“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
– United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The Landlord had told me that things would likely be quiet, what with him and a few mates “getting away to the country”, worshipping mud or something like that, and the rest of us getting on with our weekends. I’d also heard about a bet made by a couple of posh lads down south, but that was of no importance. These boys made silly bets all the time.
Not to worry, all that nonsense should be done and dusted when I emerged from my work blinkers on Friday afternoon.
I headed down to the bar with some friends, found the jukebox and started out with a couple of old favourites:
Some younger folks took over, adding a couple of tunes I’d not heard before (“They’ve got a good beat” I agreed with my equally decrepit colleagues, before trying to make an effort not to sound too much like a high court judge).
Talk inevitably turned to sport and happy days spent playing the game:
And those terrible television programmes of our collective youth:
Then, a silence as the events of the previous 24 hours began to sink in. Hindsight, that friend of all saloon bar philosophers, kicked in:
Gallows humour, without the humour, seemed the only appropriate response:
Then, reasoned argument as to what it all meant to the likes of us and ours. Would we need to call up the militia? Would the taps run dry? Answer the second question first.
Then the band in the corner silenced all conversation. Man, they could play! My Spanish is, er, rusty, but think they called this “without walls or shackles”:
As our convocation dispersed, one and all agreed: no more would we be subject to such iniquity. We would really do something about it tomorrow… or maybe the day after…
Like many here, I’ve veered between heartbreak, rage and numb incomprehension at the events of the past week. My sincere apologies to all who may have been taken aback by the strength of feeling in the pub. Freedom of expression is precious and not to be set aside.
I hope it hasn’t put anyone off what is normally a joyous place. Normal service will be resumed next week.
“Songs won’t save the planet, but neither will books or speeches. Songs are sneaky things; they can slip across borders.”
– Pete Seeger, singer, civil rights activist and human being
“We're all f***ed. I'm f***ed. You're f***ed. The whole department's f***ed. It's been the biggest cock-up ever and we're all completely f***ed.”
– Sir Richard Mottram, KCB, GCB, Perm Sec DETR, now Chairman Amey PLC.
The twin thoughts of my week. Hold on to the first.
Now for the hangover...
The A-list playlist:
The Doors – Break on Through
Willie Clayton – That Wall
AKB48 – River
Studio Killers – Ode to the Bouncer
The KVB – White Walls
Duckworth Lewis Method – Mason on the Boundary
Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers
The Invitations – Written on the Wall
Todd Snider – Prison walls
The Eagles – Desperado
Al Stewart – On the border
Bruce Springsteen – Matamoras banks
Dorantes – Sin muros ni candados
PJ Harvey – A Line in the Sand
The B-list (or AA-list) playlist:
Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
Paranoid Visions – Fences
Dave Alvin – Border radio
Calexico – Crystal Frontiers
Richard and Linda Thompson – When I Get to the Border
Jacques Brel – Les Ramparts de Varsovie
Mikey Dread – Break Down the Walls
Skeleton Crew – The Border
The Go Betweens – Boundary Rider
Madonna – Borderline
Sting – Fortress Around Your Heart
James – Government Walls
Pink Floyd – Us and Them
Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings – Down Along the Dixie Line
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.