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Secret Policeman’s Ball

Recorded live at the Secret Policeman’s Ball, Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, 30 June 1979

Released on Secret Policeman’s Ball: The Music [Island 12WIP6598], 1980

Secret Policeman's Ball: The Music LP


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[Lyrics new to this version are marked in bold]

The British Police are the best in the world
I don’t believe one of these stories I’ve heard
‘Bout them raiding gay bars for no reason at all
Lining the customers up by the wall
Picking out people, knocking them down
Resisting arrest as they’re kicked on the ground
Searching their houses and calling them queer
I don’t believe that sort of thing happens here

You don’t have to be gay to sing on this chorus…
But it helps

Sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

Being a lesbian’s wonderful fun
You ain’t fit to mother a daughter or son

There’s no nudes in Gay News our last magazine
But they still find excuses to call it obscene
Read how disgusting we are in the press
The Evening News and Sunday Express
Molesters of children, corruptors of youth
It’s there in the paper it must be the truth

So try and sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

Have you heard the story about Peter Wells
Who one day got arrested and dragged to the cells
For being in love with a guy of 18
The vicar found out they’d been having a scene
The magistrates sent him for trial by the Crown
He even appealed but they still sent him down
He was only mistreated a couple of years
Cos even in prison they look after the queers

Better believe it

Sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

And sit back and watch as they close down our clubs
Arrest us for meeting and raid all our pubs
Make sure your boyfriend’s at least 21
And if you’re a lesbian don’t be a mum
Lie to your workmates, lie to your folks
Put down the queens and tell anti-queer jokes
Gay Lib’s ridiculous, join their laughter
‘The buggers are legal now, what more are they after?’

Sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy that way

Sing if you’re glad to be gay
Sing if you’re happy this way

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The Secret Policeman’s Ball was a benefit gig of comedy and music to raise funds for Amnesty International.

Video of the performance is featured the Videos page. Video released on Complete Secret Policeman’s Ball DVD box set, 2002.

Talking to Tom:

The Secret Policeman’s Ball version, that’s the one that gets me every time, there’s such a venom in that one like no other. Do you see it that way as well?

Yes. That’s the version I put on Youtube, because it’s purely distilled.

The Peter Wells verse, cut after the original demo, is reinstated.

What happened to Peter Wells was a genuine scandal and a reason to be very fucking angry. But, specifically with the Secret Policeman’s Ball, Amnesty had ruled that gays did not count as political prisoners and therefore they didn’t support gay prisoners. That’s why I was singing it and that’s why I was so angry, because I was singing it to an Amnesty audience. Hence the venom. Amnesty asked me to come and perform, OK, well have this then.

You can see their point, it’s not a political statement to be gay, but at the same time it’s common humanity that you would support someone who was in prison just because of the fact that they were gay. So specifically, Peter Wells was relevant to Amnesty supporting prisoners or not.

[Amnesty now actively supports human rights of LGBT people]

The Peter Wells verse was only dropped because the song was too long. It came back in the Secret Policeman’s Ball, but again on the same principle I knocked it down to just three verses on my Youtube version, I just tried it different ways and found that had the impact, and that people’s attention spans are a bit shorter now, and that if you want people to notice the song and remember it then I found you have to cut that out.

[The Videos page features the unedited version]

[The verse was reinstated for a version on the 2016 ‘Home in the Morning’ tour]

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