ELVIS MCGONAGALL
one man & his doggerel

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Today’s Special - A Recipe

Take one place way out in the mild, mild west
Light the Gas, get out a melting pot
Throw in merchants, Methodists and pirates
Mix Georgian splendour with graffitied squat

Marinade slowly in rum and sugar
Smoke in hand-rolled tobacco by the docks
Sear its past with the scars of slavery
Infuse its soul with the unorthodox

Whisk up a bridge across the Avon Gorge
Steam in the shipshape fashion of Brunel
Blend Wallace and Gromit’s cracking ideas
With Concorde’s supersonic farewell

Beat drum ‘n bass ‘n dub into trip-hop
Wallop in a dollop of Banksy’s wit
Preserve pride in a People’s Republic
Flambe in a riot of colour and grit

Melt Fry’s chocolate, stir in Nathan Filer’s words
Add Chris and Johnny Morris - a pinch of each
Pour in a blue glass of rich Harvey’s Cream
Sprinkle with the stardust of Archibald Leach

Season and spice with DJ Derek’s reggae
Braise in cider and anarchic spirit
Drizzle in “Brizzle” a la Julie Burchill
“Awright me old babber, mazen’, innit?”

Garnish with the Old Vic’s “Salad Days”
Serve chilled out and downtempo, don’t rush
A radical dish, full of flavours, yer tiz -
Just a little taste of Bristol - girt lush

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live”, bbc radio 4 at the bristol food festival 3/5/2014

 

Not Made In China

Rocket parts ‘n roses, guns ‘n prosthetic noses
Bikinis, pizzas, drugs and Tupperware
There’s a box of tricks conjuring up the goods
Industrial revolution’s in the air

Just plug in the machine and push the button
There ain’t no sweat on this assembly line
No need for oily overalls and spanners
On the factory floor of digital design

Here come unemployed welders by the million
Abandoned warehouses with empty shelves
Yes I have seen tomorrow’s world today
And it’s full of little statues of ourselves

Novelty knickknacks knocked out on demand
As first demonstrated on “The Clangers”
On sale soon at your local supermarket -
Iconoclastic plastic doppelgangers

Fifty paparazzi in a photo booth
Freezing us forever in a “fun-sized” frame
Petite Madame Tussauds for the unwashed hordes
Everyone will have six inches of fame

So transport me to that third dimension
Flash-bang-body-scan-beam-me-up-Scotty
Will my mini-me be a wee Adonis? No
It’s a tiny tartan tubby Pavarotti

For the proof of the printing’s in the pudding
When your teeny twin has eaten all the pies
But don’t just drop it in the recycling bin
You can peddle it as precious merchandise


A shrunken “shelfie” for the mantelpiece
A chessboard king, a dashboard figurine
An unwelcome guest on a wedding cake
An unwise man in a nativity scene

A masochist’s voodoo doll, a desktop god
A model village Ronnie Corbett in disguise
Maybe give it to your Granny for Christmas
Stick it on a plinth and win the Turner Prize

Accessorise it with a budgie mirror
For those with narcissistic self-esteem
You could have eleven made at huge expense
And form an oligarch’s subbuteo team

It could be an antique if our future’s sci-fi
Manufacturing our own blood, flesh and bones
Before we know it I’ll be your Robo-Poet
With an audience of replicant clones

Implications too vast for one tiny mind
A dystopia built from molten ink
It’s time to unclog my blocked nozzle head
And print myself a nice stiff 3-D drink

by elvis mcgonagall
for “click”, bbc world service 19/11/2013 and featured on bbc radio 4's "pick of the week"

 

Strictly Brendan Keaney

Craig Revel Horwood? Not a chance
Let Michael Flatley flounce and prance
There’s only one Lord of The Dance
Who’s that then? Brendan Keaney

Born with golden twinkle-toes
Waltzing out of Walthamstow
Billy Elliot? Oh no -
Strictly Brendan Keaney

So bienvenue au cabaret
Where stars appear in vast array
Sixteen years at gDA
Hey it’s Brendan Keaney

But dance ain’t just about Markovas
Freds ‘n Gingers and Pavlovas
All of Greenwich bossa novas
Thanks to Brendan Keaney

OAPs hip-hop in SE10
Tutus are worn by tattooed men
Toddlers tango now and then
Amen to Brendan Keaney

Dance cathedral architect
Acrobatic intellect
Passion. Wisdom. Wit. Respect
Due to Brendan Keaney

Held aloft in high regard
By those who plie and glissade
“All The Single Ladies” in leotards
They all love Brendan Keaney

“Mission Impossible”? Idle talk
Mends engines with a knife and fork
Makes Lazarus do the Lambeth Walk
Brendan Genie Keaney

Dreams of dance in his pyjamas
Got no time for vague mananas
Moving mountains with bananas
Busy Brendan Keaney

Pirouettes across frontiers
Athens, Zagreb and Sofia
Dancing partner pioneer
Continental Keaney

Irish blood like Seamus Heaney
Yet more London than the “Sweeney”
Loves Maggie and their two bambini
Brendan Joseph Keaney

But now it’s ciao and adios
Sing sayonara to the boss
Auf wiedersehn it’s such a loss
Don’t go Brendan Keaney

He’s off to the exotic East
Well, Ipswich at the very least
Va va voom on his Ducati beast
Easy Rider Keaney

So raise a glass and choreograph
Fond farewells from board and staff
Will they miss him much? Not half
One-off Brendan Keaney

Hasta la vista Mister Keaney
As classy as a dry martini
Still svelte enough for tight mankinis
Snake-hipped Brendan Keaney

From Benny Hill to Borough Hall
He’s let us all go to the ball
Time for one last curtain call
All rise for Brendan Keaney

by elvis mcgonagall
for the greenwich dance agency cabaret 8/2/2013

 

How To Assemble A Skaldestycke

Step one - check that Viking helmets are included -
With vodka, saunas and a dragon tattoo
If any Volvo parts are missing - call Hans Blix
While Greta Garbo sings Abba's "Waterloo"
Instal the existential angst of Kurt Wallander
(The pre-drilled Scandinavian detective)
Insert the dark, silent, frozen, gloomy winter
Hammer home the bleak and introspective
Attach a smorgasbord of Bjorn Borg and Bergman
To Anita Ekberg's Trevi Fountain frolic
Align the meatballs, tighten up the drunken elk
Adjust the tendency towards the melancholic
Reposition the fermented Baltic herring
Secure the Muppet Chef's flappen-jacken-ja
Nail down the Strindberg, discard the surplus Sven
Embellish with Ulrika-ka-ka-ka
Finally - paint it all bright blue and yellow
Finish with a super-sexy-blonde veneer
And that's a flat-pack poem made in Sweden
Without one cliched reference to Ikea

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 21/1/2012

 

His Masterful Voice (For Roy Skelton)

“Oh Geoffrey! The Doctor must be destroyed!” -
The soundtrack of our childhood days
You painted our world with a kaleidoscope of voices
We’re the middle-aged kids who know your every turn of phrase

Yours was the voice that launched a thousand nightmares
As we hid behind our sofas, trembling in dread
Yours was the voice that had us falling off our seats with laughter
Giggling at every word a pair of puppets said

You were a blue-eyed, oval-headed, big-mouthed creature
Cantankerous, bolshy, orange, full of cheek
Ian Paisley bark crossed with Maggie Thatcher squawk
Of indeterminate species, a “unique”

You were a fluffy pink hippo, spectacularly fey
Softly spoken, gentle to the bone
You were a mutant alien robot, built to kill
Shrieking in a merciless, staccato monotone

Yes you were a classically trained actor
You breathed life into cardboard, you made metal monsters gleam
From camp hippopotamus to evil Dalek?
That’s a range of which Olivier could but only dream

You filled our ears with happy memories
You invoked a little magic for the nation
From Bungle’s twanger to a Tardis cliffhanger
You entertained a generation

But now you’re somewhere over the rainbow
Up above the streets and houses, climbing high
As those Daleks mount the stairway to heaven
Zippy’s zipped up, George has waved his last goodbye

And yet a minute’s silence doesn’t seem appropriate
Simply saying “rest in peace” is too sedate
So – “This is an order Britain. You must obey” – altogether now
“Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”

by elvis mcgonagall
for “last word”, bbc radio 4  4/6/2011

 

The White Stuff

Winter’s face is alabaster, bleak ‘n blae
December wears a surly frown
A country lies silent in a frozen wreath
Benumbed and baffled the day is shut down
Blinding spindrift buffets the land
The bitter breath of Boreas blasts forth
It is a snithing, sneaping, scouring wind
The air bites shrewd from the north
The skirling skies snitter full snart
Scowder turns to a soft, thick fleece
Flothers fall in sudden flurry
The old woman is plucking her geese
Niveous graupel sets like bone
The earth rings hard, a rutted trough
In brief – baby it’s cold outside
A brass monkey’s bits could drop off
But you can skite on the ice, toboggan round town
Slip-slide into a Breughel scene
Two fingers to pleurisy, frostbite ‘n flu
Ski backwards down a glassy ravine
Dance with wolves and polar bears
Just go with the freezing flow
Cavort in the chaos of Albion’s tundra
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 5/12/2010

 

North of The Border

We were on the rampage doon frae Eccelfechan
Maraudin’ o’er the Whin Sill tae Bardon Mill village
We were gonnae rustle cattle, snaffle chattels, have
    a battle
We were up fer a wee bit ‘o pillage

But when we charged across the crags, lungs burstin’
Oor war cry slowly wheezed like a bagpipe’s dying fall
We dropped oor claymores, we stood stock still
Some radge called Hadrian had built a fuckin’ wall!

Fifteen foot high, ten foot thick
Seventy mile wide
How were we gonnae get a curry frae Vindalooland?
The takeaway was on the other side

This bampot Hadrian had an “Empire” frae Newcastle
    tae the Nile
But he didnae want oor wee bit hill an’ glen
It’s “civilisation fer the nation” – except fer us
Everybody’s pickin’ on the Picts – again

So Big Murdo McBanksy drew his sgian dubh and
    scribbled in the stone –
“Redire ad Romanum Magnum Nasus”
Which means – “Fuck off back tae Rome ya big nosed
    bastard”
Aye – we’re no so “barbarian” as some o’ youse paints us

We didnae sail doon the Dee on a digestive
We can haud oor heids high like thistles, we’re fine
Youse can keep yer libraries, yer baths and yer togas
Yer latrines, yer sandals and yer wine

Stick yer aqueducts where the sun don’t shine
And every endless, boring, boring road
We will not be subjected to yer oppressive, supremacist
    cultural imperialism pal
Because – we just like wearing woad

And because we come frae bonny Caledonia
Land o’ the mythical useless goalie
Deep fried mars bars, North Sea oil
Sean Connery ‘n Hardeep Singh Kohli

Kippers, kilts ‘n the Krankies
Haggis, Highland fling ‘n Hogmanay
Tartan, tarmacadam, television
And the beautiful silvery Tay

Sporrans, porridge, penicillin
Rab C Nesbitt, Andy Murray, Auld Lang Syne
Bay City Rollers, chronic heart disease
Lochs full o’ whisky, we’re a liquid goldmine

Which is why one day we came tae realise
Yon Hadrian was a right clever yin
This wall wasnae built tae keep us oot
It was built tae keep the English in

And though it has now fallen intae ruin
Like a phoenix frae the ashes it will rise up again
Because Scotland’s gonnae rebuild the whole bloody
    thing –
Now that wee numpty Cameron’s got intae Number Ten

by elvis mcgonagall
for “all along the wall” january 2010

 

Frothing Mad

Wake up and smell the profit
It’s a roasted bean bonanza
They’ve struck it rich with hot black gold
It’s a cost-a-packet coffee shop extravaganza
It’s flattpack counter-culture
In high-street wi-fi boho beige
But I’m the Don Quixote of the daily grind
On the boil with Java rage
No. I don’t “wanna blueberry muffin with that?”
Or a “funky blend from Guadalajara”
Hey Mister Barista, I’m no mug
I’m caffeine’s Che Guevara
Fighting the blight of the tall-skinny-latte
Caramel-decaff-cappuccino
Double-chocca-mocha-macchiato
Wet-whipless-triple-frappuccino
Shot-in-the-dark-with-a-hazelnut
Long-black-flat-white-with-wings
And those polythene-cheesie-panini
Burn-your-mouth-off-toastie-things
Why don’t they charge for Small, Medium, Large?
Why’s it Primo-Vente-Grande
Mucho-Macho-Ridiculoso
Massivo-Pavarotti-Elephante?
Yes, I stand alone like King Canute
Against the relentless corporate tide
Of the “have-a-nice-day” megabucks café
The bland leading the bland worldwide
It’s all that Jennifer Anniston’s fault
Her and her “Friends” at “Central Perk”
Sipping “no-fun-drip-with-soya”
Driving me beserk
And so head held high I head back home
Past the old greasy spoon, RIP
To lead the revolution from my armchair
Feet up with a nice cup of tea

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 21/7/2007

 

Against All Odds

Armed to the teeth, an invincible Philistine
Let Goliath, the bully, do what he may
For with five stones in a sling eternal hope springs
Every underdog will have his day
With backbone, pluck and cojones
Nerve of steel, heart of oak, iron chin
The hangdog Hancocks in homburg hats
Will take on the world and win
The minnows will slay the giants
Owned by oligarch, sheikh and tycoon
All the Persians will die at Thermopylae
The Greeks will be over the moon
Eddie the Eagle will fly like an angel
Samson will fall to Rocky Balboa
Captain Scott will get to the South Pole first
The All Blacks will lose to Samoa
Basil Brush will score a ton against the Aussies
Scotland will hammer Brazil
Wimbledon will be won by John Sergeant
Hull will beat Chelsea six nil
The underdogs will overcome
The downtrodden will rise up and sing
And the son of a Kenyan goatherd will be
The next American King

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live" bbc radio 4 22/11/2008

 

La Mano De Dios Jimmy

Home of kippers, kilts and The Krankies
Land of the mythical Useless Goalie
Deep-fried Mars Bars, North Sea Oil
Sean Connery, Hardeep Singh Kohli
Monarch of The Glen – the puma
The Patagonian silvery Tay
Highland fling and Glasgow tango
Roberto C Nesbitt – ole!
Born of gauchos on the pampas of Paisley
Raised on the Shetland Tierra del Fuego
Scotland welcomes its greatest ever volleyball player –
A tubby wee bloke called Diego
And Hampden will roar for McMaradona
As one man sits grim-faced, ramrod –
Can Terry bury his Butcher’s hatchet?
Will he shake the left hand of God?

by elvis mcgonagall
for "the today programme", bbc radio 4 19/11/2008

 

Money, Money, Money

When one is on one’s uppers, out at elbow, down at heel
When one’s silver spoon is tarnished, bent and worn
One need not stare into the void of winter’s fiscal discontent
In Stygian gloom forlorn
When one longs to wave a wad of wonga, to splash a stash of cash
But one is sinking fast in simply ghastly debt -
Call The Floating Russian Oligarch Vodka Palace Bank
The bank that unbelievably says “nyet!”
(Complimentary cocktails subject to status.
Terms and conditions apply)

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 25/10/2008

 

Games For A Laugh?

One World, One Dream, One Breathtaking Smog
Sing out each nation, by jingo, voices strong
Rise up in harmony, unfurl the flags of every land
(except Tibet)
It’s time for synchronised-equestrian-ping-pong
Roll-up for the 5-ring-circus-hoopla
Roll-up for the lycra-clad Heracles of our age
In their high-tec, sat-nav chariots of fire plc
Full of tetrahydrogestrinone roid rage
Oh whither Alf Tupper, Tough of the Track
Wielding welder’s torch, fish ‘n chips and
hobnailed boots?
Whither Nigel Havers’ leisured leaping lord
Sporting silk cravat, cigarette and champagne
flutes?
Let us reach out and feel for the Corinthian ideal
Four years’ hence at London’s jamboree
Let’s have compulsory tweed vests, plimsolls, pipes
and brylcreemed hair
Spam fritters and performance boosting tea
We don’t need Lang Lang on the old Joanna
We’ve got Chas ‘n Dave
Jellied eels, party hats, knees up Gordon Brown
Think of all the money that we’ll save
Let’s have tug-o’-war, egg and spoon and a
three-legged race
Let’s make the credit crunch Olympics first-rate
Let’s take a great hop, skip and jump backwards
To the spirit of 1948

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 9/8/2008

 

The Frame Game

Enter the dragons….stop!
Wait a minute Mister Wenbo –
That’s not your cue. OK – take two
Ready, steady, let’s go
Enter the dragons, the rockets, the wizards
Let the assassins and outlaws begin
The magicians of perfect positions
The kings of the cannon, the sultans of spin
32 men with nerves of Sheffield steel
Forged in the heat of the Crucible’s fire
17 days of the boys on the baize
A duel for the crown way on down to the wire
Slowly twisting the chalk, they prowl and they stalk
Hunting pink and potting the black
A cat and mouse game on a lush green terrain
Picking off all the reds in the pack
To the gentle soundtrack of the clack, clack, clack
The thunk in the pocket, the rattle in the jaws
In an enraptured cathedral of silence
Whispered commentary, sudden applause
“He’s got a perfect kiss on the yellow
The cue-ball’s on a string that’s a lovely run-through
In-off the lampshade with a spider
Settling nicely on a plant by the blue”
Working out all the impossible angles
Advanced trigonometry plus derring-do
You don’t need a protractor or set square
When you’re Pythagoras armed with a cue
Swashbuckling round the table
At maximum breakneck pace
There’s 147 steps to heaven
A dance to the rhythm’s inspired embrace
With a rival sat slumped sipping water
Bowtie wilting, hope sinking, resigned
Staring vacantly into space
Idle thoughts cross his unravelled mind
“The cushions are bouncy. I don’t like the cut of the cloth”
“Let’s have hamsters for goalies. Am I dressed like a waiter?”
“The referee’s wearing Paul Daniels’ gloves”
“I might have some fish ‘n chips later”
But now the last two are left standing
The final frame will unfold
At the end of a rainbow of colours
Somebody’s gonna pot gold
Red and yellow, pink, green and brown
Who’s gonna feel black and blue?
Can Captain Carter crash Ronnie the Rocket?
I’m sorry- I’m snookered- I haven’t a cue

by elvis mcgonagall
for the world snooker championships, bbc2 2/5/2008

 

By George!

Once more unto the breach, dear Morris Dancers
once more
Jingle your bells, thwack sticks, raise flagons
Cry “God for Harry and Saint George!”
Gallant knight and slayer of dragons
Patron saint of merry England –
And Georgia, and Catalonia, and Portugal, Beirut, Moscow
Istanbul, Germany, Greece
Archers, farmers, boy scouts, butchers and sufferers of
syphilis
Multicultural icon with sword and codpiece
On, on you bullet-headed saxon sons
Fly flags from white van and cab
But remember stout yeomen, your champion was Turkish
So – get drunk and have a kebab

by elvis mcgonagall
for "the today programme", bbc radio 4 23/4/2008

 

Easter

Christ crucified on Calvary is risen from the dead
Stigmata bathed in celestial light
And in the garden of Gethsemane
A six-foot bunny’s hidden chocolate eggs in the night

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 22/3/2008

 

Reprieve

There’s no justice in the hangman’s rope
Swinging in the air
There’s no grace upon the gallows
There’s no mercy in the chair
Yet the lynch mob rule is righteous
It’s yippee eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
Wild West values dressed in their Sunday best
Vengeance burying the truth
But they won’t hold the needle
They won’t pull the switch
They won’t buckle the leather straps
They’ll just throw you in hell’s ditch
Where Death is dressed in violent orange
And shackled to your fears
A silent, cold companion
As you wait and count the years
And though your hope seems broken
Beaten black and blue
Don’t drink the waters of oblivion
The world has not forgotten you
You will walk free from desolation
Another life will come your way
And the blood-guilt stain on the Stars and Stripes
May be washed clean one day

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 12/1/2008

 

Call My Bluff

I’m the brand new Cincinnati Kid on the block
I’m a blue-chip, red-hot poker brat
I got an ace up my sleeve, I got alligator blood
I’m ahead, my hand is pat
I’m on the button, I’m on a rush
Ten-deuce off-suit I’m double trouble
Pass the buck, I’ll give you action
I ain’t goin’ out on the TV bubble
Next time that pigeon flops the nuts
Sandbag the donkey’s hit and run
But don’t tap on the aquarium
When the fish is having fun
Ain’t no point lookin’ for a third three
It was posted on fourth street
I’m gonna limp re-raise with my pocket eights
You never see me steamin’ on a big bad beat
I’m gonna chase that flush draw down to the river
Jam the pot on a Mississippi straddle
Wash that deck - I ain’t shipwrecked
Gonna catch a boat with a golden paddle
Now you may say – enough is enough this stuff’s a bluff
Just zap this claptrap rap
And you’d be right ‘cos I been sittin’ here all night
Wonderin’ why is no-one shoutin’ “Snap!”?

by elvis mcgonagall
for “world poker series (europe)”, september 2007

 

Ever After

Rug ripped from under your feet
Cast adrift and anchor gone
All at sixes and sevens
Now two is suddenly one
Thread and bearings lost
Ship abandoned, all at sea
Hope sinking on the horizon
Now it’s “I” instead of “We”
A piece of your puzzle is missing
The half that made the whole shebang
The front seat of the tandem is empty
There’s a yin but there’s no yang
It’s like Ginger waltzing without Fred
It’s Johnny singing without June
It’s like Corbett without Barker
It’s Mills without the Boon
But one day without any warning
Out of the blue, like a thief in the night
If a stranger dares to steal your heart
And you’re filled with a sweet delight
Then take the plunge and cross the Rubicon
For when push it comes to shove
You can dance the dance with another
So c’mon. Jump in to love

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 21/7/2007

 

Can You Tell What It Is Yet?

It’s….“a festival of contemporary performing arts”
“Europe’s biggest open-air event”
“a city the size of Sunderland”
the world and his wife in a tent
a medieval Wild West shanty town
the BoHo House at Worthy Farm
an apocalyptic Oxford Circus
a Babylon of blessed balm
the sou’wester fiesta
John Peel’s Shangri-La
the psychedelic cider Solstice
Millets’ Mardi Gras
proud Albion’s Billy Braggstock
a bucolic mini-state
the Lord Mayor of Misrule’s annual show
the Pilton village fete
seventh heaven, cloud nine
a long weekend in Wonderland
a mystical, magical merry-go-round
a carnival of the damned
an explosion in Willy Wonka’s factory
a caramel chocolate swamp
a barmy army’s welly boot camp
a shocktroop’s rock ‘n roll yomp
beards ‘n bongos, beads ‘n bells
karma, kaftans ‘n kagoules
peace, love and understanding on stilts
Mad Hatters, holy fools
shamen juggling cannonballs
ballerinas playing didgeridoos
evergreen fields of dreams
cloudbursts of savage blues
a trip through the canyons of Salvador Dali’s mind
cows up trees, angels dusted in dirt
a secret gig in Amy Winehouse’s beehive
anarchy in a Cath Kidston yurt
organic rap and radical noodles
left-wing bling and silent rave
eco-friendly-fairtrade-drum ‘n bass
techno-techno Chas ‘n Dave
revolting youth and wizened wizards
Somerset’s human zoo
the people’s pleasure garden
inhibition’s Waterloo
a cornucopia of delight
the song of a lost troubadour
It’s....Glastonbury, it’s all of these
and much, much, much, much more

by elvis mcgonagall
for the glastonbury festival, june 2007

 

Designer Porridge

Apricot boilersuit by Versace
Diamante handcuffed glamour
We’re winning the War on Celebrity
Paris Hilton is back in the slammer

by elvis mcgonagall
for “saturday live", bbc radio 4 9/6/2007



Words © Elvis McGonagall 2009-2013 | photographs © Joss Barratt & Tineke de Lange | All rights reserved | site design by michelle abadie web design