From the album "Broken Biscuits"
I am a very old man - what have I got to offer?
Just a pile of memories,
And the aches and pains I suffer.
And these broken biscuits – crumbs all over the floor.
Broken biscuits – not much more.
I conquered the world with Napoleon, Hannibal and Alexander,
Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun, and they all went tumbling after.
We travelled east and we travelled west, till ever land was taken,
And every high street looked the same, and we called it civilisation.
I fought so many battles, but the killing it never ended.
No one knew why it began, though everyone pretended.
We lived a life of luxury on all the riches we had plundered,
Traded slaves and opium as the canons roared and thundered.
Tom Paine said its only common sense, and Darwin evolution.
Either way get off your backs and join the revolution.
And so we manned the barricades to keep the red flag flying,
But those that gave the orders were not the ones who did the dying.
This song was intended as a tribute to the elderly – often poor, patronised or forgotten – but somehow became an anti-war song. The name dropping was meant as a reminder of all the great men and women (good and bad) on whose shoulders we stand – like it or not. But, as with school history, it’s the ruling elite whose politics and wars emerge as the most dramatic and all the rest ‘come tumbling after’. Social history, the kind we often get on TV, is interesting but often very speculative as the evidence is mostly lost or decayed. The song is also a statement of fact – I’m getting on – but not dead yet.