Thursday, 19 November 2009

Out there still, there are the eggmen

Four doors down, someone often flings his windows open late at night or in the early hours and plays I am the Walrus, repeatedly and very loudly.
You know the song?
Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob

It doesn’t really bother me. The nights have got cold, so now we have our doors and windows shut. And anyway, after about half an hour a nearer neighbour starts shouting obscenities in such a rage that the broadcast stops.
Before that, as the Walrus chugs along with the velocity and resonance of an old steam locomotive, I tick off various background choruses: “oompah, oompah, stick it up your jumper,” which my Dublin grandmother would have recognised, and “smoke pot, smoke pot, everybody smoke pot,” which she wouldn’t. These were added by an easy-listening group of the time called the Mike Sammes singers, which is rather akin to Julie Andrews providing soprano whoops for Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious on Anarchy in the UK.
Boxing Day evening, 1967, 8:35. I am the Walrus is one song featured in the latest Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour, shot in colour and premiered in black and white by the BBC across one-set UK households. There’s nowhere to hide from overindulged adults grunting “what is this rubbish?” For once, you feel pretty defenceless. The Tour (more of a meander, truth to tell) is an effort to enjoy and you sense something ending.
All the other original songs in the film – Fool on the Hill, Flying, Blue Jay Way, Your Mother Should Know and even the title track – have more or less gone under the sand.
But night after night, 42 years later, courtesy of the man down the road (I just assume he must be a man), Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starr and the Mike Sammes singers are belting and bellowing out I am the Walrus again and again.
How has the Walrus got its (so far) tiny tusk-hold on eternity? I trek into the web and get lost for longer than I planned in a labyrinth of fan sites.
If you have Windows XP, go play this song on your sound recorder and play it til the line “See how they smile like pigs in a sty see how they snide” and right after it ends stop it and play it backwards and listen real closely to what is heard. I heard John say, “Take this axe and his life is going out tonight.” I am serious! Try it out for yourself to hear it!
Also during the line “If the sun don’t come then you'll get a tan from the English rain” I heard something but can’t remember what...
Also, during the line “Climbing up the Eiffel Tower” backwards I heard the most creepy thing yet, “I smoke marijuana.”!!!!!! You have to really pay close attention to get the word “marijuana” so it sounds like it...

What does this writer do for a living? air traffic controller, possibly? bank clerk? software developer?
While I was trying to sharpen up the stabs at satire here, my son asked if I’d help with his art homework by taking him to the Estorick Collection.
This is a small art gallery in North London featuring paintings, drawings, etchings and ceramics by Italian artists of the first half of the twentieth century – people like Giorgio de Chirico, Mario Sironi and Giorgio Morandi.
And among them, I discover, are works by the self-styled metaphysicals, the proto-surrealists, forerunners of Dali and Magritte, where normal expectations are subverted.
De Chirico – that’s one of his paintings at the head of this – wrote:
“To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the regions of childhood vision and dream.”
Semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna.
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob...

But hey, maybe not at two in the morning? Leave me to my own dreams, perchance...

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