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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Monday, December 14, 2009

9-minute beat(ing)

For the video of Tim Minchin's performance, head on over to Balderdash :-D


In a North London, top-floor flat,
All white walls, white carpet, white cat,
Rice paper partitions,
Modern art and ambition.
The host’s a physician,
Bright bloke, has his own practice,
His girlfriend’s an actress,
An old mate of ours from home,
And they’re always great fun.
So to dinner we’ve come.

The 5th guest is an unknown.
The hosts have just thrown
Us together for a favour,
Because this girl’s just arrived from Australia,
And she's moved to North London,
And she’s the sister of someone,
Or has some connection.

As we make introductions
I’m struck by her beauty.
She’s irrefutably fair,
With dark eyes and dark hair...
But as she sits
I admit I’m a little bit wary,
Because I notice the tip of the wing of a fairy
Tattooed on that popular area
Just above the derrière.
And when she says: “I’m Sagittarian,”
I confess a pigeonhole starts to form
And is immediately filled with pigeon,
When she says her name is Storm.

Conversation is initially bright and light hearted,
But it’s not long before Storm gets started:
“You can’t know anything,
Knowledge is merely opinion,”
She opines, over her Cabernet Sauvignon,
Some unhippily
Empirical comment made by me...

“Not a good start,” I think.
We’re only on pre-dinner drinks,
And across the room, my wife
Widens her eyes,
Silently begs me: 'Be nice.'
A matrimonial warning,
Not worth ignoring.
So I resist the urge to ask Storm
Whether knowledge is so loose-weave,
Of a morning,
When deciding whether to leave
Her apartment by the front door...
Or the window on her second floor.

The food is delicious and Storm,
Whilst avoiding all meat,
Happily sits and eats
As the good doctor, slightly pissedly,
Holds court on some anachronistic aspect of medical history,
When Storm suddenly insists:
“But the human body is a mystery!
Science just falls in a hole
When it tries to explain the the nature of the soul.”

My hostess throws me a glance.
She, like my wife, knows there’s a chance
I’ll be off on one of my rare, but fun rants.
But I shan't, my lips are sealed.
I just want to enjoy the meal.
And although Storm is starting to get my goat,
I have no intention of rocking the boat,
Although it’s becoming a bit of a wrestle
Because, like her meteorological namesake,
Storm has no such concerns for our vessel:

“Pharmaceutical companies are the enemy.
They promote drug dependency
At the cost of the natural remedies
That are all our bodies need;
They are immoral and driven by greed.
Why take drugs
When herbs can solve it?
Why use chemicals
When homeopathic solvents
Can resolve it?
I think it’s time we all return to live
With natural medical alternatives.”

And try as I like,
A small crack appears
In my diplomacy dike.
“By definition,” I begin,
“Alternative medicine,” I continue,
“Has either not been proved to work,
Or been proved not to work.
Do you know what they call 'alternative medicine'
That’s been proved to work?

“So you don’t believe
In any natural remedies?”

“On the contrary, Storm, actually,
Before we came to tea,
I took a natural remedy
Derived from the bark of a willow tree.
A painkiller, virtually side-effect free,
It’s got a weird name:
Darling, what was it again?
Ma- ma- maspirin?
Oh yeah: aspirin!
Which I paid about a buck for
Down at the local drugstore."

The debate briefly abates
As my hosts collect plates,
but as they return with dessert,
Storm pertly asserts:

“Shakespeare said it first:
There are more things in heaven and earth
Than exist in your philosophy…
Science is just how we’re trained to look at reality,
It doesn't explain love, or spirituality.
How does science explain psychics?
Auras; the afterlife; the power of prayer?”

I’m becoming aware
That I’m staring,
I’m like a rabbit suddenly trapped
In the blinding headlights of vacuous crap.
Maybe it’s the Hamlet she just misquothed,
Or the sixth glass of wine I just quaffed,
But my diplomacy dike groans,
And the arsehole held back by its stones
Can be held back no more:

“Look, er, Storm, sorry, I don’t mean to bore you,
But there’s no such thing as an aura,
Reading auras is like reading minds,
Or tea-leaves, or star signs, or meridian lines...
These people aren’t plying a skill,
They are either lying, or mentally ill.
Same goes for people who claim to hear God’s demands,
And spiritual healers who think they've got magic hands.

By the way,
Why do we think it's okay
For people to pretend they can talk to the dead?
Isn't that totally fucked in the head?
Lying to some crying woman whose child has died
And telling her you’re in touch with the other side?
That’s just fundamentally sick.
Do we need to clarify here that there’s no such thing as a psychic?
What, are we fucking two (years old)?
Do we actually think that Horton Heard a Who?
Do we still believe that Santa brings us gifts?
That Michael Jackson didn't have facelifts?
Are we still so stunned by circus tricks
That we think the dead would
Wanna talk to pricks like John Edward?

Storm, to her credit, despite my derision,
Keeps firing off clichés with startling precision,
Like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition.

“You’re so sure of your position
That you’re just closed-minded.
I think you’ll find
Your faith in science and tests
Is just as blind
As the faith of any fundamentalist."

“Well that’s a good point, let me think for a bit...
Oh wait, my mistake, that's absolute bullshit.

Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed,
Faith is the denial of observation,
So that belief can be preserved.
If you show me
That, say, homeopathy works,
Then I will change my mind,
I will spin on a fucking dime,
I'll be as embarrassed as hell,
But I will run through the streets yelling:
It’s a miracle!
Take physics and bin it!
Water has memory!
And whilst its memory of a long lost drop of onion juice seems infinite,
It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!

You show me that it works and how it works,
And when I’ve recovered from the shock,
I will take a compass and carve: 'Fancy that!' on the side of my cock."

Everyone is just staring now,
But I’m pretty pissed and I’ve dug this far down,
So I figure... in for a penny, in for a pound!

“Life is full of mystery, yeah,
But there are answers out there,
And they won’t be found
By people sitting around
Looking serious and saying:
'Isn’t life mysterious!'
Let’s sit here and hope,
Let’s call up the fucking Pope,
Let’s go watch Oprah
Interview Deepak Chopra...

If you must watch telly, you should watch Scooby Doo.
That show was so cool...
Because every time there was a church with a ghoul,
Or a ghost in a school,
They looked beneath the mask, and what was inside?
The fucking janitor or the dude who ran the water slide!

Because throughout history,
Every mystery ever solved,
Has turned out to be...
Not magic!

Does the idea that there might be knowledge,
Frighten you?
Does the idea that one afternoon
On Wiki-fucking-pedia might enlighten you,
Frighten you?
Does the notion that there may not be a supernatural
So blow your hippy noodle
That you'd rather just stand in the fog
Of your inability to Google?

Isn’t this enough?

Just this world?
Just this.. beautiful, complex...
Wonderfully unfathomable... natural world?
How does it so fail to hold our attention
That we have to diminish it with the invention
Of cheap, man-made myths and monsters?

If you’re so into your Shakespeare,
Lend me your ear:
“To gild refined gold,
To paint the lily,
To throw perfume on the violet…
is just fucking silly."

Or something like that.

Or what about Satchmo?
"I see trees of green,
Red roses too... "

And fine, if you wish to
Glorify Krishna and Vishnu
In a post-colonial, condescending,
Bottled-up-and-labeled kind of way,
Then whatever, that’s okay.
But here’s what gives me a hard-on:
I am a tiny, insignificant, ignorant bit of carbon.
I have one life, and it is short
And unimportant…
But thanks to recent scientific advances,
I get to live twice as long
As my great great great great uncleses and auntses.

Twice as long to live this life of mine.
Twice as long to love this wife of mine.
Twice as many years of friends and wine,
Of sharing curries and getting shitty,
At good-looking hippies
With fairies on their spines
And butterflies on their titties.

And if perchance I have offended,
Think but this and all is mended:
We’d as well be 10 minutes back in time,
For all the chance you’ll change your mind.

(Tim Minchin)

Related post
Save the Planet — Kill Yourself!


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