Friday, November 07, 2008

London Bridge: An Interpretation

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.

Take a key and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up.
Take a key and lock her up, my fair lady.

How will we build it up, build it up, build it up?
How will we build it up, my fair lady.

Build it up with silver and gold, silver and gold, silver and gold.
Build it up with silver and gold, my fair lady.

Gold and silver I have none, I have none, I have none.
Gold and silver I have none, my fair lady.

Build it up with needles and pins, needles and pins, needles and pins.
Build it up with needles and pins, my fair lady.

Pins and needles will bend and break, bend and break, bend and break.
Pins and needles will bend and break, my fair lady.

Build it up with wood and clay, wood and clay, wood and clay.
Build it up with wood and clay, my fair lady.

Wood and clay will wash away, wash away, wash away.
Wood and clay will wash away, my fair lady.

Build it up with stones so strong, stones so strong, stones so strong.
Build it up with stones so strong, my fair lady.

Stones so strong will last so long, last so long, last so long.
Stones so strong will last so long, my fair lady.

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.


The civic struggle portrayed in London Bridge is set in the Royal Victorian Court in the late nineteenth century. At the time, the London Bridge, some seventy years old, has begun to crumble, killing many horses and crushing numerous ornate hats. The latter sparked the ire of the Greater London Organization of Women (GLOW) (not to be confused with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). GLOW requested an audience with Queen Victoria and the residing Minister of Transport. London Bridge is a summarized transcript of that hearing.

The first order of business was to close down the bridge to ensure that further damage caused by the traffic of clopping hooves would not occur. This was the brainchild of the Minister of Transport (MOT) who suggested to "lock her up". Unknown to the queen and GLOW, this action was actually MOT's idea of a final solution to the problem. He thought that if they'd slap up a couple detour signs, after a few years, commuters would forget the bridge was ever there. His motive was to keep costs down, so that more of the Transport budget could be allocated to his private kipper fund. MOT's parsimony is evident throughout the verse.

GLOW's first suggestion is to repair the bridge using "silver and gold". The rationale here is that as long as the bridge needs fixing, they may as well make it look nice. It is not just any old bridge in town, it's THE London Bridge, gosh darn it! MOT claims that the Transport Department does not have "gold and silver" in its inventory of raw materials. What MOT does not mention is that he drives a Mercedes Bens carriage, and he owns a summer home in Martha's Vineyard.

Sensing MOT's frugality, GLOW sarcastically proposes that the bridge be reconstructed using "pins and needles". MOT, oblivious to the ridicule, promptly defeats the idea arguing that "Pins and needles will bend and break". Although it is not represented in the song, GLOW responds to MOT with a condescending "Do ya think so?"

Understanding that they will get nowhere unless they partially concede to MOT's thrift, GLOW suggests using the cheap materials of "wood and clay" which works well in the song since it rhymes so easily with MOT's retort "Wood and clay will wash away." True, wood and clay would wash away, but not if they used NAILS to hold the wood together and secure the clay. Since nails were not included in the proposal, MOT's position is vindicated.

Finally, GLOW reaches the obvious conclusion that as the bridge is constructed from stones, stones should be used in its renovation. Note GLOW's wisdom in this instance. They have the foresight to use the phrase "stones so strong" in the event that this method becomes ratified, it is in the public record that strong stones are demanded, knowing full well that MOT would attempt to apply feeble stones if given his druthers. MOT agrees to the stone approach, as he remembers that the forty thousand-acre farm he had recently purchased contains thousands of stones, and he would be able to sell them to the government for quite a profit.

So, the stone is passed. The queen is pleased and assigns a committee to research the best stones for the job. Bids are sent out to all the kingdom's contractors. But the bridge is never repaired as evidenced by the bearing presence of the last stanza.

After years and years of political positioning and filibustering, and after the death of millions of horses and the destruction of countless ornate hats, the issue resurfaces in Parliament in the late 1960's. The problem has grown more immediate with the advent of automated transportation. Restoration is no longer an option. The bridge has become an unwanted wart upon the face of London society. Parliament decrees to employ "garage sale" ideology - one man's garbage is another man's TV tray. The bridge is sold to an American who places it in the desert of Arizona. And that is where it remains.



***Note: some of you may remember this piece from a different web site I used to have. And you are probably wondering, "Why the hell did he re-post this crap?" And I tell you, Leper Pop is my personal living cyber memoir, and it makes me feel warm and squishy knowing my crap will live on the Internet long after I'm gone until Blogspot's servers are overwritten with Chinese propaganda in a few years. I'll be posting some of the other pieces from the prior web site in the near future. I apologize in advance.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm first!




Remember those days?

Anonymous said...

I guess not.

Well, I'm second anyways.

power tool said...

First!

power tool said...

damn, i guess i wasn't.