wordsout by godfrey rust
< colleagues >

The Fat Controller calypso

for Graham Churchill, May 1997, celebrating 20 years as an Executive of MCPS (and lately PRS)

Well the story is a legend 
     so I’m going to write it down
of that day now twenty years ago 
     when a man rode into town  
with a Brylcreem quiff and an Elvis voice 
     and black shoes and white sox—
he was nothing but a Hound Dog 
     on the trail of Harry Fox.

He was slim and mean and hungry
     and looking for a fight 
and he knew enough to make life hard 
     for Mechanical Copyright.
So one day there came the showdown 
     with the boss Montgomery 
who said “I don't know how to deal with you 
     so you’d better come and work for me”. 

O Mr Churchill (the Fat Controller)
it was only the proof of the old motif
to stop piracy and payola            
then set a thief to catch a thief.

Well he moved into an office
     and he sat there all alone,
he put his feet up on the desk 
     and he picked up the telephone
and twenty years now further on 
     and we’re here all waiting yet    
for him to finish the call, put his feet on the floor, 
     and come out to have a cigarette.

Don’t mess with the Fat Controller, 
     you’ll take a lot of heat,
you need deep deep pockets and a real good brief 
     when you go off down that street.
Yes I know he’s got a lot of balls, 
     cos when he sends someone a writ
there’s a pretty good chance it’ll come right back 
     with Bollocks written over it.

Even when you’re playing on his team, 
     he’ll keep you up to speed,
you can never be sure which tactical 
     response you’re going to need.
When he says he’s playing Devil’s advocate 
     then you’ll be right to lose some sleep,
but if he spreads his arms and says “Trust me!” 
     then you know you’re in trouble deep.

O Mr Churchill (the Fat Controller)
he’s got a nose for a commercial wheeze 
so when something smells like gorgonzola
you gotta call in the big cheese.

But Graham he’s a mild mannered man, 
     as gentle as a child
and I have to say there’s only once or twice 
     I’ve seen him just a little riled.
When’s the going’s tough in the Boardroom 
     he can always keep his cool 
even under the torrid questioning 
     of Sarah Rodgers and Tony Pool. 

There was a time he met with Edward P 
     and he was tempted something sore 
but the art of keeping self-control’s 
     a case of Murphy’s law.
Yet the greatest test of character, 
     and of this there is no doubt,
was the fateful day on the cricket pitch 
     when Colin Fraser gave him OUT

O Mr Churchill (the demon bowler)
stood his ground and did not budge:
he knows it would be safer just to roll a                
dice than let a lawyer be a judge.

Mr C he got a way with words 
     I can surely testify
and if something’s not nefarious 
     then it’s anathema that’s why.
He knows the power of language 
     when he’s got a point to win
it doesn’t matter too much just what it means 
     but if it sounds right then put it in.

And he knows to turn the magic on 
     in everything he do,
he use the outrage of Crispin Evans 
     and the charm of mon ami Jean-Loup.
He deals with Constant irritation 
     with an appropriate amount of bull 
(though he stays away from Roger Brighten 
     whenever the moon is full).

But some people got a special gift 
     that when a clanger they first drop,
they dig themselves into a hole, 
     and they just can’t seem to stop,
and when it comes to excavation, 
     I gotta say Big G’s the Prince:
just mark the spot, hand him the spade, 
     and mention "Russell Flints".

O Mr Churchill (the Fat Controller)
these days is a little more smart,
so if you don't want to dig a hole a
rule is never talk to him about art.

Nowadays if you want a smart career, 
     education is the way, 
you gotta get O level English 
     (or at least an MBA),
but the Fat Controller’s alma mater 
      save an awful lot of study and strife 
because he got his education in 
     the University of Life.

And some people they are popular 
     most everywhere they pass 
and the Fat Controller he takes good care 
     to mix with every rank and class.
He could turn up to a reception 
    for Mother Theresa or Saddam Hussein
and they would say O Mr Churchill, 
     how nice to see you again

He’s been celebrated (the Fat Controller),
his health is drunk and appetites gorged,
his career is feted from Hong Kong to 
where’er an AP Licence is forged.

Well MIDEM is his bailiwick, 
     he’s the King of the Palais!
He knows every dodgy midprice company 
     and gives them all AP2A.
They all ask him for favours, 
     some he won’t and some he will, 
and then he’ll dine with the men from Telstar 
     but doesn't spoof for the bill.

He’s a legend in his lunchtime 
     (power breakfasts he doesn’t do)
everybody in Cannes will stop and say 
     “Hey Controller, how are you?”
And then for four hours every evening, 
     he takes his exercise regimen
he’ll leave the Palais sharp at six o’clock 
     and he’s reached the Martinez by ten.

He’s always talking (the Fat Controller)
so if you need to get to bed
don't go walking with the Croisette stroller
but stay with Frans de Wit instead.

Well the Controller he a talent spotter 
     and he can pick a rising star,
it's a gift he’s had from his bygone days 
     as a music publishah.
But I have to say his recent signings 
     are rather lacking in finesse—   
Brandon Hannan in a suit can’t quite compare 
     with Joni Mitchell in a yellow dress.

Well he’s battled with Warner and Polygram 
     and BMG and BEL,
(he’s not a Euro-sceptic but 
     he knows about EC-Hell)
and after ten long years of fighting 
     at last we drink this poisoned cup  
for Crispin drew his Direct Distribution, and said 
     “Reach for SGAE, the GEMA’s up”.

O Mr Churchill didn’t go to Munich
to see the Germans surrender then

it’s somehow fitting that that the final deal 
should be made in a gambling den.

Today you gotta be computer literate 
     and some people they find it tough,
but the Controller him a demon for technology 
     & he just can’t get enough.
The day they brought his PC in 
     he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat,
he reached across to the monitor 
     and switched it on—just like that!

He mastered the complex programs 
     that are on his screen’s menu 
and he’s working through his emails now, 
     and he’s reached 1992.
And some say its because of his Draconian style 
     and some say it’s only hype
that they call him the Great Dictator, 
     but it’s only cos he doesn’t type.

O Mr Churchill (the Great Dictator)
he says he’s yesterday’s man all right. 
But with his skills as a negotiator
It looks like yesterday’s future is bright

Well the world is an uncertain place 
     of this you can be sure,
you need a role that’s indispensable 
     if you want to be secure.
So his latest job description 
     is a stroke of genius—
licensing mechanicals 
     for the members of the PRS.

People say the change won’t suit him, 
     but Graham he just smile,
for the role is simply perfect 
     for the Fat Controller’s style.
If he hears you making music now 
     he just walk up to you and say
"I’m not sure what right you’re using 
     but here’s a invoice anyway".

O Mr Churchill, the new alliance
will surely bring him even wider fame:
he can now enforce the maximum compliance
for anything you care to name.

Well now we’re all into planning, 
     and Graham has a strategy
to ensure the growth of business 
     through increasing productivity.
So now you never make a single deal 
     where ten will surely do—
he’s going for a century of AP schemes 
     and he’s already up to 82.

So Execs they come and Execs they go, 
     the 5th floor its seen a crowd,
some may make a Bob or two, 
     and some they’re just too Lowde,
some will Rowe too hard or Rust away, 
     or have Les-ter do to fall
but the Fat Controller plays a waiting game—
     he’s got De Wit to outlast them all

Well after twenty years you’d surely think 
     that everything would now be plain to see  
but his name it means “the Mysterious one”, 
     and a mystery remains to me—
but when the scheme of life is over 
     and we face the great audit in the sky
we will learn at last the name of Graham’s first group, 
     and who recorded them—and why!

O Mr Churchill (the Fat Controller)
when we look back on these 20 years
you’ve made a loss to rock and roll a  
gain for music without frontiers.

Performed in the boardroom at MCPS in Streatham on May 1st, 1997.