26/2/07 Rhyme and reason

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  It appears to be true of writers, even aspirant, spasmodic, lazy and confidence-lacking ones like your correspondent.  I may have made myself ready by sitting down a couple of weeks ago with a notepad to write 20 verses to a new song-in-potential and completing the exercise. This morning a prompting made me get up in time to pick up the notebook and write another page or two for a different song-in-potential, of a different calibre altogether, one where I feel for once I have something to say.

From a songwriting point of view I find the most powerful injunction, the one that makes the difference between writing that is fluent and free and the normal experience of sweat-and-struggle is Forget about rhyme.  Rhyme can become, if you like, part of the post-production or editing.

In my earlier days however it was a driver and, more than that, a source of creativity. It would juxtapose elements my logical mind would never have juxtaposed. I occasionally – only occasionally – came clean about it, as when a friend asked about an image he found striking but unpleasant in the little-heard song Portobello Slam: ‘Why did you say the shot missed and killed a swan? It’s a great image – red blood on pure white and all that, but why a swan?.’  Me, in a rare fit of honesty: ‘It rhymed with  gone.’

OK since you asked, here’s the whole song:

The Portobello


The sun was there for once this year

The grass was dry as ash

The bookies were disturbed by this

And the share price took a bash

And Liam from the Borders

With his cronies in the van

Was facing Jessie from


In the Portobello Slam


The crowd were at each others throats

They didn’t like the sun

Jessie put her helmet on

And promised them some fun

Now from up the wicker tower

She gave the scene a scan

Said she’d break some records, break some

At the Portobello Slam


Play commenced at midday

With a roar of cheap machines

Liam’s team were cracking

And they left some bloody scenes




Took the left arm off a man

Left it sticking upright in the ground

At the Portobello Slam


Liam looked across the field

The referees were gone

He aimed a ball at Jessie’s head

But missed and killed a swan

Thirteen points deducted

And a lifetime’s cocaine ban

He put a contract on the judge

Of the Portobello Slam


Some kid behind the Canons Gait stand

Held a mirror to the sun

Then dropped it by a pile of grass

Till the orgy round was done

Then Liam saw the wall of flame

And set off the alarm

And caused the biggest ever stampede

At the Portobello Slam


As the players scattered in the crowd

Jessie saw her chance

Hoisted Liam on a rope

And said ‘That’s the loser’s dance’

But that was the last we saw of her

As the firemen broke the dam

And swept away the evidence

Of the Portobello Slam



It’s a shame it couldn’t wait till next

It would’ve been live on Sky

It’ll still make the history books

Two hundred people died

Me I’m gonna take a photograph

To get the feeling of where I am

Norman Lamont, News at 10

At the Portobello Slam


Copyright and all rights reserved Norman Lamont

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