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Thursday, March 08, 2007


There's more than one kind of art

... so I'd like to call your attention to the excellence of British culture at a grassroots level: to wit - football chants.

By football, I mean soccer, for the benefit of you who live elsewhere: the Beautiful Game which consists of rules even I can understand. Each team member tries to get the ball to go into the goal, propelling it with any part of his body excluding his arms, usually using his feet, hence the name. (Which is why American football really ought to be called something else; there's far too much arm-work involved.) And football chants, while not always very good, can have a kind of inspired quality which is endlessly pleasing.

For example:

You're shit
And you know you are
You're shit
And you know you are

when sung to the opposing team ( the tune of 'Go West') has an admirable directness, as does the traditional 'You can stick your David Beckham up your arse' (to 'She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain') - or whoever the star player of the opposing team happens to be, as long as his name scans. Others can be a little more complicated, as for instance when Scotland played Norway:

We're the famous Tartan Army
And we're here to save the whales.

Or elsewhere, ('She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain' again):

Well I hope it's multi storey when you jump
Well I hope it's multi storey when you jump
Well I hope it's multi storey, hope it's multi storey
Well I hope it's multi storey when you jump

Well I hope it's spiky railings when you land...

Well I hope it's Catholic doctors when you die...

A means of expressing disdain both for whoever you happen to be playing at the moment AND for your traditional enemy - let's say Scotland, because that's the example my friend gave - you sing the following to the tune of 'Bread of Heaven' when the opposition is playing badly:

Are you Scotland,
Are you Scotland,
Are you Scotland in disguise?
Are you Scotland in disguise?

The image that conjures up makes me laugh every time I think of it.

A friend of mine was at a game where both sides were rubbish. Near the end of the game, the winning fans (though not by much) sang at the opposition: 'Going down, going down, going down...' to the tune of 'Here we go'. To which the opposition replied: 'So are we, so are we, so are we...'

This one I found online, sung by Millwall in the 1993 League Coca-Cola Cup:

We drink Pepsi,
We drink Pepsi,
We drink Pepsi anyway,
We drink Pepsi anyway!

It doesn't say the tune, but I'm guessing 'Bread of Heaven' again. That would fit.

And for a particularly great song, sung against Arsenal, I gather, but flexible in its application (to the tune of 'Coming Round the Mountain' again):

I'll be running round Highbury with my willy hanging out
I'll be running round Highbury with my willy hanging out
I'll be running round Highbury, running round Highbury,
I'll be running round Highbury with my willy hanging out

Singing I've got a bigger one than you,
Singing I've got a bigger one than you...

And so on. I think it's the use of the word 'willy' that makes it. None of your 'rock out with your cock out' bluster here: no, it's a willy, everybody is four, and all is well with the world. A dazzling piece of silly triumphalism.

I'd also, to conclude, like to introduce a piece of graffitti that my brother saw in a lift and memorised, which in its way is a masterpiece:

Harold is a wanker
He wears a wanker's hat
He thinks he's fucking Beckham
But he's a fucking twat

(If you don't know the Cockney music-hall song 'My old man's a dustman, he wears a dustman's hat...' the second line might be a little unexpected.) But it's inspired. It makes a complete case. Break down the lines: 1. Statement. 2. Substantiation. 3. Counterpoint. 4. Refutation and conclusion. He's a wanker, right down to his hat, he thinks he's great, but he's not! I have to say, I'm finding against the luckless Harold based on that poem.

Who here has some grassroots art to share?

Thanks for these chants Kit: I just got my second publisher rejection, and now, while seething at this publisher's particular blindness in not knowing The Next Big Thing when comes along and bites her on the nose, I can put her name in these chants and sing them out loud for the rest of the day...

Cheers, you're a pal!
My home town's team chant usually went:
Woking Woking!
Boing Boing!
Woking Woking!
Boing Boing!


I'm not entirely sure what that indicated. But it was fun to sing while pogoing.
Oh, too bad, Chris. Hang in there.

Here's another chant to cheer you up: to the tune of 'When the Saints Go Marching In', and sung apropos of small football grounds...

My garden shed
Is bigger than this
My garden shed is bigger than this
It's got a door and a window
My garden shed is bigger than this!

Or possibly just the following (referring to you as Chris Writer because I don't know your surname, but you can amend as needed):

One Chris Writer!
There's only one Chris Writer!

Oh now, there you see? You've put a big smile right on my ugly mug - thanks!

I was always fond of subversive versions of carols, myself. Like this one:

While shepherds washed their socks by night
All seated round the tub
A bar of Sunlight Soap came down
And gave them all a scrub.

And Happy Birthday:

Happy Birthday to you
Squashed tomatoes and stew
I saw a wise monkey
And thought it was you!

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