five-hundred miles away.

I went back to the surgery, "Oh, Doctor!", I did beg,
"There's thin blue lines like creeping vines growing right up my left leg!"
He looked, said, "Man alive! It's a map of the M5!
I'm afraid you're nixed if you want them fixed before new funds arrive!"

So, blow me savings, blow, abroad then I must go.
I'll stay no more on England's shore and watch meself decay.
In Münich and Berlin, they can pack the patients in,
So I'm taking the plane with me varicose vein a thousand miles away.

Then I crawled into Casualty, I was feeling worse and worse.
I didn't feel jolly lying on a trolley waiting three hours for a nurse.
And when one did arrive, she said, "My God, you're still alive!
Go behind this screen, and you might be seen before 2005!"

So, blow me savings, blow, abroad then I must go.
I'll stay no more on England's shore and watch meself decay.
In Delhi and Hong Kong, they can put right what's gone wrong,
So I'm taking a trip (still attached to me drip) five thousand miles away.

I staggered up to me G.P.'s house, and his door-bell I did ring.
I knew I had trouble, I was bent up double, and I couldn't lift a thing.
The Doc did not say much, just poked me in the crutch.
He said, "Just as I thought, here's a plastic support - be sure to keep in touch."

So, blow me savings, blow, abroad then I must go.
I'll stay no more on England's shore and watch meself decay.
In Sydney and in Perth, they know what a rupture's worth,
So travel I must with me surgical truss ten thousand miles away.

Well, when I see the state I'm in, it makes me want to cry.
This isn't the heaven that was promised by Bevan - perhaps the end is Nye!
Oh, what a bloody mess they've made of our N.H.S.,
When they send a man for his routine scan ten thousand miles away.
Yes, when they send poor Gran and her old bed-pan ten thousand miles away.