Live It Up 5: Punch and Judy

The place The Troggs had for me in the 60s and Sweet in the early 70s was taken by Marillion in the early 80s.

Marillion have been forever tagged with the Prog Rock label and while their first songs – especially the 17 minute long Grendel and most of the debut album Script For a Jester’s Tear – fit that bill (which was why I got into them in the first place) by the time of Fugazi they had mainly moved on to a more guitar based rock sound.

Their initial success, though, shows that Prog wasn’t as moribund a genre as its detractors would have had it.

Mind you their third and fourth LPs, Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws were those most Prog of things, concept albums (though arguably one concept album spread over two releases.)

I think I first saw them on television on The Oxford Road Show (who remembers that!) when this was one of the songs they played. Despite it being from Fugazi there is still a hint of Prog and echoes of Genesis.

This clip, though, is from Top of the Pops. Check out Fish – with hair!

Marillion: Punch and Judy

The Apple by Michel Faber

Crimson Petal Stories. Canongate, 2011, 206 p, plus xi p Foreword.

 The Apple cover

Faber’s foreword tells of the countless letters he was sent praising his novel The Crimson Petal and the White, or lamenting its inconclusive ending, the entreaties he received to let his readers know what happened next. This volume contains stories featuring characters who appeared in the earlier book (which I have not read, but did watch the television adaptation) but only those tales that demanded to exist. The rest he had to let slip away.

It has to be said that, here, Faber’s writing is masterful. In a few deft strokes he conjures up the times he is writing about and the characters he depicts.

Christmas in Silver Street sees sixteen year-old but nevertheless experienced prostitute Sugar give little Christopher, the brothel’s drudge of a linen-fetcher, a surprise Christmas gift of chicken and pastries.
In Clara and the Rat Man Clara has fairly recently been reduced to prostitution by an insensitive reference from a former employer. The Rat Man, a veteran of the Afghan War gives her a shilling a week to grow the nail of her middle finger and, once it has grown, ten more to insert it in a particular place while his dog is engaged in pit ratting.
Miss Emmeline Curlew’s father worries that if she doesn’t marry while young she never will, as she has inherited his aquiline nose, long face and strong jaw. Along with a photograph, Chocolate Hearts from the New World are an addition to the courteous reply upon which she muses after receiving it from a US slave owner (a contrast to the usual vitriol directed to her) to her entreaties to give up slavery.
The Fly, and its Effect upon Mr Bodley is the tale of the discomfiture of that gentleman who is unmanned by the memory of a fly landing on the buttock of a prostitute displaying herself as he decided which orifice he preferred to penetrate, a discomfiture two days later in the same house in Fitzrovia unallayed by the allures of a new girl, whose name is Ping or Pang but whom the establishment calls Lily, whom they are teaching English starting with the essentials (a four letter word of course.) Mr Bodley is prevailed on to sleep things off but is unprepared, “‘I can’t sleep without a nightgown. It’s not natural.’”
In The Apple, Sugar is awoken by an evangelist singing beneath her window. She observes the singer with a child and is enraged by the blow the child receives from her carer after she drops the apple she has been given. This prompts Sugar to rush out to remonstrate but the pair have gone. This along with Sugar’s perusal of the latest Trollope novels and penny dreadfuls makes her resolve to seize her chance of escape should it arise. It is counter-intuitive (brave?) for an author to include the thought that Sugar has about reading as “an admission of defeat …. it shows that you believe other lives are more interesting than yours. All of it is trickery, a Punch and Judy show for the gullible masses.”
William Rackham hopes his Medicine does not contain morphine or cocaine as he ingested other narcotics just an hour before. Sitting at his desk he recalls the way his life was turned upside down by Sugar.
A Mighty Horde of Women in Very Big Hats, Advancing is narrated by an old man in a care home in the nineteen nineties. He was born the day Queen Victoria died and brought to England from his home in Australia in early 1908. At his new school he falls foul of the unwritten codes of English life. “That’s Britain for you … how much unease can be generated out of bloody nothing.” He remembers the day of a huge suffragette march in June 1908. In what might be seen as Faber’s riposte to those who questioned Crimson Petal’s ending. “I do understand how maddening it is to get so far, and not know what happened next.” The narrator’s mother Sophie had once revealed to him she had been taken away from her home by her governess, a Miss Sugar, because she had felt unsafe there. “Life defies our intentions to be rational; it misleads and teases us until we are driven to do foolish things.” He also berates the reader’s tendency to bring sex into everything. Born one day earlier he’d have been a Victorian, “And you know what those Victorians were like.”

After reading the stories in The Apple we know exactly what those Victorians were like.

Pedant’s corner:- “the Virginias” (in 1850? Didn’t Virginia only split into two States once the US Civil War began in 1861?) “‘I had to go see my father’” (go to see,) “outside of” (outside, no ‘of.’) “Go play with” (go and play with,) “came to nought” (naught. The sense is ‘nothing,’ not ‘zero.’ There is a difference.) Some missing commas before direct speech, “prime minister” (Prime Minister.)

Live It Up 46: Assassing

Another one from before Marillion became big.

I hadn’t heard this version of the song till I looked it up for this post. On the basis of hearing Punch and Judy and the band’s performance on The Oxford Road Show I bought the album it’s from (Fugazi, the first Marillion record I ever bought) and the track on there is over 7 minutes long.

This is a somewhat brutal edit for the single release (and, I assume, radio play.)

Marillion: Assassing (7” edit)

The longer album version is here, should you wish to sample it.

Live It Up 21: He Knows You Know

A bit of Prog devant la lettre I discovered tardily as my first introduction to Marillion was the later Punch and Judy. I soon delved into their back catalogue. This was track two on their first album Script for a Jester’s Tear and had given the band a no 35 hit in the UK in 1983. I like the way the last lines of the verses are different but rhyme with each other (as well as the “poison in your head.”)

Marillion: He Knows You Know

free hit counter script