wordsout by Godfrey Rust                                                Occasional pieces for colleagues   HOME  



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
              that if you want 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 all here 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 all 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
tt 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 
Angola,
              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.