In The Middle Of The Night



E’ning Standard, read all about it!
Paper sir, paper sir?

Nice man George, newsagent on the corner
Not very rich but never any poorer
Jaunty old George, a happy sixty three
Not very tall but healthier than me
He whistles timeless tunes as he saunters down the street
Springs in his legs and elastic in his feet
But in the middle of the night
He steals through your garden
Gives your hosiery a fright
And doesn’t say pardon
As soft as a breeze with an armful of underwear
On his hands and knees dreams about the knicker scare

Hello there George, newsagent on the corner
How’s the old car, yes the climate’s getting warmer
Chatty old George as you get your morning paper
Read about the knicker thief underwear taker?
Bids you good day
As you wander out the door
Never closes early always cleans the floor
But when darkness hits the town
And there’s washing on your line
Get your knickers down
Before the dreaded sign
When the clock strikes eight and you’re snuggled up in bed
He’ll be at the garden gate filling underwear with dread

Nice man George, newsagent on the corner
He was closed today maybe gone to mow the lawn
Had to go further down the road to get me Currant Bun
Hello, isn’t that George on Page One
No it couldn’t be but yes it is
Difficult to see from these photo fits
But they are after him
Of that you can be sure
They’ve called him on the phone
They’ve knocked on his door
But he’s gone away, gone to stay with some mates
He got the papers early and saw his own fate

E’ning Standard, papers sir


Chris Foreman Music
Graham McPherson Words


The band has a collective memory of Suggs getting the idea for the song from a genuine newspaper article about a knicker thief seeing his own description and photo-fit in the papers and making a dash for it. Not so, however. It transpires that Suggs worked at newsagents in Clerkenwell, an area of London with a Little Italy enclave. The proprietor would come by the occasional shipment of water-damaged goods, which he would buy unseen and try to make a few quid out of whatever was in the damp container.

Two such loads stick out in Suggs‘ memory,” “the first being parmesan cheese. We’re not talking handy, top-shelf-of-the-fridge packs of grated cheese here, but entire parmesan rounds. As the young Suggs went around the local Italian restaurants selling these from atop a flat-bed lorry, one of the slippery cheeses (water-damaged and therefore wet) fell from his nerveless grip and rolled down the Farringdon Road. Whoever found it must have had difficulty convincing everyone that it had fallen off the back of a lorry.

The second memorable shipment pertains to the song. One day, Suggs saw a massive pile of underwear in the shop’s basement—which could only have come from one of these ‘water-damaged’ containers, our songwriter is at pains to point out—and the seeds were sown for the song.


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