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The Gas Man Cometh

hank you very much, good evening. May I introduce at the piano, the very distinguished pianist, composer and linguist, the Enid Blyton of English light music, Donald Swann. I must be Michael Flanders, obviously. We write songs, I write the words, Swann here writes the music. We wrote these songs originally for other people to sing, which they did, but not nearly enough, and so a few years ago we began to sing and talk about them ourselves, and that is what we're here to do tonight. We've been wandering around all over the place since we saw you last, we went to America, entertaining the Americans, whose need, let's face it, is greater even than yours, and then . . . of course, when we're over there we say that the other way 'round. We went to Canada and we were in Switzerland, which was interesting, too - they didn't understand a word but they loved it. It was very interesting to see the homeland of so many great British actors. This year we've been touring England's depressed areas and may I say what a pleasure it is to be here in London, my goodness. It is, isn't it? Hm?
DS: I think it is. I concur with every word you say.
MF: I must say, wandering around - he's trying to get his bit in - wandering around, things have come to a pretty underpass here in England while we've been away. It's small wonder to us that satire squats, hoof in mouth, under every bush. The purpose of satire, it has been rightfully said, is to strip of the veneer of comforting illusion and cozy half-truth, and our job, as I see it, is to put it back again. With this in mind we offer you some more of our respectable songs for responsible people under the title of "At the Drop of . . ."
DS: "Another!"
MF: "Hat." Well done! You got it then . . .
DS: Got it in the end, haha!
MF: Bang on, marvelously. Don't you say I never let you get a word in will you . . .
DS: No, I won't.
MF: . . . a word in edgeways, like "fish slice". Well, I think we're all assembled here, double bookings sorted out, so let's start with the first song. This is a sort of test piece, it doesn't count, as usual. Swann has moved since we saw him last. As some of you will know he used to live in Prince of Wales Drive, Battersea. But since he became a great star, he thought this wasn't really very suitable, and he now lives in Albert Bridge Road . . . Battersea - getting on for Clapham Common. Not that it matters very much where you live South of the River now, because as you know under the new London Plan they're lumping all those areas together. Going to call them Brighton. I still live in what is, I believe, soon going to be known as Chelsington, very pleasant area, and being at home has its problems. This song is a ballad of unending domestic upheaval. I'm sure you've all had something of the same experience, it's called The Gas Man Cometh.


'Twas on a Monday morning
The Gas-Man came to call;
The gas tap wouldn't turn - I wasn't getting gas at all.
He tore out all the skirting boards
To try and find the main,
And I had to call a Carpenter to put them back again.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

'Twas on a Tuesday morning
The Carpenter came round;
He hammered and he chiselled and he said: 'Look what I've found!
Your joists are full of dry-rot
But I'll put it all to rights.'
Then he nailed right through a cable and out went all the lights.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

'Twas on a Wednesday morning
The Electrician came;
He called me 'Mr Sanderson' (which isn't quite my name).
He couldn't reach the fuse box
Without standing on the bin
And his foot went through a window - so I called a Glazier in.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

Twas on a Thursday morning
The Glazier came along,
With his blow-torch and his putty and his merry Glazier's song;
He put another pane in -
It took no time at all -
But I had to get a Painter in to come and paint the wall.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

'Twas on a Friday morning
The Painter made a start;
With undercoats and overcoats he painted every part,
Every nook and every cranny,
But I found when he was gone
He'd painted over the gas tap and I couldn't turn it on!
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

On Saturday and Sunday they do no work at all:
So 'twas on a Monday morning that the Gas-Man came to call!


Originally from the album 'At The Drop of Another Hat'.