Division, Extremes and “Pinball” by Brian Protheroe

I can’t be alone in noticing that this crisis is throwing up the most awful contrasts in the lives of our citizens. I also can’t be alone in cringing when I see “celebrities” (the more pointless of them thankfully now redundant) sharing pictures from their luxury mansions, bemoaning the fact that lockdown is like being in jail. No it’s not – You have five bedrooms, a pool, and access to a stash of cash. If ever there was a time for them to leave social media behind, it would be now.

boat-meme-z
Ignore the missing apostrophe, not my doing

But even closer to home, I find myself getting a bit fratchety with some friends who just don’t seem to be showing any empathy at all for what certain groups of people are currently going through. How can you live in 21st century Britain without realising this is not all just a bit of an inconvenience but something really, really far-reaching for the future. The division between rich and poor has never been so marked and during a global pandemic it turns out that in the main, it is those who earn the least that are the most valuable. Every day they are putting their lives at risk, for which I am truly grateful, and tell them so at every opportunity.

Poverty-Line

As for our many friends who also work in the craft industries (one of whom always told us his ambition was to one day reach the poverty line), I not only worry about their ability to tick over during this lockdown, but also their mental health. Being a creative type does tend to go hand in hand with a heightened sensitivity to bloody everything, and the NaPoWriMo poems coming in from my writer friends is bearing that out.

But hey, rant over, this is a music blog and I heard a wonderful song from 1974 on the car radio last week as I headed out to forage for provisions. It was all about that feeling of ennui, which makes you hole up at home, not bothering to go out. Ironically we are nearly all now holed up at home, but not from the feeling of ennui, but because we are frankly terrified of going out both for health reasons and for fear of falling foul of fast-changing lockdown rules (unintentional but lively alliteration there).

Brian Protheroe still is and was primarily an actor back in 1974, but he also wrote a few fine songs and released some albums on the Chrysalis label. His most successful single was Pinball and I have become quite smitten by it.

Pinball by Brian Protheroe:

Brian had been out of work and was living in a flea ridden room in Covent Garden. The song came out of the mundane things he saw over the course of the weekend. There is a sax solo but other than that it’s a very simple song, just folky verses and no chorus. It also references the Beatles split from a few years before and all of Brian’s songs are noted for their use of wordplay, some nonsensical, in the vein of John Lennon.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Funny how we are happy to go with the flow when life is normal (and not “the new normal”), but at times of crisis, the glittering lives of those we have elevated to celebrity status are suddenly unimportant. I have been really touched by some of the offers of help old friends have given to DD, as her situation is really difficult at the moment. Not needed as yet but I will remember them. Post-coronavirus all bets are off and only time will tell what “the new, new normal” will really look like.

Until next time, take care as ever, and feel free to leave a comment. I need to know I am not just another music geek, who overthinks things.

Pinball Lyrics
(Song by Brian Protheroe)

And I’ve run out of pale ale
And I feel like I’m in jail
And my music bores me once again
And I’ve been on the pinball
And I know longer know it all
And they say that you never know when you’re insane

Got fleas in my bedroom
Got flies in my bathroom
And the cat just finished off the bread
So I walk over Soho
And I read about Monroe
And I wonder was she really what they said

Got a call from a good friend
Come on down for the weekend
Didn’t know if I could spare the time
I knew a woman who was crazy
About a boy who was lazy
But it didn’t work out ‘cos they just couldn’t make it rhyme

Hey Jude you were alright
I could have grooved with you all night
But you turned your back on the part again
Mama if i keep my head clean
Will I really have a good dream
Or will I wake up in confusion just the same

And I’ve run out of pale ale
And I feel like I’m in jail
Got fleas in the bedroom
Got flies in the bathroom
Got a call from a good friend
Come on down for the weekend
Hey Jude you were alright
I could have grooved with you all night

And I’ve been on the pale ale
And I feel like a pinball

Postscript:

When doing a modicum of research for this post I discovered that Brian Protheroe has been the narrator for the Channel 4 dating show First Dates since 2013. When I travelled south to meet up with the lovely C from Sun Dried Sparrows last summer, we had lunch in that very location.