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Robb Johnson, A Break in the Clouds

Man Walks Into a Pub


Jodie's eating noodles,
Happy Chinese New Year
It's her third plastic cup full of noodles
and she grins from ear to china
Everybody gets a lucky bag,
There's noodles everywhere
Even the class chairchuckers
Aren't chucking any chairs

My Lords, Ladies and Celebrities,
Allow me to present 
This very small piece of the real world

She's got
Two sisters and a brother
A dad who goes away
A mum who doesn't listen
When she's got things to say
Like: Today we found this sparrow, mum,
We don't know how it died
and some little purple flowers, mum,
What happens when you die?

Welcome to the real world
There's Jodies everywhere
I know you're far too busy
To answer every prayer
From every falling sparrow
Chairchucker, waif and stray
Whose idea of seventh heaven
Is a Chinese takeaway...

You just closed down her hospital, sent her brother to Iraq,
It would be a good idea if both them came back...

Talking of the day job, here’s the first of two songs about people I’ve worked with. The names have been changed, and as with “Couscous” there’s been a bit of elaborating to make Jodie more of a universal figure (she didn’t actually have a brother in Iraq, though you did have to make a twenty-minute-plus ride to another town to get to a hospital). This is also a song that had been hanging around for a while. I wondered whether I should change the “Iraq” reference to something more current, but then maybe we shouldn’t let the memory of that shameful Anglo-American imperial escapade fade so quickly. Plus it provides a good rhyme with “back” - so it stayed. We had tried recording it for the “Love and Death and Politics” album, but that really hadn’t worked at all. Luckily it seems to fit quite nicely here. I am for much of the time severely not happy that the day job limits my ability to write and gig. However, it does also mean my songs when they do happen can have a grounding in a reality that maybe if I was just a musician I might otherwise have no experience of. It seems to me that neither contemporary culture nor the media that defines and disseminates contemporary culture have any time for people like Jodie, indeed, for most of the people that I know, whatsoever.


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