I read it in a magazine


He’s got electric boots, a mohair suit. I know, I read it in a magazine.

A long, long time ago, notwithstanding I can still remember how that music made me smile, I was a bit hipNhappening. I’d cut my own hair in a manner which my best friend found alarming. I had a sheepskin coat and black needle cords and a blue stripey collarless shirt and John Lennon glasses and one of those grey and brown and black sweaters you used to be able to get from head shops when there were any, back in the days when they didn’t so much sell patchouli in every shop in Bath as spray it out of crop-duster planes on continuous low passes over Walcot Street. Talkin’ bout a revolution? Baby, I was there.

I’m sorry, where was I? Feeding the enemy, as I recall. Once upon a time there was a thing called the wine lake and another thing called the butter mountain. Even then, a news story wasn’t a proper news story unless a suitably babyish name could be slapped on something important, life-changing and complex, so people didn’t have to think too hard about it.

The EU had decided to subsidise the British farmers who voted to leave it last year by buying-up their butter to keep the price at a respectable level. In one of the inherent problems of a supply economy, if there’s too much of something the price goes down. And down. And down. And people starve. The EU guaranteed to buy farmers’ butter. So farmers don’t starve. Brilliant, said farmers. I think next year we’ll turn over all our milk production to butter. But we’ve got too much butter, said the EU. Your problem, said the farmers. Where’s our subsidy?

And so it continued for a while. Up to a point. But then some odd things happened. In pretty much the same breath we were told the evil totally reprehensible Soviet Union, President Reagan’s ‘evil empire’ had invaded Afghanistan and that was a Bad Thing. It’s only good when we do it, and then we ‘help,’ not ‘invade.’ Everyone knows that.

At almost exactly the same time we were told the problem of the butter mountain had been solved; we’d flogged it to the USSR for about 47p. Job done.

Which, as I declaimed loudly in the Rose & Crown in Trowbridge of a Saturday night to anyone who would listen and many people who wouldn’t, was what this song was about. Listen. No, listen. Then hear the ping of my brass Zippo as I light a Camel. Hawken to the sound too, of scratching as my jumper moults itchily.

Naturally, with a Prime Minister selling weapons to the same regime which is the biggest exporter of terrorsim aimed at the UK, nothing like that could happen now. These days we do guns, not butter.

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