"I WANT to be a wagon," said my three year-old son. Nobody knew what he was on about but he persisted, singing: "I wanna be a wagon, wagon, wagon." He did this with sufficient tunefulness for a seventies throwback like myself to pick up that he was trying to perform the Gary Glitter classic "Leader of the Gang". (Do you wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang?) Reproducing a melody accurately is something he must get from his mother. The propensity to mishear lyrics seems to come with the territory at that age. I heard of a primary teacher who discovered one of her charges one Christmas singing: "Away in a minger, no crisps for a bear".
Should my son ever display a talent for consciously adapting a few lines of song for his own purposes, then he will probably have got that talent, if that is the word, from his dad. As I finished my first teaching placement, in my head I was played out to: (Tune: "Bye Bye Johnny" by Status Quo): I got myself a class of S2 dames, They're always getting up to fun and games.
They're swinging from the lights I say: Now that ain't cool, You don't behave like that in my high school, But they don't listen to me 'til I sing this song, And though I tell them not to, they all sing along.
I said: sit down, shut up, Sit down, shut up ...
At one time this ran to three verses. If only I had possessed the vocal skills to belt it out to a packed hall. Watching the likes of Sydney Devine on BBC1's "Och Around the Clock", a gently tongue in cheek appraisal of Scottish pop music, I do wonder if stage presence is ultimately more important than musical ability. Perhaps I should invest in a rhinestone suit.
Being a non-musical lyricist, I find that when people do try out my compositions they often end up chopping out words and rearranging things to get the damned piece to scan.
Now, just in case our new courses are largely designed by non-teaching educationists, I propose the following anthem to Higher Still. The tune is the "Jeely Piece" song: Oh ye cannae teach mah subject in a multi-level class, Fifteen hundred eager weans will never ever pass, Be it English, French or German, be it physics, maths, PE, The odds against them getting through are 99 to three.
Yeah, I know. Don't ring us, we'll ring you.
Gregor Steele will be starting work on a new album as soon as his photos come back from the chemist.