The title is a fond reference to the excellent Mr. Tompkins inside himself by George Gamow to which it otherwise has no connection. All songs written and performed by Jon Moncrieff © 2012
The album is an exploration of the inner life of an ordinary man. The tracks follow roughly in sequence through a life as follows :-
- Natal engagement – I don’t suppose any of us remember being born, being thrust from our warm and comfortable environment into a bright, relatively cold room, having to take breaths for the first time, and being surrounded by bleeps and people saying Ahhh.
- Reeling, Writhing, Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils – The title comes from Alice in Wonderland and is the mock turtle’s description of being taught by a conger eel. He means, of course, reading, writing, sketching and painting in oils. This is a song about the wonder of those first days at school, so many children, so much noise, fun and games.
- Farewell to the age of steam – Many people were heartbroken when steam railways were ended and modern, clean and efficient diesel trains became the norm. This song imagines the steam engines bemoaning their fate as the new trains whizz by gloating.
- Scapegrace – Young Master T is a teenager
- Widdlefest – A brief paean to teenage guitarists in bedrooms all over the world who try to reproduce just parts of those grand, pointless, extravagant, pompous, dazzling and glorious intros and solos produced in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s.
- Kissing with cold noses – First love and meetings outdoors, away from parents. Nos da cariad.
- Build your house above the clouds – It’s always sunny above the clouds. Mr. T daydreams his way through tedious commutes and mostly unrewarding work. Dawn chorus recorded at our house in Sussex in June 2006.
- A life run like clockwork – Your first proper job and how you aim to become organised and efficient in every aspect of your life. Briskness seems so important a part of being a proper grown up.
- Happily preoccupied – The joy of spending time with just yourself for company pottering about.
- Kleinzeit’s skewed hypotenuse – The condition afflicting the title character in Russell Hoban’s book Kleinzeit. A middle aged affliction combining the first signs of ageing with a general sense that things are beginning to pass you by, and you are not sure if that bothers you or not.
- Workslave – Life in the machine, punctuated by small acts of futile rebellion.
- Drowning in thin air – The overwhelming loveliness of a day by the seaside. What can’t all days be like this? Do I have to go back?
- Belonging to yourself – As a child you belong to your community, school and family, as a parent you belong to your job, family, children. When they have left home you get to belong to yourself.
- What I want can’t be bought – What a lot of stuff I’ve got. Do I really need more?
- … it must be freely given – Love, memories, grandchildren come to you if you’re lucky.
- Regret and Regression – A life is passing, there must be regrets for things done and undone, a coming to terms with that and then facing the end. Mr. Thompson leaves the stage as he entered, in a hospital bed surrounded by medical staff and family members saying Ahh.
- An awfully big adventure – Peter Pan’s anticipation of death, maybe Mr. T’s also.