A couple of friends and I were chatting about Gilbert and Sullivan over the weekend, and I thought of Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko’s song “I’ve Got A Little List” from The Mikado.
The original song manages to be racist (“the banjo-serenader and the others of his race”), sexist (“the lady novelist”), and classist (“the lady from the provinces”) all at once, and so people typically come up with more contemporary lyrics when they’re staging a production. (I remember a Canadian version that sentenced to death “all children who do Rubik’s Cubes in 15 seconds flat.”)
Anyway, it occurred to me that somebody really ought to do a China-localized version, and last night my friend Jim and I sat down to come up with one:
“I’ve Got A Little List”
(with thanks to Jim, and apologies to Messrs. W. S. Gilbert & A. Sullivan)
SONG–LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER with CHORUS OF MEN.
As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list–I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed–who never would be missed!
There’s the discontent petitioners in Beijing for redress–
And those who can’t pay doctor’s fees but won’t die nonetheless–
The children who can’t go to school because we still charge fees–
The whole ungrateful peasantry; they’re so damned hard to please–
And hot-head bumpkins who on spoiling grabs for land insist–
They’d none of ’em be missed–they’d none of ’em be missed!
He’s got ’em on the list–he’s got ’em on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed–they’ll none of ’em be missed.
There’s the ones who cast aspersions on the glory of the race–
(The upstart journalist? I’ve got him on the list!)
They’re sucking up to foreigners and making us lose face,
They never would be missed–they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who reads unfiltered sites,
And who doesn’t know from voting but would rather like some rights,
And that singular anomaly, the labor activist–
I don’t think he’d be missed–I’m sure he’d not he missed!
He’s got him on the list–he’s got him on the list;
And I don’t think he’ll be missed–I’m sure he’ll not be missed!
And those nasty F*lun Gong’ers who are always on your tits
Like an irritating cyst–I’ve got them on the list!
As long as they don’t burn themselves, we’ll sell them off for bits–
They’d none of ’em be missed–they’d none of ’em be missed.
And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,
Such as–What d’ye call him–Thing’em-bob, and likewise–Never-mind,
And ‘St–‘st–‘st–and What’s-his-name, and also You-know-who–
The task of filling up the blanks I’d rather leave to you.
And if you look in hist’ry books, we’ve took ’em off the list —
We did it very carefully–not one of them was missed!
You may put ’em on the list–you may take ’em off the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed–they’ll none of ’em be missed!