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The Gnu

This is a perhaps good moment to explain that we donít normally have these things standing around here, but tonight they are recording this, stereophonically in fact, for posterity. So, wherever youíre sitting now, thatís where youíll be on the record. Sit up nice and straight; if any of you feel like rolling in the aisles or being carried out helpless with mirth, this is a jolly good night to do it. Do you want to say hello to posterity?
DS: Hello!
MF: Hello, Posterity. If we sort of move around a bit, theyíll use it for demonstration purposes. It helps, you know. Weíve had a lot of luck with records. Some of the songs that have made our names a household word, like slop-bucket, are the little series of animal songs that weíve been writing, mostly for E.M. Wallace, an artist we very much admire. We have several of his paintings at home. Weíre often asked how we write these songs - often asked why, if it comes to that. Itís not always easy to say exactly how the idea for a song first comes, but I can as it happens tell you how I first got the idea for this next song.
I live in Kensington - naturally; [points to DS and whispers:] Battersea! [normal voice] He calls it South Chelsea. Itís er, itís very much snobbier for me, you turn left by Pontingís dustbins. Scarsdale Villas, sort of decayed gentility. Very nice, though, you know, open, trees, very happy there, smokeless. The road itself is a bit of a snag. That road has got the steepest camber on it, you know, the old slope, of any road in London. Itís about one in three. If you try to park your car by the pavement, as people do from time to time, the carís tilted, like that. Well now, that means you can only get this near-side door open a little bit, then the pavement stops it. If you want to use this door you can make a jump for it. Bad enough all up and down the road, but just outside where I happen to live, 1a (of course it would be), itís just like the great North face of Everest. The thingís right over on its side. You canít get this door open at all, youíve got to keep it full of petrol or it shows empty. I canít use this door, Iíve got to get into this thing, you see, on the pavement. Well, I wrote to the local council about this. Very nice about it, you know, elections coming up and so on. We have got a jolly decent lot of old burghers on our council. Get them sticking up flags on the Town Hall, Iíll tell you that much. But then our council is, of course, strictly non-political. Theyíre all Conservatives. They took a bite out of the pavement. Didnít do it themselves, they sent a chap íround, chap with a chain íround his neck. And there is just one spot now where I can drive up in a comparatively lordly fashion and get out very nicely, thank you, thanks to the borough engineers. At least I could.
But you know every day when I get back from my day-time work with the Submerged Log Company, I find another car has parked in that spot. Would you credit it, always the same one, day after day, a great big horrible flashy thing with teeth. Itís got an engine at both ends. Never seen the owner, just the car. I have done everything to shift him, did you see me? [DS makes sympathetic noises] Iíve put little notes under the windscreen wiper, saying 'do not park her; you shall smart for this'. I keep putting orange boxes out there, as you have to, you know. Iím fed up with oranges! I stick pins into a wax model of his big end, there it is next day, large as life and twice as u. . . itís not one of the neighbours, this chap, whoever he is, he comes from miles to park his car in that spot. Never get hold of him; might be anybody. The whole of London. Might even be one of you.
If anybody here tonight is in the habit of parking their car in Scarsdale Villas, might I ask you, would you leave it up the far end, up at the Pembroke Arms, give it a treat? Not always bang outside 1a? Thank you very much. The number of this car, Iíll never forget this number as long as I live. Iíve sat gazing at it for hours on end sometimes, thinking of nothing else. The number is 346-GNU.
Hereís another animal song.


A year ago, last Thursday I was strolling in the zoo
when I met a man who though he knew the lot.
He was laying down the law about the habits of Baboons
And how many quills a porcupine has got.
So I asked him: 'What's that creature there?'
He answered: 'Oh, H'it's a H'elk'
I might of gone on thinking that was true,
If the animal in question hadn't put that chap to shame
And remarked: 'I h'aint a H'elk. I'm a Gnu!'

'I'm a Gnu, I'm a Gnu
The g-nicest work of g-nature in the zoo
I'm a Gnu, How do you do
You really ought to k-now w-ho's w-ho's
I'm a Gnu, Spelt G-N-U
I'm g-not a Camel or a Kangaroo
So let me introduce,
I'm g-neither man nor moose
Oh g-no g-no g-no I'm a Gnu'

I had taken furnished lodgings down at Rustington-on-Sea
Whence I travelled on to Ashton-under-Lyne it was actually
And the second night I stayed there I was woken from a dream
That I'll tell you all about some other time
Among the hunting trophies on the wall above my bed
Stuffed and mounted, was a face I thought I knew;
A Bison? No, it's not a Bison. An Okapi? Unlikely, Really. A Hartebeest?
When I though I heard a voice: 'I'm a Gnu!'

I'm a Gnu, ,A g-nother gnu
I wish I could g-nash my teeth at you!
I'm a Gnu, How do you do
You really ought to k-now w-ho's w-ho.
I'm a Gnu Spelt G-N-U,
Call me Bison or Okapi and I'll sue
G-nor am I the least
Like that dreadful Hartebeest,
Oh, g-no, g-no, g-no,
G-no g-no g-no I'm a Gnu
G-no g-no g-no I'm a Gnu

It's very G-nice of you.


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