Ministerial Brief Encounter, NewsRevue Sketch and Medley Lyrics, 30 August 1992

The extraordinary thing about this sketch and medley is the date I first wrote it – two-and-a-half weeks before Black Wednesday.

My log records that I first wrote it on the August bank holiday weekend, ironically. I tinkered with it on the Tuesday (1 September) and called it Version 2 – only that tinkered version survives of the pre Black Wednesday versions.

The NewsRevue cast didn’t use it at that time – it probably didn’t seem topical to them ahead of the crisis.

I subsequently changed and improved the piece a lot, post crisis, renaming it “As Time Goes By or They Flew From Tuscany”, so most of the material did get used eventually. The “Don’t Fuck Up the Economy” lyric in particular ran and ran.

Anyway, for those who like this sort of quirky thing, here is the sketch and medley in its original form, including the final lyric of the medley which (in its way) explains why Black Wednesday happened:


(A Sketch and Medley from the good old 1940’s)




John Major (Johnny)

Virginia Bottomley (Gini)

Gillian Shepherd (Jilly)

Norman Lamont (Fartface)




(The pianist tinkles away, preferably the Second Movement of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto – a la Brief Encounter – or failing that some other slushy stuff.  The music is adagio sostenuto, the voices are staccato.  We start with just Johnny and Gini on stage.)






GINI:Oh Johnny.  What’s happened to the economy?


JOHNNY:Gerry’s giving us a bally barney, Gini.  The pound keeps going down.


GINI:What about Yankee Doodle Dandy?


JOHNNY:Gerry’s giving Yankee Doodle Dandy a bally barney too, Gini.


GINI:Oh Johnny,  this darned economy’s ruining all our lives.  I’m sorry.  I’m acting like a bally fool.


(Enter Jilly)


JILLY:Hello Gini.


GINI:Hello Jilly.  Do you know my friend Johnny?


JILLY:Hello Johnny.


JOHNNY:Hello Jilly.  What do you do for the old effort?


JILLY:I’m in employment.


JOHNNY:Gosh, that is unusual these days.


JILLY:In the ministry.  Gosh, Johnny, it’s all going horribly.  Where’s Normy?


JOHNNY:Out there in the treasury battling it out with Gerry.


GINI:Oh God, I hope he isn’t going to do something silly.


(Enter Normy)


JOHNNY:Here he comes now, and I rather think he is going to do something silly.


JILLY:You don’t mean……


NORMY:Yes, I’m going to sing a medley.  And you’re going to help me.






 (To the tune of “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”)


Don’t fuck up the economy with anyone else but me,

Anyone else but me, anyone else but me (no, no no);

Don’t fuck up the economy with anyone else but me,

‘Til I return from Tuscany.


Don’t devalue the currency with countries like Germany,

We’ll solve it internally, from now till eternity (no no no);

Don’t devalue the currency we’ve purchasing parity,

With Greece and Italy.



 (To the tune of “Falling in Love again”)


I often stop and wonder, why stripy shirted men,

Financial markets plunder, sell pounds and buy yen.

We offer them low taxes, but still those city sharks,

With mobile phones and faxes, dump pounds for Deutchmarks.


Falling in ERM,

Sterling’s down the drain,

Valueless again,

So don’t hold it.


Falling in ERM,

Sterling is the pits,

Norman’s got the shits,

And can’t help us.



 (To the tune of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B”)


He is a chubby little chap from out West London way,

He rented out his flat to girls you have to pay;

He is in charge of treasury,

But he could never get through an economics degree,

He is the Chancellor of the Exchequer here,

He’s the ERM and ECU erk from Number Eleven.


He likes to blow his trumpet and he thinks he’s great,

But he cannot maintain the Public’s interest rate;

The people think he is a jerk,

Because the pounds up the creek and half the folks can’t find work;

We ought to chuck him out with a flea in his ear,

Cos our ERM and ECU erk can’t count to Eleven.


“We won’t, we won’t, we won’t we won’t we won’t”…..,

I think his needle is stuck,

…..”Devalue Sterling”;

He won’t say a word unless a Treasury crisis is unfurling;

Why don’t we terminate, this ministers career?

Change the ERM and ECU erk at Number Eleven.

Here are the Andrews Sisters singing “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree”:

…and Marlene Dietrich singing “Falling In Love Again”…

…and the Andrews Sisters again, this time singing “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”:

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