Friday, 7 December 2007

Complex complex

"I'm not tempted to write a song about George W. Bush. I couldn't figure out what sort of song I would write. That's the problem: I don't want to satirise George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporise them." (Tom Lehrer interviewed in 2003)

On a couple of occasions recently, the great (and I use the term advisedly) Tom Lehrer has been on my mind, though I'm sure he will never go that far away from it.

First, I had sung his marvellous Christmas Carol - oddly, and I don't know why - on the occasion of England's ignominous defeat to Croatia. Then I was standing outside Waitrose to catch the bus home, when the song popped into my head again, this time perhaps more logically prompted by the mountains of boxes and tins of Christmas stuff all over the place. The rhyming of Dickens and sickens is enough for me.

Then, just yesterday, after finding the picture of Sophocles to head up the post on Anne Atkins, naturally his brilliant Oedipus Rex began a relentless onslaught on my brain's music retention centre. I don't mind. I play a game to see if I can remember all the lines, and don't usually do too badly:

"So be sweet and kind to mother, now and then have a chat
Buy her candy or some flowers, or a nice new hat.
But maybe you had better let it go at that...
Or you might find yourself with a quite complex complex,
You may end up like old Oedipus -
I'd rather marry a duck-billed platypus -
Than end up like old Oedipus Rex"

In any case, all hail the mighty Tom (who will be 80 next April) Long may he reign.

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