Monday, July 18, 2011

Being Made To Endure, Public Wrath In A Sewer

Many of you might recall that wonderful song from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, the Mikado, the chorus of which goes as follows:

"My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time
To let the punishment fit the crime
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment
Of innocent merriment"

The verses give delightful examples of how this system of retributive justice would work. For example:

"All prosy dull society sinners,
Who chatter and bleat and bore,
Are sent to hear sermons
From mystical Germans
Who preach from ten till four.
The amateur tenor, whose vocal villainies
All desire to shirk,
Shall during off-hours,
Exhibit his powers
To Madame Tussaud's waxwork"

I am not sure whether people from outside the United Kingdom appreciate the political storm which is sweeping through this country at the moment. We are seeing media moguls fall, once-powerful editors being arrested and leading public figures resign with astonishing rapidity. Each morning, most people in this country turn on their radio or television, not to check the weather or the traffic jams, but to see who has fallen overnight. With this in mind, I have decided to write a new verse to the Mikado's song. It goes as follows:

"The newspaper owners and editors too,
Who have hacked off the public for years
Are made to endure,
Public wrath in a sewer,
Whilst hanging from the roof by their ears.
The slimy politicians who cower and beg,
At their feet to get a good press,
All have to stand,
With cap in hand,
Whilst their sins they have to confess"

All together now .... "My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time, to let the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime ......."

One of the best things about blogging is that it becomes an interactive experience, where the blog-post is merely the opening statement in what, with luck, becomes a fascinating conversation. There can be few better examples of this than my post for Sepia Saturday about my Uncle Wilf at the seaside. Within hours of the post going up, the image had been examined, investigated and interpreted by people from throughout the world. I had been told that Wilf was a part-time bookmaker, that Frank Randle was possibly appearing at the concert on the pier in the background, that Amy's skirt was probably post-war, and that - based upon the number of studs on the wheel of the truck - it was definitely pre-1960. Thanks to everyone for joining in and for making this form of collective analysis so thoroughly enjoyable,


  1. Brilliant Alan! I know and love The Mikado well-enough to be able to sing your extra verse as I read it. There must have been a fair amount of corruption when G&S were writing it; wasn’t it Pooh Bah who was 'a dealer in state secrets’? The picture is worthy of Sepia Saturday and would have made a great prompt.

  2. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Thank you for your visit to see Lily.

  3. One wonders who the next Commissioner of the Met will be; it seems to be a poisoned chalice with the holder destined to resign after a couple of years in the job.

  4. Well done, Alan! I adore Gilbert and Sullivan and, heaven knows, they'd have plenty to write about today.

  5. You know, looked at from that perspective Rupert Murdoch's fall would make a perfect Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera. It's too bad that Sir William and Sir Arthur aren't around any more to shine their absurdist light on the ultimate absurd collection of public figures.

  6. I think your efforts warrant several curtain calls, Alan. Interesting to see fewer top names treading the boards these days, being forced to walk the plank instead!

  7. Monty Python! Perfect new subject for a film. I love that in the UK you have a Serious Fraud Department. Here, we call it the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  8. Made my day with this, Alan! Well done! I adore G & S - especially, "The Mikado" and also, Mike Leigh's film, "Topsy Turvy".
    I must admit, I'm partial to the "As Some Day It May Happen/Little List" song.


  9. It is all getting very much like a (soap) opera here! One wonders what can possibly happen next....

  10. Interesting to see how the 'update' item draws in comment and analysis; obviously some keen bloggers out there.
    As to the uk 'opera' which is ongoing ..........

  11. Have watched quite a bit of the UK news and the prominent story swirling there!

  12. One wonders who was covering their backs by arresting Rebekah Brooks just days before her 'appointment' with the Parliamentary commission. This becomes more intriguing by the day. The ones I feel sorry for are the innocents caught up in the firing line.

  13. I do not begin to understand the news..but it sounds like you had some scoundrels and they will get what is coming to them:)

  14. Ah, another Gilbert and Sullivan earworm.

  15. Bravo, Alan! A superb verse for the ever-changing situation. I can remember when RM became a household name here, surpassing Ted Turner as The Network Mogul to watch. It was most surprising how quickly his empire grew. I think G & S would be pleased with your addition to their song!

  16. Sadly, I fear that RM has skilfully avoided being anywhere near a petard by which he might be hoist, and will never receive the deserts to which he is truly entitled.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...