If you’ve seen us live over the past year you may well have heard this story and, depending on the occasion, you would have been part of a crowd which laughed heartily along or alternatively listened to the tumbleweed blowing through the venue once I’d finished. It’s the way I tell ’em I guess but here goes:
Imagine it’s the run up to Christmas and you are in London’s busy West End. Regent Street to be exact and you are there Christmas shopping with your wife and daughter in a wide variety of clothes shops. These shops have an extensive range of clothes and nick nacks, each of which the female contingent of the family firmly believe requires detailed examination, debate as to the relative merits, and trying on. It takes many, many, many, many hours and is a fantastic, life affirming experience.
In fact a study of men and women shopping together https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/out-the-darkness/201402/why-men-dont-shopping-and-most-women-do has found that it takes men 26 minutes to reach terminal boredom levels, that half of all such trips end in arguments, which is probably why 45% of men refuse point blank to ever go shopping with their wives.
We were well past the 26 minute mark and signs of stress were showing on my face when, on a little detour into Soho’s Kingly Street, while I stood outside an establishment called “Brandy Melville” (which claims the mouth watering prospect of being a “Hip retailer selling trendy fashions & accessories aimed at young women”) I spotted a pub with a large sign shouting: “Live Premier League Football”. I stared at it wistfully, imagining the delights of a cold pint while watching “Liverpool vs Manchester United” and working out which I wanted to lose the most.
“Oh go on then”, said a voice at my shoulder. Not for the first or last time the wife had read my mind. Perhaps I’m hopelessly transparent but it’s uncanny how women do that.
So in I went, ordered a tangy pint of Beavertown’s Neck Oil (try it -delicious. From the brewery set up by Robert Plant’s nephew, not that it has anything to do with anything) and perched myself at the bar, eyes fixed on the screen, having decided I like the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and since they are also my brother’s team, that is who I would root for.
“It could all end next week you know?”, said a voice to my left. I hadn’t noticed but a man, mid fifties, bit of a stranger to any bars of soap he kept at home, long hair, and worn clothes, had positioned himself next to me and was avoiding the barman’s eye.
“Football or the whole world?”, I enquired, being a stickler for fine detail. “The whole world”, he replied, “could all go up in smoke when you look at who’s in charge. Nutters the lot of them”. He did tell me his name but, as you’ll learn from the song which is the point of this narrative, I’ve forgotten it.
“Yes indeed”, I concurred, “There are enough shifty, self centered, lying, bastards in charge of enough countries for the whole thing to go pop next week”.
My concurrence gave Mr Memorable a bit of a start, clearly not being used to people agreeing with him, and a certain look of optimism appeared as a glint in his eye. “And you can’t take it with you, you know” he ventured, building on the theme.
“No. That is true. When the end comes, rich and poor alike will be left with not a penny to their name in whatever afterlife turns out to be real”, I agreed.
“You might as well buy me a pint then” was his conclusion as we stood there, eye to eye, with me contemplating how the conversation had accelerated from nought to financial demand in less than 15 seconds.
But hey, it was nearly Christmas, it was cold outside, the man didn’t appear to have a drink problem (apart from not having one) and clearly wasn’t wasting money on life’s luxuries so, what the hell. “Try this. It’s brewed by Robert Plant’s nephew” I said passing a freshly bought pint. “Not that it has anything to do with anything”.
As I was contemplating the episode the following day and realising that, like I do with nearly everybody in the world, I had forgotten my fleeting companion’s name, the line came into my head: “I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget What’s his Name” which made me chuckle. I was also pretty sure I was onto a good thing as the episode was a variation on a theme dear to my heart, encapsulated in Ecclesiastes 8:15 I’ve since discovered: “So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun” And there I was, having no idea I was living my life by religious principles. It’s a theme you’ll find in “C’est La Vie” for instance although the detail of this episode is closer to, Isiah 22:13 which says “Eat, Drink and be Merry for tomorrow we die”. My friend, Jim the Vicar would be proud of me (and there’s a story for another day of the man of the cloth I first met in a bar in Spain, pint in each hand and cigarette in his mouth).
I thought I’d have fun with the lyrics by collating metaphors for that conversation with Mr Memorable about, not being on the point of kicking the bucket (a marvellous metaphor in itself relating to the utensil hung men would inadvertently kick once the hangman had dropped the lever), but in that period just before. So we have “The fat lady’s ready to sing” and it’ll be over after she does, “the ref is playing extra time” or time added on as it is far less efficiently now known for no good reason, the period just before the end of a game of football which the referee adds on to make up for time lost when players are injured and the game is held up while they receive treatment. And “Is this the final chorus or still the middle 8” I ask meaning are we in the middle of the song or near the end. “For all we know Nelson’s asked for one last kiss” which is what the English naval Captain requested of his male friend Hardy just before he died from a gunshot wound.
And the most obscure: “Meg and Tom have finally met” which is where the headline photo of this blog makes it’s entrance. In the film “Sleepless in Seatle” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleepless_in_Seattle Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan spend the whole film narrowly missing each other. Minutes before the end they finally meet, fall in love and film is over.
This is a song we had already played umpteen times live before recording it and you can tell from the great guitar and drum work. A song which gets us bouncing and smiling mid set. I thoroughly recommend you give it a listen, either here if you have Spotify:
Here on Bandcamp if you want to download it: https://duncanreidandthebigheads.bandcamp.com/track/for-all-we-know
or here via those thieving cheapskates at YouTube (although it helps not to skip the ad) if you’ve no other option:
Hope you enjoy it. I do.