Friday 29 May 2009

Subway Sacrilege

Despite appearances to the contrary, I don't actually spend my life being affronted by advertising material, but yesterday evening, outside a branch of Subway - purveyors of cardboard rolls with denatured flavour-free fillings - I was confronted by a placard bearing this message: 'Morning has broken. Fix it.'
With what? Why, with a Subway £2 breakfast.
Now, anyone who has chewed their way through a Subway roll will testify that it has some potential as an adhesive, but what broken thing could possibly be fixed by a cardboard roll and a cardboard flagon of milkfroth? The morning eh? The morning's broken. It needs fixing. Oh dear God, that Eleanor Farjeon's lovely verse should be put to such sacrilegious use. With that beautiful old tune adapted by Martin Shaw - and readapted by Cat Stevens - it is a wonderfully plain and simple song of thanksgiving for God's daily remade creation. The theology is lightly worn - more so than in the similarly themed New Every Morning - and its essence is surely the thankfulness, mindfulness and attentiveness that are at the core of all true religion (or perhaps it's closer to Marianne Moore's formulation, Humility, concentration, gusto). Remind yourself of the beauty of Morning Has Brokenhere - and shake a fist at any branch of Subway you happen to pass. And if I've set the tune buzzing in your head all day, there are worse things to have buzzing there, far worse...


  1. Oddly Nige, somewhere in the cobwebbed recesses of memory there is a place called Bunessan, on the north west coast, possibly Near Oban, I shall away and investigate further, after that big red thing in the sky has gone home of course, can't not take advantage and binge sunbathe.

    Incidentally, have you seen Bill Oddie's replacement, chip off the old block.

  2. Cat Stevens is an interesting character, isn't he? I always get a jolt from that line in Father and Son: "You're still young, that's your fault".

    I know 'fault' probably means 'flaw' there but I prefer to interpret it in the normal sense.

  3. I find subway utterly mystifying - why (if you were say, a builder) would you pay £2 for a denatured loofah full of sweet tex-mex sauce when you can go to a proper caf or sandwich shop and get a bap twice the size full of bacon and egg and lovely ketchup for the same price???
    You dont even get witty repartee in a subway. In fact they all wear shower caps and rubber gloves behind the counter, like in an abattoir

  4. Ooh, you've reminded me of Cat Stevens and "Tea for the Tillerman," one of the first albums I owned and which I listened to obsessively.

    Weirdly, a few years ago in the Caribbean, a very drunk guy approached my husband thinking he was *Cat Stevens* (or Yusuf Whatever-He-Is-Now). It really was difficult to convince this man otherwise.

    Many years ago, my husband was mistaken for Julio Iglesias, so I'm not sure of things are going up or down. One a better singer, the other better looking!

  5. with regards to Mr Islam's singing - personally I've always thought the name 'Cat' to be most apposite