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Explanation
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A fire of unknown origin
A song written by Patti Smith. Her version is a slow lament, a dirge and a shriek of angry rage. The Blue Oyster Cult turn it into a hard-rocking anthem.
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Breyten Breytenbach, and he's emigrated to Paris
A South African writer and political liberal forced into exile in France for the sin of marrying a non-white woman. He tried to return to South Africa in 1977 and was imprisoned for life for illegally entering ther country, and for anti-state activities. The song has a serious side - it introduced the world to this particular prisoner of conscience and his treatment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breyten_Breytenbach
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he's hardly ever killed anyone
Many stories emerged of random murders of black South Africans by whites. The death of black rights activist Steve Biko at the hands of BOSS, the regime's secret police, was in the news at the time. Even in the early 2000's, racist leader Eugene Terre'Blanche was indicted for murder of a black farmhand, and stories persist of his setting attack dogs on blacks for sport.
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I've even heard a decent song by Paul McCartney's Wings
Be fair. There are some. But Macca's output after "Band on the Run" was thought to be pretty mediocre. (Was thought? Some opinions still use the present tense.)
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I got directory enquiries after less than forty rings
Customer service standards by both the General Post Office and its privatised form of British Telecom were considered exceptionally dire. A long, long, wait to speak to an operator was not uncommon.
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I've had a close encounter of the twenty-second kind,
That's when an alien spaceship disappears up your behind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - when you physically interact with an alien. And a famous film. Also evokes the mid-eighties fear, popularised in Whitley Streiber's novel Communion, of midnight abductions by little grey men who then intimately probe your bodily cavities.
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And I've never met a nice South African
And the verse always ends on the single most improbable concept of all. Yes, there probably are nice south Africans out there: but this was the middle 1980's and the Apartheid Era.
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I met a man in Katmandu who claimed to have two willies
Gratuitous material added to fill out the verse? It is possible the writers were running out of ideas and getting close to a deadline here.
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he's the chief commissionaire
Door security on any big corporation is legendarily in the hands of large clumsy ex-servicemen who are popularly thought to have all the intellect and charm of dinosaurs.


This bit could well be correct.
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I've met the Loch Ness monster
Another incredibly improbable thing. No two accounts of the legendary lake serpent match, so for all we know Nessie could look like Fred Astaire.
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I've had a nice pot noodle
Another mind-bogglingly improbable thing. American readers: think "instant ramen" here. Dehydrated noodles in a synthetic powdered sauce which in theory reconstitutes into a meal when boiling water is added.
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Explanation
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I know a place in Glasgow which is rife with daffodillies
Glasgow, Scotland, is popularly, and unfairly, thought of as being the most visually unattractive and ugly place in Great Britain. Around this time it was named European City of Culture, which raised huge derisive laughs. (Possibly unfairly).
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a fairly modest German
Illustrated with archive footing of a representative "fairly modest German" - Adolf Hitler. The "normal merman" is apparently one of Spitting Image's production team who volunteered to get into the costume.
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I know a guy who got a job straight after leaving school
The video visualises this line with a puppet of the son of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Mark Thatcher, popularly thought of as a thick petulant spoilt brat with a massive sense of entitlement, contrives to get both hands jammed in the till...
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I had lunch with Rowan Atkinson when he paid and wasn't late
comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder, Mr Bean) had a terrible reputation among his peers for being unpunctual and allegedly tight-fisted. Hence this line.
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Explanation
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No he's never met a nice South African,
And that's not bloody surprising man!
'Cause we're a bunch of arrogant b***tards,
Who hate black people
The scene cuts to a group of "typical" White South Africans hunting game animals on the veldt. (NB: "typical" for the apartheid era). The chorus is sung in a VERY strong South African accent. I'd like to try and phonetically represent it to convey the flavour, but apparently this is confusing and makes no sense. So please locate and watch the video!

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But I've never met a nice South African
The video was devised cfor satirical puppet show SPITTING IMAGE (why "Image Spitting" here???) and was broadcast in 1985. View it here: <iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/v439zTOJVho" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Explanation
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No he's never met a nice South African,
And that's not bloody surprising man!
'Cause we're a bunch of talentless murderers,
Who smell like baboons
More unpleasant White south Africans, heavily armed, riding the veldt in a Landrover and adorning the bonnet with an ever-increasing number of dead animals. Again sung in strong (and possibly parody) South-African accents.
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Explanation
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I've travelled this old world of ours from Barnsley to Peru,
I've had sunshine in the arctic and a swim in Tinbuktu,
I've seen unicorns in Burma and a Yetti in Nepal,
And I've danced with ten foot pygmies in a Montezuma hall,
I've met the King of China and a working Yorkshire miner -
The narrator, a pukka English explorer, is in a bar detailing progressively more unlikely and improbable scenarios he has encountered. He boasts of meeting a unicorn,, the Yeti, the Emperor of (Communist) China, and ten-foot-tall pygmies - but draws a blank on the most impossible thing of all. Do not forget this was the middle 1980's when apartheid was entrenched in Soutth Africa with no obvious sign of white minority rule ending.
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Three men in black
The mysterious Men in Black, who always turn up after UFOs or anomalous phenomena are seen. And there are always three of them.
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Going through the motions
Co-written by British singer Ian Hunter, who also released a version with his band Mott the Hoople. The BOC's version was released as a single in Britain but barely charted. The real hit with this song was a cover done by Bonnie Tyler in the early 1980's. For some reason her version begins and ends with children chanting the chorus as if it were a nursery rhyme. It adds nothing to the song.
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Explanation
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No matter where you hide
You just can't escape this dance
Very sadly true. Contrived Euro-dances were endemic and everywhere in the 1980's, from the Bavarian oompah-music of "The Birdie Song" to the aforementioned Agadoo.

And they claim the 1970's were the decade taste forgot.
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Explanation
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Make another song for moronic holidays
The song is both a protest against and a parody of the meaningless "Euro-Hits" of the 1980's such as Black Lace "Agadoo" which in their blandness and nonsense lyrics managed to become hits all over Europe. Songs like this were popular because of their summertime feel-good vibe and the way they evoked hot sunny days in the tourist traps of Spain. (A holiday destination beloved by most of Europe). It was just that the lyrics were lowest-common denominator crap, and exhorted people to do silly dances and sing along with meaningless chants and catchy lines. TV satirical show Spitting Image lampooned this mentality perfectly.

Side two, "I've Never Met A Nice South African", was written during the last years of the Apartheid Era and lists progressively more impossible things, the most impossible thing of all being encountering a pleasant and well-disposed White South African.
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Frederick name of care
Dedicated to her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, formerly of American rock band the MC5 ("Kick Out The JAMS" was their best-known song).
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Look over there! (Where?)
Mercilessly parodied by the Stranglers, in their song "Peaches", which is about less romantically elevated feelings towards women. They use exactly the same line to denote the singer getting an erection over a woman in a skimpy bikini.
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Explanation
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They watched their Rome burn
Roman emperor Nero famously watched Rome burn for seven nights. It is said the beauty of the fire made him pick up his lyre and begin to compose music based on the burning of his city. It is said Nero deliberately had the fire started to clear ground and remove pesky proletarians, so he could clear the ground and rebuild the city in his image.
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He got an ice pick that made his ears burn
The method by which Trotsky was murdered: beaten to death with an icepick by Stalin's assassins. The fatal blow, according to the autopsy, was behind his left ear.
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Leon Trotsky
A Russian revolutionary who lost the power struggle with Stalin to take over after Lenin died. He fled to Mexico to lead the struggle from exile and was murdered there. his name remains synonymous with divergence from the Party line and still today denotes an even more hardline, purist, form of Communism.
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dear old Lenny
Possibly "Dear old Lenin", another great revolutionary shafted by Josef Stalin?

An alternative - if the "Lenny" line is correct - is American comedian Lenny Bruce, a man hounded for the extreme nature of his act.
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