31 December 2008

On a (miserable) new year

Obviously, best wishes to all readers for a happy, healthy, harmonious and even prosperous 2009!

While it has to be admitted that things are not looking good on many fronts, I am dismayed by the glee with which the media and commentariat are talking down the outlook. Not only is "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." according to J K Galbraith (sorry about the sloppy referencing...), but of course the financial world is the primary habitat of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

In such a climate I keep returning to Noel Coward's wonderful "Ode to Depression" (1952, full lyrics, both domestic and international, from the heading link above). Here's a sample from the international version, which is not quite as clever or funny as the British version, but does not rely as much on taken-for-granted background knowledge...
Verse 1
They're nervous in Nigeria
And terribly cross in Crete,
In Bucharest
They are so depressed
They're frightened to cross the street,
They're sullen in Siberia
And timid in Turkestan,
They're sick with fright
In the Isle of Wight
And jittery in Japan,
The Irish groan and shout, lads,
Maybe because they're Celts,
They know they're up the spout, lads,
And so is everyone else.
Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Trouble is on the way.
Refrain 1
There are bad times just around the corner,
There are dark clouds hurtling through the sky
And it's no use whining
About a silver lining
For we KNOW from experience that they won't roll by,
With a scowl and a frown
We'll keep our spirits down
And prepare for depression and doom and dread,
We're going to unpack our troubles from our old kit bag
And wait until we drop down dead.
Sadly the only performance I can find on the web is the one below by a certain Robbie Williams, which is pretty abysmal, although it does pick up a little in the last minute: (if the aspect ratio of the video itself is distorted, my apologies, but it is beyond my control)

To my mind the definitive version is that of the King's Singers (1975).

Have a great new year!

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