No escape from Alton Towers

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The Independent Online
I am an avid collector of modern folk verse, especially of motorway ballads. Here, is a lovely folk poem, called "The Ballad of Alton Towers". It was told to me by a cheery, nut-brown-faced lorry driver.

I've never been to Alton Towers

I've never been inclined

But I never saw a theme park

That was better signed.

Up every bloody motorway

Up every exit road

You can't go half a bloody mile

Without this sign being showed:

`Leave now for Alton Towers!

Get off the motorway!

Come inside for a bloody good time

And pay and pay and pay!'

Well, I've been up to Lancashire

And I been down to Kent,

And I once, by mistake, drove off to Wales,

But whichever way I went

I always passed, eventually,

A threatening sign which said:

`Pull off, you lucky motorist!

It's Alton Towers ahead!'

How can a place be everywhere?

North, south, east and west?

Sometimes near the Mersey,

Sometimes the River Test?

Does it move around a lot,

Travelling by night,

Looking for a more exciting

Money-making site?

Moving like a camel train

Down the pitch-black M?

Giving drivers heart attacks

At 4 or 5am?

Or are there lots of Alton Towers

Scattered round the land?

Each by a different motorway?

That I could understand.

One for the East of England

Another for the West,

One more for the northerners

And one for all the rest.

Scattered across England,

Marching through the trees,

Like a line of pylons

Or Dutch Elm Disease!

I've motored near to Chester

And also near to Crewe,

And one has got a nice station

And the other's got a nice zoo

But both have got a signpost

Saying `Alton Towers nearby'

And all I want to know is,

Why oh why oh why?

I've driven in the daylight

And driven home at night

And seen this signpost everywhere

(Except the Isle of Wight)

`Alton Towers are coming!

Alton Towers are nigh!

We are the day of reckoning!

You must not pass by!'

Well, listen, Mr Alton,

Listen to me, pal!

I've never been to Alton

And I swear I never shall!

So why not put your theme park

On video or CD-rom?

And send me down the software

And I'll watch it all at home!

It is sometimes said you get no topicality in folk verse. Quite untrue, as shown by this fragment I overheard a busker singing at Fleet services ...

As I was going to Scarborough Fair

I saw a signpost standing there:

`Road to Scarborough Blocked Ahead

- Why not go somewhere else instead?'

`All right,' I thought, `and so I will.

I'll take a trip to old Box Hill.

That's a place I'd like to climb

- I'll do it now I have the time!'

But when I'd motored down to Kent

I saw to my astonishment

A sign saying `Box Hill closed today -

You can't come in - please go away!'

Well, call me stubborn, call me proud,

But all at once I said out loud:

`I know! I'll drive to Wenlock Edge

To see the primrose in the hedge!'

And so I jumped into my car

(Though Shropshire really is quite far )

And drove along the motorway

(Past signs all saying CLOSED TODAY)

Until I saw to my chagrin

A signpost standing somewhere in

The High Street in Much Wenlock town:

`Sorry - Wenlock Edge closed down!'

I stopped a friendly AA man

And said to him politely: `Can

You tell me what's ado?

Why is everywhere shut, and who

Is ultimately the man we thank?'

`The AA man said: "Barings Bank.

They have got all this in trust!

Now the buggers have gone bust!"

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