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Songs: Work's All Right (if it's a proper job)

notes / gigs / releases

I was a bin-man
I was a road sweeper
I worked in shops
Between the terms
Then I found prosperity
In Epidemiology
I am the nice young man
On the ground floor

When I was a boy I used to dread
The very idea of getting out of bed
To go to work to earn a wage
But now I find I've reached an age
Where getting up is almost easy
(Though I've never got used to it)
And once you get there you get you get a nice cup of tea
And plenty of time to drink it

Because work's all right when it's a proper job
Don't be put off by a holiday job
Because work's all right when it's a proper job
You can have a lot of fun

Sat at your desk talking to someone who
Could be up to thirty years older than you
Play with your email, swapping the goss
Sit around for hours and bitch about the boss
And though they may force you to wear a shirt
And waste the best part of the day
Suggesting that you might do some work
Well, at least you're getting paid

Because work's all right when it's a proper job
Don't be put off by a saturday job
Because work's all right when it's a proper job
You can have a lot of fun

Nicking bits of stationary
Getting pissed at the Christmas party
Looking forward to the weekend
Maybe even making a few new friends

Getting up is still not easy
And I'll never get used to it
But when I'm there I get a nice cup of tea
And plenty of time to drink it

Yeah work's all right when it's a proper job
Don't be put off by a holiday job
Because work's all right when it's a proper job
You can have a cup of tea
Have a cup of tea for me

Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

My first ever single! You can tell how excited I was about it by how much STUFF there is on it - this was all done by myself on a four-track cassette recorder in My New Flat (i.e. upstairs in the loft in my flat on Kirby Road in Leicester), so I had to be pretty INGENIOUS to cram it all in, but I was determined that if somebody was FINALLY going to let me put a record out, I had to put THE LOT into it. So I did.

It all came about when Matt (who I'd been in the K-Stars with) and Sean (whose flat Matt lived in) from Fortuna Pop! told me that they were putting together an EP of songs about work, and that they wanted to put one of my songs on it. I got very very VERY excited about this - it seemed to me that everybody else that I knew at that time apart from ME had had a record out, honestly I was getting quite paranoid about it, so it was something of a relief to be FINALLY climbing on board the ROCK TRAIN. Imagine my upset, then, when I found out that the song they wanted to use was "Billy Jones Is Dead" - not because of the song itself, which after all is STILL in the live set of my solo self AND The Validators, but because of the rather ropey version of it which they wanted. Said ropey version came from the very first cassette I'd recorded all by myself, "Free At Last", which was about 70 MINUTES worth of songs. There were a few OK songs on it (including "Fucking Hippy" and "The Perfect Love Song"), but I had yet to master things like Guitar Playing and Singing, and was trying to do TECHNO DRUMS on everything despite never really having HEARD any Techno, so to say it was "ropey" is to be POLITE and TACTFUL.

So yes, I REALLY didn't want my one and only CHANCE to be ruined before it had even started, and so MOANED on at them to let me have another song instead. "Do you HAVE any other songs about work?" they asked, and I, of course, said "Of COURSE I have! I'll send you a tape!"

As always in these situations I thus had to go home and WRITE it. I thought - correctly, as it turned out - that the other three bands on the compilation (John Sims, The Family Way, and Go-Kart 800) would be writing songs about how AWFUL and IMPOSING it was to have a job, and so decided to do the OPPOSITE. This always seems like a good idea to me, especially on compilations where you've got to do SOMETHING different to stand out, and it always BEFUDDLES me to find so many other people content to say the BLEEDING OBVIOUS, but hey! they always seem to be quite happy doing so, so I shall complain no further.

Handily at that time I was really getting into my job (as a Principal Clerk in the University of Leicester's Department Of Epidemiology), especially as I was sharing my office with a lovely woman called Marjorie (mentioned in the song) and got to go off to other countries with my BOSS to help at conferences. Also handily, at least for the song, most of my friends were determinedly unemployed at the time, and there would be many arguments in the pub about how Proper Jobs (as opposed to temp work, Saturday jobs or holiday jobs, which was our only other experience of working life at that time) COULD be enjoyable if you gave them the chance. THUS I had plenty of material to go into the song, and so the writing of it turned out to be pretty easy.

I seem to vaguely remember it taking quite a while for the single to come out, although it may have only been a couple of months - I was in three bands at the time and turned out an hour's worth of songs on tape every four or five months, so a couple of months then is equivalent to a year or so now - so I put the finished song on my latest tape, "What's So Bad About Being A Grown-Up", which is listed twice on the single's inlay, once, CORRECTLY, without a question mark, and once with. Sean and Matt took it upon themselves to make up catalogue numbers and, indeed, titles for my previous cassettes (adding a compilation of Voon material), and asked people to write to me to buy them. I even provided an email and web address, a hugely cumbersome multi-SLASHED affair like we used to have in those days, but nobody ever wrote to me.

We did a few gigs together, me, John Sims and The Family Way, to promote it, and that was a LOT of fun, and Everett True reviewed the single in Melody Maker, saying "Mark Hibbett sings sweetly about working for a living" - I remember this without looking it up because for about FIVE YEARS it was the ONLY "name" bit of press I had! That review came out whilst I was in Colchester on an AWFUL, MISERABLE residential course for a week, and I distinctly remember sitting by the lake telling someone I didn't really know all about it, and it sounding less impressive out loud than it had in my head.

I CLUNG to those words though, and God Bless Everett True they kept me going for a long long time. They needed to!

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