Sunday, June 22, 2003

THEY SAY ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YAAA: We've never been big fans of Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, and find much of the work that he trots out to justify his position and barrel of sack or whatever it is he gets is just barely above the level of the Reader's Poems letters in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. But he's surpassed himself with his poems for the 21st Birthday of William Windsor, next-but-one in line to be unelected head of the United Kingdom.

Motion - in the manner of an elderly aunt at sea in the Woolworths Record Department - has decided to make his poem funky and relevant to young people by giving it an A-side and a B-side, in the way records had, erm, before William was old enough to realise. Oh, but it gets worse - the A-side is in 'rap' form. Apparently. Now, we're no Chuck D, but... oh, judge for yourself:

Better stand back
Here's an age attack,
But the second in line
Is dealing with it fine.
It's a threshold, a gateway,
A landmark birthday;
It's a turning of the page,
A coming of age.
It's a day to celebrate,
A destiny, a fate;
It's a taking to the wing,
A future thing.
Better stand back
Here's an age attack,
But the second in line
Is dealing with it fine.
It's a sign of what's to come,
A start, and then some;
It's a difference growing,
A younger sort of knowing.


Uh... yeah. That's rap, that is. If your experience of rap runs to Morris Minor and the Majors and Ant Rap, of course. The other poem is equally bad, but at least isn't pretending to be in a toaster stylee.

Motion contends that vinyl singles and LPs had A-sides and B-sides (erm, except for LPs, of course, which had Side 1 and Side 2) and that they were usually very different, either in form or tone. Which could sometimes be true of singles, but very rarely was the case with albums. But he uses this as a metaphor for how William is a new type of royal, both young and doing unexpected things - playing polo, going to a really expensive school, getting into a really good university, making mutterings about doing duty... hang on; is this the right list? - and traditional. Motion could, of course, have also used the god Janus as a metaphor for this. Although with Andrew M's almost neddy-like devotion to rhyming, we can see why he might have chosen to avoid that.


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