Sunny Weston-Super-Mare

Wednesday, 27 April 2011
London has Margate, and Bristol has Weston-super-Mare, a Victorian seaside resort that still brings in high-profile tourists, including Rich and Eddie from Bottom who famously holidayed there.

Richie:  Weston-super-mare, eh? Weston-super-mare.  [forearm gesture]
Eddie:   No, you've lost me there.
Richie:  Come on... Weston-super-ma-a-a-are!  [forearm gesture, pelvic thrust]  Hey, I'll tell you what me old pal, I had some bloody narrow squeaks in Weston-super-mare.

In 1988 the Wurzels released ‘Sunny Weston-Super-Mare’ as a vinyl single on the ‘Far End’ record label. The title track was written and arranged by Pete Budd and it was produced as a promotional item for the Weston-Super-Mare tourist board - not that Weston needs any promotion, of course.

The tune was taken from a little-known German folk song (‘Das Humbta Tatara’) It came in a picture sleeve showing a cartoon seaside scene with donkeys on the beach, sandcastles and the pier. The reverse of the sleeve has the lyrics to the song – allowing fans to sing along as they listened to the instrumental version of the song which appeared on the ‘b' side. A sort of fore-runner to Karaoke, but better, since the Wurzels are involved, and therefore it is awesome.

But while on the surface, this is a song about a lovely seaside resort full of fish n' chips, piers, buckets, spades and arcades, as with all Wurzel songs there is a deeper meaning behind the lyrics, highlighting the plight of Britain's hard-working farmers, and the pressures facing the industry. As always, the lyrics are as relevant today as they were then.

Farming is srs bsns.

So, let's take a closer look, shall we?

I packed me bags and left the farm/I packed it up for sure/I swore I’d never drive/A tractor anymore.

If you're not from a rural area, it's doubtful you've ever looked a farmer in the face. Farms are huge parcels of land that have generally been in families for generation after generation. There is huge pressure on those families to keep the farms in the family - no-one wants to be the one who breaks hundreds of years of family history and many young people are find themselves pressured into a career, and taking on the huge responsibility of running and owning the land, while secretly harbouring desires to open up a shop selling jewelery made out of macaroni and beads to people with more money than sense.

Why not accessorise with something that could also be your lunch?
But those who are strong enough to turn their backs on the family farm often find themselves shunned, or held in contempt:

Old Mother said ”Thee’se must be mad”/As I walked out the door/And Father shouted – “Lazy lout!/Don’t come back no more”.

In this song, our brave individual has successfully ignored family pressure, turned his back on farmer and headed:

Off to sunny Weston-Super-Mare, Super-Mare, Super-Mare/I’m off to sunny Weston-Super-Mare/They say you’ll always find a welcome way down there.

Sunny Weston-Super-Mare
Our brave hero arrives at his chosen location, musing on what he's left behind and still struggling to justify his decision to walk away from farming. Studies have shown that many farmers who give up their farms fear losing power, control and their identities.

A typical West Country farmer
A farmer’s life is very good/As people often say/Lots of clean fresh air/And cider every day

And yet, he knows farming isn't for him:

But when the harvest time comes around/The sun it dries your lips/I’d sooner lay upon the beach/And eat me fish and chips.

Mmm. Yummy.
Having wrestled with his conscious a little further, the former-farmer's resolve strengthens and he begins to compare his knew life, with what he has left behind - the hard life of the farmer in a role he has never wanted.

I’d longed to walk a golden beach/Where shady palm trees grow/Forget that muckin’ out/And no more fields to mow

..clearly, the long hours working in the field and the stress of his decision has affected his mind, as Weston-super-Mare is not particularly well-known for it's shady palm trees, nor it's golden beach, as much as it's pier and grey water.
Palm trees and golden sands at Weston
The icy cold at winter time/That makes you freeze and shake/I’ve left it all behind me/I’ve really made the break.

Ah, thankfully, the breakdown is only temporary, as he compares his new life to winter on the farm. When temperatures are dipping into the minuses, the last place you want to be is outdoors. And farmers are outdoors pretty much /all/ of the time, chasing animals and crops around a field, driving tractors and...ploughing and things. Probably. Look, I'm not a farmer, ok?

Another typical West Country farmer
If paradise is half as nice/Then, this is where I’ll stay/The farmyard’s far away/From this lovely sandy bay.
I’ll walk along the promenade/Forget that country lane/Just write and tell the folks back home/I won’t be back again.

Ah, and there we go. The last doubt is finally cast from his mind, as head held high, our hero heads into the future. He knows what his decision will cost him, that he will most likely be excommunicated from his family, written out of the will and forever spoken about in hushed tones by the family who do dare to acknowledge he was once a part of his family.

For our hero however, the future is as exciting, bright and vibrant as the night-life in sunny Weston-super-Mare.
The future's bright. The future's Weston.


That there cider Tom said...

An insightful and enjoyable deconstruction - nice one!

Post a Comment



Total Pageviews