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We must have a speech from a minister

Posted by Simon Parke, 05 March 2018, 10.07am

It’s 1941, and Noel Coward is disillusioned with the ministerial speeches on offer.

It’s clearly from another time; and it clearly isn’t.

We must have a speech from a minister.

We must have a speech from the minister
It’s what we’ve been trained to expect
We’re faced with defeat and despair and disaster
We couldn’t be losing our colonies faster
We know we haven’t the guns to defend
The ‘Mermaid’ at Rye or the pier at Southend
You have no idea how we’ve grown to depend
In hours of crisis
On whacking great slices
Of verbal evasion and dissimulation
A nice governmental appeal to the Nation
We’d listen to gladly with awe and respect
We know that the moment is sinister
And what we’ve been earnestly trained to expect
When such moments we reach
It’s a lovely long speech
(Not a comment or chat
About this, about that)
But a really long speech
An extremely long speech
An ambiguous speech from a minister.

We must have a speech from a minister
We don’t mind a bit who it is
As long as we get that drab lack of conviction
The dismal, self-conscious inadequate diction.
We find Mr Churchill a trifle uncouth
His ill-represented passion for telling the truth
His ‘Eye for an Eye’ his ‘Tooth for a Tooth’
Is violent, too snappy
We’d be far more happy
With some old Appeasers inert peroration
We’d give ourselves up to complete resignation
Refusing to worry or get in a frizz
We know that the moment is sinister
We’ve already said we don’t mind who it is
We’ll fight on the beach
For a really long speech
(Not a breezy address
Or a post-script on Hess)
But a lovely long speech
A supremely long speech
An embarrassing speech from a minister.

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