Would you want to work at Matthew & Son?

I’ve been familiar with the 1966 Cat Stevens song ‘Matthew & Son’ since I was a youngling, and indeed back then it seemed like a grim existence working for the Man. And his son. And yet it was only the other week I stopped to think about exactly what it must have been like working for Mr Matthew. Or indeed his son. Let’s take the song line-by-line and examine the evidence.

Up at eight, you can’t be late
for Matthew & Son, he won’t wait.

Up at EIGHT? I dream of getting up at 8. My alarm goes off at 5.45, 6am if I’m having a lie-in. Matthew & Son have waited quite long enough, you laggard!

Watch them run down to platform one
And the eight-thirty train to Matthew & Son.

How I chuckle at this line as I run down to platform 3 for the 0629.

Matthew & Son, the work’s never done, there’s always something new.

Well, I’d bloody well hope for your future employment prospects that ‘the work’s never done’. And ‘always something new’ – better than the same old same old, Cat.

The files in your head, you take them to bed, you’re never ever through.
And they’ve been working all day, all day, all day!

I don’t think I ever had a job where I didn’t carry some baggage home with me. Being a BBC radio studio manager was probably as good as it gets in this regard, but even then I’d wake up screaming at 3am having dreamt that all the tape machines in S46 had turned to blancmange as the producer brings in 7 new spools of breaking news on a solo World Briefing.

There’s a five minute break and that’s all you take,
for a cup of cold coffee and a piece of cake.

I know primary school teachers who would kill for a whole FIVE MINUTE break, and us teachers like cold coffee because we can drink it in a hurry. Plus THERE’S CAKE.

He’s got people who’ve been working for fifty years
No one asks for more money cuz nobody cares
Even though they’re pretty low and their rent’s in arrears

Look on the bright side: a low-staff turnover is a GOOD sign. And clearly the job is itself reward enough! Who needs money?

Matthew & Son, Matthew & Son, Matthew & Son, Matthew & Son,
And they’ve been working all day, all day, all day!

Welcome to reality. Just be glad you’re not working all night, all night, all night. Night shifts are bloody horrible.

On balance, if Matthew & Son are hiring, I’d probably consider pinging them my CV.

Cake. I like cake.

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3 Responses to Would you want to work at Matthew & Son?

  1. Frank Bath says:

    Well said. It was always a crap lyric, written by someone who had only lived through the pages of The Guardian, the hippie media, or something. He obviously thought the everyday world of work was an imposition. As we know Cat Stevens went bonkers shortly after.
    Mind you that was before China was allowed to put 500,000,000 workers into the world market and depress wages.

  2. James says:

    Lyrical nonsense; but such a good tune.

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