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The Revenge of 1812 On:2008-07-31 16:49:29

Just for the record let me state, right off the bat, the little-known fact that we (i.e. the British) won the War of 1812 .

This is clear to anyone who is at all familiar with the Treaty of Ghent1---however, since that nice Mr. Gore didn't manage to push through the legislation that set up the funding that got the internet going in time for the end of that war, and since inertia is what it is; the penultimate battle of that war, and a victory for the United States at New Orleans, was actually fought in 1815, after the war had ended (which sets me a-thinking about the bad loser who knocks the Monopoly board on the floor, or throws his king at the winner---though I'm not sure why).

It goes without saying that the actual last battle (at Fort Bowyer near Mobile) was of course a British victory, if a slight one---but as I say no one mentions it, I suspect, largely because of the embarrassment the participants felt when they finally figured out that the last two battles hadn't even been played in overtime and so didn't count.
However, that New Orleans victory has always left you feeling rather more smug about that war than you rightly should.
Anyway, moving right along, in 1959, Lonnie Donegan, the famous British Skiffle performer, (of such unforgettable2 hits as 'My Old Man's a Dustman'3 and the British version of 'Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Over Night'4 ) brought out, on the PYE label, a song about the Battle Of New Orleans which contained such lines as:
'We took a little bacon and we took a little beans,
"And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans."
See! It has rhymes and mild swear words and everything, and even has a refrain that goes:
"We fired our guns and the British kept a'comin.
"There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago.
"We fired once more and they began to runnin'
"On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico!"
that last little dig being, as far as I can tell, a gross calumny.
This song actually reached Number One in the charts in England in 1960 being one of the most popular records of that year, thus destroying at a stroke any historical awareness cred that the nation might have had (not to mention any reputation for being at all musical).

And now, coming right down to the present, and to finally balance the score for the War of 1812, and to get revenge on America for the Battle of New Orleans, or maybe on the British for Fort Bowyer, and certainly on Mr. Donegan for that awful song, I've decided it's about time I became an American. (And anyway time being what it is, it's suddenly passed and almost half my past has now been ...um passed over here.) And I've got all the forms, and I'm steeling myself to cough up the nearly eight hundred bucks it costs to do it, and I'm getting ready to bone up on your rather weird version of your own history for the tests, but now I have pause (and possible cold feet). You see, while getting your language is going to be the hardest part, what makes me really nervous about the whole thing is that when I get to the interview I'm almost certainly bound to get all flustered and to end up making some untoward crack about the War of 1812, or a joke about White House bonfires, and they'll boot me out, possibly using an actual boot.

Oh yes, and my other source of nervousness is the lurking dire consequences if anyone in authority hears or sees even one of these essays, but with luck it should all be completed well before any of you think to point them out, or to send the URL of my site, to those folk down at Citizenship and Naturalization Services.
Mah fellow Mer...
Maah Fellow...   
Maaaaah...
There will be no whitewash at...
Ach! Nah! I'll just forget the language requirement and hope that they do too...

Cheerio for now
from
Richard Howland-Bolton





Notes:

1 Most authorities actually think of it as more of a draw since things did end up in statu quo res erant ante bellum. But if you, say, compare our football with yours, or baseball with cricket, and then consider how much Americans hate draws and how much the British love them, you can then draw (ha, ha) your own conclusions about who really, really won.

2 I know, I've tried.


3 MY OLD MAN'S A DUSTMAN - 31/03/1960
(4 weeks at #1 - 13 weeks on chart)

Now here's a little story
To tell it is a must
About an unsung hero
That moves away the dust

Some people make a fortune
Others earn a mint
My old man don't earn much
In fact he's bloomin' skint

Oh my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat
He looks a proper 'nana
In his great big hob nailed boots
He's got such a job to pull 'em up
That he calls 'em daisy roots

Some folks give tips at Christmas
And some of them forget
So when he picks their bins up
He spills some on the step
Now one old man got nasty
And to the council wrote
Next time my old man went round there
He punched him up the throat

Oh my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat

I say, I say Les
(Yeah)
I found a police dog in my dustbin
(How do you know it was a police dog)
He had a policeman with him

Though my old mans a dustman
He's got an 'art of gold
He got married recently
Though he's 86 years old
We said 'ere hang on dad
You're getting past your prime
He said "Well when you get my age
It 'elps to pass the time."

Oh my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat

I say I say I say
My dustbin's full of lilies
(Well throw'em away then)
I can't lily's wearing 'em

Now one day whilst in a hurry
He missed a ladies bin
He hadn't gone but a few yards
When she chased after him
"What game d'you think you're playing
She cried right from the 'art?
You've missed me am I too late"
Nah jump up on the cart

 

Oh my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat

I say I say I say
(Not you again)
My dustbin's absolutely full with toadstools
(How d'you know it's full)
Cuz there's not mushroom inside

He found a tiger's head one day
Nailed to a piece of wood
The tiger looked quite miserable
But I suppose he should
Just then from out the window
A voice began to wail
He said "Oy where's me tigers head?"
---Four feet from his tail

Oh my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat

Next time you see a dustman
Looking all pale and sad
Don't kick him in the dustbin
It might me my old dad.

 



4 DOES YOUR CHEWING GUM LOSE ITS FLAVOUR

Oh-me, oh-my, oh-you
Whatever shall I do
Hallelujah, the question is peculiar
I'd give a lot of dough
If only I could know
The answer to my question
Is it yes or is it no

Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight?
If your mother says don't chew it
Do you swallow it in spite
Can you catch it on your tonsils
Can you heave it left and right
Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight

Here comes a blushing bride
The groom is by her side
Up to the altar
Just as steady as Gibraltar
Why, the groom has got the ring
And it's such a pretty thing
But as he slips it on her finger
The choir begins to sing

 

Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight
If your mother says don't chew it
Do you swallow it in spite
Can you catch it on your tonsils
Can you heave it left and right
Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight

Now the nation rise as one
To send their only son
Up to the White House
Yes, the nation's only White House
To voice their discontent
Unto the Pres-I-dent
They pawn the burning question
What has swept this continent

[Lonnie speaks:]
If tin whistles are made of tin
What do they make fog horns out of
Boom, boom

Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight
If your mother says don't chew it
Do you swallow it in spite
Can you catch it on your tonsils
Can you heave it left and right
Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight

On the bedpost overnight

[Man:]
Hello there, I love you and the one who holds you tight

[Lonnie:]
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday, Sat'day night

On the bedpost overnight

[Man:]
A dollar is a dollar and a dime is a dime

[Lonnie:]
He's singin' out the chorus
But he hasn't got the time

On the bedpost overnight, yeah



BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS

In 1814 we took a little trip
along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.

We fired our guns and the British kept a'comin.
There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnin' on
down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

etc. etc. ...

Music and lyrics by Jimmy Driftwood




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