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A Transport of Delight

1959 recording introduction:
MF: Good evening. Need I Introduce, at the piano, the well-known pianist, composer, linguist, also contains lanolin, Donald Swann.
I must be Michael Flanders. We write songs, Donald Swann here writes the music and I write the words. Some of these songs you may possibly have heard, in revues, at Glynebourne and so on others you've less likely to have heard unless you've patronised this palace of culture before; they're the ones we write that we like to sing ourselves. That's what we're still going to do.
We feel we're following this trend towards simplification in the theatre as you know, there have been revues without scenery, there have been revues without costume. This is a revue without scenery, without costume, except what Moss Bros. has kindly lent to us, even without a cast, which makes everything much easier we find also cheaper. This up the back here I draw your attention to is not a curtain, It's a photograph of a curtain by Tony Armstrong-Jones.
Welcome from both of us to out forago, eke out our imperfections with your thoughts, to coin a phrase, think when we talk of horses that you see them printing their proud hooves in the receiving earth. I don't think we do actually talk of horses. This song isn't about horses, it's about buses. Well, buses we've all seen, great big red things rushing about; we had one outside here, about 20 minutes ago with private on it, looking very lost. I can remember when it was a general. If you laugh and applaud it means you're terribly old and we'll have to go terribly slowly. Omnibus, my friend Mr. Swann informs me, comes from the Latin, Omnibus, meaning to or for by with or from everybody, which is a very good description. Well, this song is about a bus, it's wittily subtitled - I thought of this - A transport of delight.


1957 recording introduction:
MF: Good evening. At the piano, the well-known pianist, composer, linguist, and general all-round egg-head, Donald Swann.
So obviously, I'm Michael Flanders. We write songs, for want of a better word; I write the words, actually, Donald Swann here writes the music. Some of these songs you may possibly have heard, in revues, at Covent Garden and so on; others you're less likely to have heard ; they're the ones we write that we like to sing ourselves. And with your permission that's what we're going to do tonight. Well we're going to do it even without your permission.
Welcome to our farrago, that's a sort of Do It Yourself authors' benefit, eke out our imperfections with your thoughts, to coin a phrase; think when we talk of horses that you see them printing their proud hooves . . . I don't think we do actually talk of horses . . . The first song is about a bus; it's a noisy, raucous, rather . . . vulgar? Yes, almost vulgar, I suppose, but we like it, and it helps us to get the pitch of the hall. It's wittily subtitled A Transport of Delight.


Some talk of a Lagonda,
Some like a smart M.G.,
Or for Bonnie Army Lorry
They'd lay them doon and dee.
Such means of locomotion
Seem rather dull to us
The Driver and Conductor
Of a London Omnibus.

Hold very tight please, ting-ting!

When you are lost in London
And you don't know where you are,
You'll hear my voice a-calling:
'Pass further down the car!'
And very soon you'll find yourself
Inside the Terminus
In a London Transport
Diesel-engined
Ninety-seven horse-power
Omnibus!

Along the Queen's great highway
I drive my merry load
At twenty miles per hour
In the middle of the road;
We like to drive in convoys
We're most gregarious;
The big six-wheeler
Scarlet-painted
London Transport
Diesel-engined
Ninety-seven horse-power
Omnibus!

Earth has not anything to show more fair!
Mind the stairs! Mind the stairs!
Earth has not anything to show more fair!
Any more fares? Any more fares?
When cabbies try to pass me,
Before they overtakes,
I sticks me flippin' hand out
As I jams on all me brakes!
Them jackal taxi-drivers
Can only swear and cuss,
Behind that monarch of the road,
Observer of the Highway Code,
That big six-wheeler
Scarlet-painted London Transport
Diesel-engined
Ninety-seven horse-power
Omnibus!

I stops when I'm requested
Athough it spoils the ride,
So he can shout: 'Get aht of it!
We're full right up inside!'

We don't ask much for wages,
We only want fair shares,
So cut down all the stages,
And stick up all the fares.
If tickets cost a pound apiece
Why should you make a fuss?
It's worth it just to ride inside
That thirty-foot-long by ten-foot-wide, Inside that monarch of the road,
Observer of the Highway Code,
That big six-wheeler
Scarlet-painted
London Transport
Diesel-engined
Ninety-seven horse-power
Omnibus!


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

Note: this song has numerous alternate lyrics. In the 1959 recording, the first two lines are:
Some people like a motorbike,
Some say a tram for me.