|Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - pink pipe not pictured.|
The story so far...
It is the 1960s, it's only 20 years since the end of the Second World War, but already the cultural landscape has changed with incredible speed. There are young people everywhere: They can't begin to process the level of sacrifice and diligence that their parents had to endure, and as far as they're concerned, it's entirely likely that the world will end in a nuclear explosion quite soon.
Old people - by which they mean anyone over 25 - are making a mess of things, and all of the old rules need a good shake, to see if any of the loose bits fall off.
So, there's an understandable horror of tradition. Nothing can be done in the way it has always been, because that did not work out well for anyone. Also, whole communities have been destroyed, all across Europe, and they're only just starting to be rebuilt. This forces a choice: either diligently put the world back exactly as it was or abandon tradition, abandon communal endeavour, and create a brave and chaotic new mental terrain to live in.
From the perspective of nowadays, either choice seems valid, but at the time, the two cultures were at war for supremacy: straights versus freaks. Some people chose to take this conflict incredibly seriously, like Bob Dylan piling 'Ballad of a Thin Man' on top of 'Masters of War', but others, like the Beatles, and the Bonzo Dog (occasionally Doo-Dah) Band's Vivian Stanshall loaded their outrage at the suffocating constricts of normal society into the baffling day-glo blunderbuss of surrealism.
'My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe' is a declaration of war. A literal line has been drawn, in pink paint, down the front of a semi-detached house. On one side lives the young artist, creative and free, and unwilling to integrate, and he's annoyed, because there's a normal on the other side and he's boring. All hostility comes from the freak side of the house, set to a very poised and gallic waltz, with the norm burbling away over the fence about rice pudding and his ill cat, oblivious to all simmering resentment from the guy in the wizard hat and purple specs.
Why, the young artist preens, can't everyone be more like ME? Why are there boring people in the world doing boring things? We could set up a new orthodoxy where everyone does the same non-boring things all the time and we all have pink drainpipes and... and beards and colourful clothes... and we're all free-thinking square pegs and all the holes are always round, forever. It's a new conformity! Your lot can't be trusted! Only MY lot know what's what. Shut up and get out of the way, grandad, I'm wearing antlers and rubber ears, and my jacket is made out of sky.
At the end, perhaps mindful that this is an unsustainable tantrum, this magnificent rant occurs:
"My pink half of the drainpipe separates me from the incredibly fascinating story of your life and every day-to-day event in all its minute and tedious attention to detail... And was it a Thursday or a Wednesday? Or, oh, no, it wasn't though. Oh, who cares anyway because I do not. So Norman, if you're normal, I intend to be a freak for the rest of my life, and I shall baffle you with cabbages and rhinoceroses in the kitchen incessant quotations from 'Now We Are Six' through the mouthpiece of Lord Snooty's giant poisoned electric head."
After which both sides retreat, to have a jolly good think about what has just happened.
PS: You also have to listen to 'Jazz, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold', if only because people playing instruments badly well is always a delight. You'll never view the trad-jazz combo at the factory outlet village in quite the same way again.