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True Brit (the ballad of Andrew Cornes)

for Andrew Cornes, on his departure in 1984 from All Souls, Langham Place, where he had been Director of Training, to lead a church in Pittsburgh, PA. A country and western talking song 

Now if you find yourself in New York State, and you got no place to go,
and if you leave the coast and you head south west five hundred miles or so,
then sure as a rooster don't lay eggs you'll be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
and if you make yourself known you'll find some mighty fine folks and they'll be glad to entertain ya
But things weren't good in Pittsburgh, there were bad things going down,
many men had been and gone and not cleaned up that town,
and the law-abiding citizens were fearful and forlorn -
there was just one man could make it right, and his name was Andrew Cornes
        Andrew Cornes, Andrew Cornes,
        No bull has been invented that he won't take by the horns. 

He was a giant of a man, he was six foot four in a dog collar and flat feet,
but from the size of his belly you'd never believe how much that man could eat.
He was mean, he was fast, there was no man on earth so fit,
and the townsfolk took one look at him and they christened him "True Brit"
        True Brit, True Brit,
        There was just one way to save that town and Andrew Cornes was it.

Well he started life as a baby, so we understand
but any fool could see that he would be a most unusual man.
They marked him out as special when he first began to speak
for his first word was 'Daddy', but it was said in the original Greek.

He went along to playgroup at the tender age of three,
and while other kids spelled CAT he spelled out ESCHATOLOGY,
and they sent him to a school called Eton, with many a dook and prince,
and they must have taught him well cos he's been eatin ever since
        Ever since, ever since,
        to see him scoffing chocolate cake is a sight to make you wince.

He came to the big city where his teaching brought him fame,
he was a legend in his lunchtime, he became a household name
and despite his popularity you could hardly call him vain
but perhaps he thinks those glasses make him look Michael Caine
        Michael Caine, Michael Caine,
        Not a lot of people know that Andrew looks like Michael Caine.

He was a tough taskmaster, he was hard but he was fair too,
He always expected a man to do what a man had got to do
and there was many a proud man swaggered through the Waldegrave Hall door
to find the things that Andrew showed him there would shake him to the Core
        To the Core, to the Core
        but even when they'd finished they would still come back for more!

Well people came to Core Year, and the people they have gone
and the overhead projector still goes on and on and on
and Andrew said "As sure as my name's A C J C
I'll make the thing full-time and call it A S C A T"
        A S, C A T
        It was easier to say than the All Souls College of Applied Theology

One day some desperadoes came to town to do just as they please
and to cause some trouble with their fundamental heresies,
but Andrew sensed the danger, he quickly spun around
and he reached for his Basic Method and he mowed those liberals down
        Mowed them down, mowed them down,       
        He strung up their theology and he rode them out of town

He never had much time for women, he had no place for a wife,
He said a man in the saddle could do without that kind of trouble in his life.
When it came to cleaning and ironing and stuff, well then women were just fine,
and I wouldn't say he was chauvinist, but then again...well, never mind.
Well many tried and many failed to make that man their catch
until the day that Kate rode into town and Andrew met his match.
As long as I'm alive the memory stays inside my head
of how pigs were flying over London the day that Andrew Cornes was wed
        Cornes was wed, Cornes was wed
        and it proved the age of miracles was certainly not dead

Well the time comes as it comes to all when they had to make a move,
they had done all that they had to do, there was nothing left to prove
and he had to find his dream, he had to find his destiny
and he had to find somewhere they'd give him more notices than three.
But without some form of transport he knew they wouldn't get too far,
so he gave one final notice: could he borrow someone's car?
He looked around his oldest friends and all of them refused
till a kindly man stepped in the breach, and his name was Richard Bewes
        Richard Bewes, Richard Bewes,
        He loaned them an old banger that he hardly ever used.

So they headed east and they headed west to find where they should be,
and he started up a kind of wandering guru's ministry
and he headed toward the Holy Land in the footsteps of St Paul
but he reached Damascus quite unchanged - well, you can't win 'em all.
He found a likely prospect, some kind of church in Greece
but it needed a major building project at the very least
and he tried baptising people in the river and the sea
but locusts and wild honey just weren't his cup of tea
        Cup of tea, cup of tea,
        with scones and jam, said Andrew, is more the thing for me!
        (Aaa-ooh) (Corny key change)

But no matter where they went they never felt that they should stay,
no town they found was big enough for both of them, OK?
So with empty hands and heavy hearts they came back to All Souls
and to cap it all they had to give the Rector back his Rolls
        (Aaa-ooh) (Even more corny second key change)
Then finally there came the call to save the USA
and Andrew said, how can we go so very far away
when we have no form of transport? But his wife said, Don't despair
we may have no means or money but we've plenty of hot air
        Hot air, hot air.
        Nine years of Andrew's sermons is the fuel to get us there!

Well the people stood in wonder as they carried out their plan -
is it a bird? Is it a plane? Who is this Superman?
Then someone said that it's a hoax, and that's how we all know
Exactly how great hoaxes from little A Cornes grow...
        A Cornes grow, A Cornes grow
        and if you thought that joke was bad be glad its nearly time to go...

Now things are quiet in Pittsburgh since our hero came to town,
they've all picked up their RSV's and laid their Living Bibles down
and they say, Who was that masked man and the woman he's got on tow?
Is it Andrew Cornes and Kate or the Lone Ranger and Tonto?
        (Lone Ranger theme...)
Well Andrew Cornes is one of All Souls very favourite sons
and many people owe their lives to the work that he has done,
he was a giant of man, and you've seen the reasons why,
so as they ride into the sunset we all gladly say Goodbye
        Goodbye, goodbye,
        and we promise we'll have our homework done by the end of next July...

Performed in All Souls sometime in 1984, with the refrains sung in C&W girlie backing vocal style by a couple of people one of whom I think was Sue Radford. The song was illustrated by slides, which explains some of the more obscure references such as some kind of church in Greece (Andrew visiting the Acropolis), loaned him an old banger (a picture of All Souls Rector Richard Bewes standing by a Rolls Royce) and hot air (a balloon trip).  Core Year was the main training course at All Souls at the time, and the Basic Method was Andrew's contextual approach to bible study. Somewhere lost to posterity is the exegesis of the verse "Your nose is as fine as a tower of Lebanon, overlooking Damascus" (Song of Songs 7:4) I gave at a Core Year houseparty using the Basic Method.