Some migration songs

With an introduction by St. Spike in the Moon.

Humanity, viewed from the spike of St. Lawrence's, Gnosall.

Humanity, viewed from the spike of St. Lawrence's, Gnosall. Image: MarkovianStumble.

Something in Stafford on the Saturday evening, and on the Sunday morning we walked out across the fields to have a look at St. Lawrence’s at Gnosall, where Pevsner observed “some of the most exciting Norman work in the county,” and where he became so excited by the inner transformations that he didn’t mention the splendid though eroded beasties outside. Unfortunately:

  • on the way there was a rather long conversation with a milking herd – there’s a lovely little children’s song by Janáček, “Hó, hó, krávy dó”, which I think exists in imaginative translation as “Moo, moo, two by two” in Harewood & Duncan’s Classical songs for children:


  • Holy Communion was at 07:45 rather than the optimistically anticipated 08:00, and
  • there were no bells to hurry us along – what is Chird of England doctrine on Sunday morning lie-ins?

So when we got there, things were already winding down. But people were incredibly welcoming, pointing out glorious detail we would otherwise have missed, and it was only out of the corner of a sleepy eye that I saw A Children’s Treasury of Milligan lurking on a pew.

George Szirtes writes:

I now think of Spike as more spirit than man. An imp, a boggart, a demon, a spectre, a poltergeist, a hobbledehoy. And yet a human being, who is all those things at once.

Perhaps, then, those good people of Gnosall find in him flashes of the character of their Saviour. That is what I hope, though I accept that it may take a while before the Anglican communion is enlivened and enriched by St. Spike. I also agree with George’s view of the censors. At various times of my life I have been attacked by complete strangers, inter alia for being perceived as:

  • Irish (small boys at an English school, a long time ago),
  • German (West Friesian Vikings at a rough-and-tumble gig in North Holland, impeded by rough netting separating stage from bearpit),
  • Dutch (Bosnians, from behind, in Enschede), and
  • human (drunks on tractor vs hippy on grandad bike, near Eisenhüttenstadt, shortly after German reunification).

But because Spike’s work so utterly transcends normal human frailties I can watch without the slightest discomfort his Irish astronauts:

… and the Pakistani Daleks:

I suppose some might mistake for apism the escapism in the frequent references to monkeys (bear with me, primatologists) in the Children’s Treasury, but my monkey has been listening to “Tales of Men’s Shirts” from the Goon Show for years without any obvious ill effects:

Seagoon: My next impression will be of Spike Milligan saying “Thynne”.
Milligan: Thynne!
Orchestra and Omnes: Thynne!
Milligan: Thyyyynne!
Orchestra and Omnes: Thyyyynne!
Milligan: ThyyyyYYYYyyyynne!
Orchestra and Omnes: ThyyyyYYYYyyyynne!
Seagoon: That’s Thynne enough! Thank you, thank you. Remember, folks, saying “Thynne” cures you of monkeys on the knees.
Sellers: Yes, if you’ve got monkeys on the knees, just say:
Milligan: Thynne!
Sellers: And they are only three and six a box.
Milligan: Yes, I swear by Thynne. One morning I woke up and there they were monkeys on the knees!
Grams: [Monkeys in a temper]
Milligan: Then I said the cure word, Thynne!
Grams: [Speed up and fade record of the monkeys at high speed]
Milligan: And away they went!
Greenslade: Ta. The monkeys were played by professional apes.
Seagoon: That was Wallace Greenslade saying words.

I was singing somewhere else the other day when an Italian gent, whose daughter had been jigging around to some Spanish stuff, came up and suggested

  1. that I sing a particular Italian number. Unfortunately I have forgotten it (and so had he), but if he gets in touch I’ll have a bash.
  2. that for marketing purposes I group my various songs about movement. I already have a list of Milliganish migrations, but here are some of the more obviously geographical ones, and you may have more candidates.

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