Victim Of Geography


22nd November 1993
Double album compilation of 'Talking With The Taxman' and 'Workers Playtime'.
Cooking Vinyl COOK 061
Number of discs: 2

Talking With The Taxman About Poetry

Shirley,
it’s quite exciting to be sleeping here in this new room
Shirley,
you’re my reason to get out of bed before noon
Shirley,
you know when we sat out on the fire escape talking
Shirley,
what did you say about running before we were walking

Sometimes when we’re as close as this
It’s like we’re in a dream
How can you lie there and think of England
When you don’t even know who’s in the team

Shirley,
your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle
Shirley,
we are joined in the ideological cuddle

I’m celebrating my love for you
With a pint of beer and a new tattoo
And if you haven’t noticed yet
I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet

Politics and pregnancy
Are debated as we empty our glasses
And how I love those evening classes

Shirley,
you really know how to make a young man angry
Shirley,
can we get through the night without mentioning family

The people from your church agree
It’s not much of a career
Trying the handles of parked cars
Whoops, there goes another year
Whoops, there goes another pint of beer

Here we are in our summer years
Living on icecream and chocolate kisses
Would the leaves fall from the trees
If I was your old man and you were my missus

Shirley,
give my greetings to the new brunette

Sorry but no lyrics are available for this song.

I understand you needing
And wanting is no crime
But I can’t help feeling
That you and your mother are just wasting your time

Choosing Saturdays in Summer
I dare you to wear white
Love is just a moment of giving
And marriage is when we admit our parents were right

I just don’t understand it
What makes our love a sin
How can it make that difference
If you and I are wearing that bloody, bloody ring

If I share my bed with you
Must I also share my life
Love is just a moment of giving
And marriage is when we admit our parents were right

You just don’t understnd it
This tender trap we’re in
Those glossy catalogues of couples
Are cashing in on happiness again and again

So drag me to the altar
And I’ll make my sacrifice
Love is just a moment of giving
And marriage is when we admit our parents were right
And marriage is when we admit our parents were probably right

When one voice rules the nation
Just because they’re on top of the pile
Doesn’t mean their vision is the clearest
The voices of the people
Are falling on deaf ears
Our politicians all become careerists
They must declare their interests
But not their company cars
Is there more to a seat in parliament
Then sitting on your arse
And the best of all this bad bunch
Are shouting to be heard
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

Outside the patient millions
Who put them into power
Expect a little more back for their taxes
Like school books, beds in hospitals
And peace in our bloody time
All they get is old men grinding axes
Who’ve built their private fortunes
On the things they can rely
The courts, the secret handshake
The Stock Exchange and the old school tie
For God and Queen and Country
All things they justify
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

God bless the civil service
The nations saving grace
While we expect democracy
They’re laughing in our face
And although our cries get louder
Their laughter gets louder still
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

With the money from her accident
She bought herself a mobile home
So at least she could get some enjoyment
Out of being alone
No one could say that she was left up on the shelf
It’s you and me against the World kid she mumbled to herself

CHORUS:
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs’ tears run down his face

She ran away from home on her mother’s best coat
She was married before she was even entitled to vote
And her husband was one of those blokes
The sort that only laughs at his own jokes
The sort a war takes away
And when there wasn’t a war he left anyway

Norman Whitfield and Barratt Strong
Are here to make everything right that’s wrong
Holland and Holland and Lamont Dozier too
Are here to make it all okay with you

One dark night he came home from the sea
And put a hole in her body where no hole should be
It hurt her more to see him walking out the door
And though they stitched her back together they left her heart in pieces on the floor

When the world falls apart some things stay in place
She takes off the Four Tops tape and puts it back in its case
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs’ tears…

I can see the kitchen light
From the road where I park my bike
But it’s dark there as it often is these days
And the gloomy living room
Really needs a dust and a broom
But I can’t brush your memory away

Her father was an admiral
In someone else’s navy
And she had seen the World before I met her
She would wash and cook and clean
And all the other things between
And like a fool I just sat there and let her

CHORUS:
Now I can feed and wash and dress myself
And I can sleep without the light on
Honey, I’m a big boy now
I don’t know what she does With all the money that I sent her
She’s running round the town with the Young Pretender

I haven’t touched the garden
Since the day she walked away
From a love affair that bore only bitter fruit
She took everything she wanted
Which is why she left me here
With these pots and pans and my old wedding suit

A letter came one morning
That she would not let me see
And from that day I began to realise
That she would one day break
The home we tried to make
For sinners cannot live in paradise

There is power in a factory, power in the land
Power in the hands of a worker
But it all amounts to nothing if together we don’t stand There is power in a Union

Now the lessons of the past were all learned with workers’ blood
The mistakes of the bosses we must pay for
From the cities and the farmlands to trenches full of mud
War has always been the bosses’ way, sir

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and out sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a Union

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us
But who’ll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackies out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a Union

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and out sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a Union.

Help save the youth of America
Help save them from themselves
Help save the sun-tanned surfer boys
And the Californian girls

When the lights go out in the rest of the World
What do our cousins say
They’re playing in the sun and having fun, fun, fun
Till Daddy takes the gun away

From the Big Church to the Big River
And out to the Shining Sea
This is the Land of Opportunity
And there’s a Monkey Trial on TV

A nation with their freezers full
Are dancing in their seats
While outside another nation
Is sleeping in the streets

Don’t tell me the old, old story
Tell me the truth this time
Is the Man in the Mask or the Indian
An enemy or a friend of mine

Help save the youth of America
Help save the youth of the world
Help save the boys in uniform
Their mothers and their faithful girls

Listen to the voice of the soldier
Down in the killing zone
Talking about the cost of living
And the price of bringing him home

They’re already shipping the body bags
Down by the Rio Grande
But you can fight for democracy at home
And not in some foreign land

And the fate of the great United States
Is entwined in the fate of us all
And the incident at Tschernobyl proves
The world we live in is very small

On Monday I wished it was Tuesday night
So I could wish for the weekend to come
On Tuesday I wished that the night would pass
So I could call you on the phone
Now a man can spend a lot of time
Wondering what was on Jack Ruby’s mind
And time is all I have without you here

On Wednesday when you hung up
It was as much as I could do
To stop from wishing Thursday
Would pass so quickly too
They’re out there making history
In the Lenin Shipyards today
And here I am in the Hammersmith Hotel
Wishing the days away

There’s always room for one more soul
Down in the Human Zoo
I don’t want you to come here though
I want to come home to you
Somebody’s knocking at the door
Its later than I think
And its time to put on these stinking clothes
And get out there and stink

On Friday I wished there was something more
To be seen in the letters you send
On Saturday I wished it was Sunday
Oh will this torment ever end
Sometimes I get a notion to put a torch
To the tools of my trade
Here I am in the Hammersmith Hotel
Wishing the days away

The fear of a daughter can run high
In the mind of a father to be
For something is growing inside
But we don’t talk about it, do we

In the long empty passionless night
Many times to herself she had prayed
That the baby will love her much more
Than the big boy who stole her away

chorus:
And sometimes it takes a grown man a long time to learn
Just what it would take a child a night to learn

It pains her to learn that some things will never be right
If the baby is just someone else to take sides in a fight
Harsh words between bride and groom
The distance is greater each day
He smokes alone in the next room
And she knits her life away

A long time ago she saw visions on the stairs
And when she felt dizzy her mother was always there
The home help is no help at all I have not committed a crime
Angels gaze down from the wall
Is there a God, Is there a next time

A rainy afternoon
Spent in the warmest room
She lay before me and said
Yes it’s true that I have seen some naked men
As she made for the door
Leaving me on the floor
I wish I’d done biology
For an urge within me wanted to do it then

Chorus:
And here she comes again
And I’m sitting on my hands
And she sings to me that siren song
Here she comes again and I’m biting my lip
But it won’t be long

As Brother Barry said
As he married Marion
The wife has three great attributes
Intelligence, a Swiss army knife and charm
But that’s not enough sometimes
And she did speak her mind
And told them all that she believed
The only way to disarm is to disarm

I know people whose idea of fun
Is throwing stones in the river in the afternoon sun
Oh let me be as free as them
Don’t let her pass this way again
Though you cannot be blamed
But I’ve become inflamed
With thoughts of lust and thoughts of power
Thoughts of love and thoughts of Chairman Mao
We have such little time
At your place or mine
I can’t wait till we take our blood tests
Oh baby let’s take our blood tests now

Father mows the lawn and Mother peels the potatoes
Grandma lays the table alone
And adjusts a photograph of the unknown soldier
In this Holy of Holies, the Home
And from the TV an unwatched voice
Suggests the answer is to plant more trees
The scrawl on the wall says what about the workers
And the voice of the people says more salt please

Mother shakes her head and reads aloud from the newspaper
As Father puts another lock on the door
And reflects upon the violent times that we are living in
While chatting with the wife beater next door
If paradise to you is cheap beer and overtime
Home truths are easily missed
Something that every football fan knows
It only takes five fingers to form a fist

And when it rains here it rains so hard
But never hard enough to wash away the sorrow
I’ll trade my love today for a greater love tomorrow
The lonely child looks out and dreams of independence
From this family life sentence

Mother sees but does not read the peeling posters
And can’t believe that there’s a world to be won
But in the public schools and in the public houses
The Battle of Britain goes on
The constant promise of jam tomorrow
Is the New Breed’s litany and verse
If it takes another war to fill the churches of England
Then the world the meek inherit, what will it be worth

Mother fights the tears and Father, his sense of outrage
And attempts to justify the sacrifice
To pass their creed down to another generation
‘Anything for the quiet life’
In the Land of a Thousand Doses
Where nostalgia is the opium of the age
Our place in History is as
clock watchers, old timers, window shoppers

Workers Playtime

What is that sound
Where is it coming from
All around
What are you running from
Something you don’t understand
Something you cannot command

Chorus:
That’s how I know
She’s got a new spell
Yes, that’s how I know
That she’s got a new spell

What’s going down
Who’s moved this room from round me
Where has it gone
I fear this night will drown me
So I lie awake all night
‘Cos I can’t sleep with something I can’t fight

The laws of gravity are very, very strict
And you’re just bending them for your own benefit

One minute she says
She’s gone to get the cat in
The next thing I know
She’s mumbling in Latin
She cut the stars out of the sky
And baked them in a pie

She stole the scene and scenery
The script and the machinery

It’s bad timing and me
We find a lot of things out this way
And there’s you
A little black cloud in a dress
The temptation
To take the precious things we have apart
To see how they work
Must be resisted for they never fit together again
If this is rain let it fall on me and drown me
If these are tears let them fall

Chorus:
Must I paint you a picture
About the way that I feel
You know my love for you is strong, girl
You know my love for you is real

It took a short walk and a talk
To change the rules of engagement
While you searched frantically for reverse and them claiming
That virtue never tested is no virtue at all
And so I lost my ignorance
And now the bells across the river chime out your name
I look across to them again

All your friends said come down
It will never fly
And on that imperfect day
We threw it all away
Crisis after crisis, with such intensity
This would never happen if we lived by the sea

Most important decisions in life
Are made between two people in bed
I found that out at my expense
And when I see you
You just turn around and walk away like we never met
Oh we used to be so brave
I dreamt the world stopped turning as we climbed the hill
I dreamt impossible dreams that we were lovers still

What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade
When we lay down our weary guns
When we return home to our wives and families
And look into the eyes of our sons
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade
Will you say that we were brave
As the shells fell all around us
Or that we wept and cried for our mothers
And cursed our fathers
For forgetting that all men are brothers

Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away
And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love

Brothers in arms in each other arms
Was the only time that I was not afraid
What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade
When we cast off these khaki clothes
And go our separate ways
What will you say of the bond we had
Tender comrade

My friend said she could see no way ahead
And I was probably better off without you
She said to face up to the fact that you weren’t coming back
And she could make me happy like you used to
But I’m sorry to say I turned her away
Knowing everything she said was true
And that’s the price I pay for loving you the way that I do

There’s something inside that hurts my foolish pride
To visit the places we used to go together
Not a day goes by that I don’t sit and wonder why
Your feelings for me didn’t last forever
Girl I love you so much that sometimes it’s such
I’d walk a mile with a stone in my shoe
And that’s the price I pay for loving you the way that I do
That’s the price I pay for loving you the way that I do

So keep that phone out of my way for the things I must say
Are empty if you don’t believe they’re true
And that’s the price I pay for loving you the way that I do
That’s the price I pay for loving you the way that I do

I love you so much that baby it’s such
I’d walk a mile with a stone in my shoe
And that’s the price I pay for loving you the way that I do

One of them’s off her food
And the other one’s off his head
And both of them are off down the boozer
To drink a toast
To the one that he hates most
And she says there are no winners, only losers

Well if there are no winners
Then what is this he thinks
As he watches her complete a lap of honour
And he sits in the stands With his head in his hands
And he thinks of all the things
He’d like to bring down upon her

Revenge will bring cold comfort in this darkest hour
As the juke box says ‘It’s All Over Now’
And he stands and he screams
What have I done wrong
I’ve fallen in love with a little time bomb

In public he’s such a man
He’s punching at the walls with his bare and bloody hands
He’s screaming and shouting and acting crazy
But at home he sits alone and he cries like a baby

He holds your letters but he can’t read them
As he fights this loneliness that you call freedom
You said this would happen and you were not wrong
I’ve fallen in love with a little time bomb

I stood before the Judge that day
As he refused me bail
And I knew that I would spend my time
Awaiting trial in jail
I said there is no justice
As they led me out of the door
And the Judge said, “This isn’t a court of justice, son
This is a court of law.”

They first sent me to Windsor
And then to Stoke on Trent
In a holding cell in Liverpool
Three days and nights I spent
My solicitor can’t find me
And my family don’t know
I keep telling them that I’m innocent
They just say, “Come on son, in you go.”

I was picked up on suspicion of something I haven’t done
Here I sit in ‘F’ wing waiting for my trial to come
It’s a cruel unusual punishment that society demands
Innocent till proven guilty, rotting on remand

I ended up in this jail
Built in 1882
When one man to one prison cell
Was a Victorian value
Now three of us are squeezed in here
And you can’t escape the smell
Of that bucket in the corner
And we eat in here as well

They let me out of this cage
To slop that bucket out
To get my food and bring it back
And if I’m lucky, get a shower
Apart from one hour’s exercise
I’m locked in here all day
You don’t turn criminals into citizens
By treating them this way

Is the price of law and order the stench of Wormwood Scrubs
With judges quick to sentence more down from above
It’s a cruel unusual punishment that society demands
Innocent till proven guilty, rotting on reman

Some day boy you’ll reap what you’ve sown
You’ll catch a cold and you’ll be on your own
And you will see that what’s wrong with me
Is wrong with everyone that
You want to play your little games on

Poetry and flowers pretty words and threats
You’ve gone to the dogs again and I’m not placing bets
On you coming home tonight anything but blind
If you take me for granted then you must expect to find
Surprise, surprise

Valentine’s Day is over, it’s over
Valentine’s Day is over

If you want to talk about it well you know where the phone is
Don’t come round reminding me again how brittle bone is
God didn’t make you an angel the Devil made you a man
That brutality and economy are related now I understand
When will you realise that as above so below there is no love

For the girl with the hour glass figure
Time runs out very fast
We used to want the same things but that’s all in the past
And lately it seems that as it all gets tougher
Your ideal of justice just becomes rougher and rougher

Thank you for the things you bought me thank you for the card
Thank you for the things you taught me when you hit me hard
That love between two people must be based on understanding
Until that’s true you’ll find your things
All stacked out on the landing, surprise, surprise

I hate the arsehole I become
Every time I’m with you
You know you’ve got me on the run
But let me make it clear to you
It’s taken two fools such as we
To make love deaf, dumb and blind
Now you’re upset ‘cos I can’t read your mind love
You’re upset Cos I can’t read your mind

I hate the arsehole I become
Every time I’m with you
I get the feeling looking in your eyes
That somehow I should forgive you
I know that I’m guilty but I don’t know what I’ve done
You’re not about to let me join in the fun are you
You’re not about to let me join in the fun

I hate the arsehole I become
Every time I’m with you
I hate the way you try to give me back
All the things I give to you
I know when I leave the room
They say what’s up with him
But love is not a game you play to win girl
Love is not a game you play to win

If that face of yours could only talk
The stories it could tell
The chase is always better than the kill, love
The chase is always better than the kill

Sometimes when you lose your way to me
I think you don’t care at all
If you don’t get here soon
I’ll tear that clock down from the wall
Your family and friends don’t understand
They treat me so strange
The book you said to read
Well I have read but nothing’s changed

The clocks go forward the clocks go back
Yet here I sit as if I were the only one
And oh you cannot hear me
Oh you cannot hear me
Can anybody hear me out there

He’s up on his high horse again
You’re down in the park
I’m left to fight my impulses alone here in the dark
The chain that fell off my bike last night
Is now wrapped round my heart
Sometimes I think that
Fate has been against us from the start

I long to let our love run free
Yet here I am a victim of geography
And oh you cannot hear me
Oh you cannot hear me
Can anybody hear me out there

She said kiss me or would you rather
Live in a land where the soap won’t lather
And oh…
You know you are the only one
Yes you are the only one
Yes you are the only one

Between Marx and marzipan in the dictionary there was Mary
Between the Deep Blue Sea and the Devil that was me
If ever anyone could help me with my obsession with
The young Suzannah York
It was Mary

In my pink pyjamas she asked me for something
I gave her the short answer
She read our stars out loud
And I knew then that we should have gone sailing
But we stayed home instead
Fighting on the waterbed
Like the honeymoon couple on drugs
Me and Mary

What happened in the past
Remained a mystery of natural history
She should have been the last
But she was just the latest
If she wanted to be a farmer’s wife
I would endure that muddy life
I would dig for victory

And the sound of happy couples
Coupling happily in the dark
While you and I sat down to tea
I remember you said to me
That no amount of poetry
Would mend this broken heart
But you can put the Hoover round
If you want to make a start

All my friends from school
Introduce me to their spouses
While I’m left standing here
With my hands down the front of my trousers
I just don’t know what’s to be done
I wonder sometimes how did Dad meet Mum
And how did they conceive of me
Tell my Mary

The boys who came to the shop
Always made her laugh much more than I did
When I told her this must stop
She didn’t bat an eyelid
She said you know honey it’s such a shame
You’ll never be any good at this game
You bruise too easily
So said Mary

Her two brothers took me out
Of circulation for the duration
So we went our separate ways but does she still love me
She still has my door key
Like a bully boy in a Benetton shop
You’re never happy with what you’ve got
Till what you’ve got is gone
Sorry Mary

It may have been Camelot for Jack and Jacqueline
But on the Che Guevara highway filling up with gasoline
Fidel Castro’s brother spies a rich lady who’s crying
Over luxury’s disappointment
So he walks over and he’s trying
To sympathise with her but he thinks that he should warn her
That the Third World is just around the corner

In the Soviet Union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That Dr Robert Oppenheimer’s optimism fell
At the first hurdle

In the Cheese Pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of someone stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer

Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I’m looking for the Great Leap Forwards

Jumble sales are organised and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time there’s still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While you’re waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

One leap forward, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?

Here comes the future and you can’t run from it
If you’ve got a blacklist I want to be on it

It’s a mighty long way down rock ‘n roll
From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole

If no one seems to understand
Start your own revolution and cut out the middleman

In a perfect world we’d all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room

So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a T-shirt away
Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

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© Billy Bragg 2019