Spare Tyre – Selected Songs

The Spare Tyre Songbook was co-authored by Harriet Powell, Judy Farrar, Katina Noble and Clair Chapman.
The Spare Tyre song collection, drawn from the company’s plays and cabarets, is large, varied and spans a range of topics, from the company’s early emphasis on compulsive eating and body image, to it’s later explorations of other issues, such as contraception, motherhood, being single and getting older. They produced four cassette albums of songs in the 1980s: Eat it! if you want to!; Second Helpings; Gone Shopping and Laugh Lines, which can be listened to at the Unfinished Histories archive.

Below is a small selection of songs that aim to provide a glimpse of the company’s style and political angle:

Mars Bar

by Clair Chapwell

Why is it
Every time my mother rings me on the phone
I want a Mars Bar?
Is this the thing that
Pavlov did with those dogs?

Why is it
About my mother’s ‘Hello sweetheart!’ make me scream
I need a Mars Bar?
Mummy and chocolate
Melted up there in the cogs

She lives in misery
Every day of her life
‘Please God!’ she prays, ‘My Joanne
Make her somebody’s wife…’ (Oy vai, Mom!)

Here I am
My mother rings me on the phone
And here I am
And here’s my Mars Bar!
Well, cheers, Mom – you’ve made me what I am today
And cheers to the Scarsdale diet – hip hip … hooray…

How do I look?

by Clair Chapwell

If the earth flooded and the trees fell down
And the Post Office Tower burnt to the ground
We’d still be saying ‘How do I look?’
But that’s the way they like us, honey
They’re just happy making money
Selling insecurities by hook and by crook

Wish I could rise above it
Wish I could tell them, ‘Shove it!’
How can I learn to love it?
How do I look?

Models smirking everywhere
Perfect bodies, teeth, eyes, hair
And we keep saying ‘How do I look?’
What do I want to world to say
It’s nothing to do with what I weigh
I want something back – that somebody took


If Margaret Thatcher fell from power (HURRAY)
And I stepped in at the eleventh hour
They’d all be saying ‘How does she look?’
Another lady boss, that’s great –
Who’s her fella? What’s her weight?
What’s her favourite flower?
Favourite perfume? Can she cook?

I’m going to rise above it
I’m going to tell them, ‘Shove it!’
‘Cos I already love it
Here’s how I look!

The Alternative (Seventies) Boogie-woogie

by Harriet Powell

Collectivism – Feminism – Socialism – Idealism –
Demonstrations, Occupations, Revolution, Revelation!

This is it! The seventies boogie woogie,
That’s right! It’s revolutionary,
Right-on! You better believe it,
Fight on! We’re gonna achieve it,
The seventies boogie woogie, let’s live!
It’s the only boogie woogie that’s alternative!

We’re the people that our parents warned us about,
Join the revolution, let it all hang out,
Lentil stew for thirty-two and dungarees,
This is what will bring the country to its knees,
Power to the people, we’re gonna unite,
Our parents are wrong and we are right!


It’s true the revolution is for me and you,
So why are they all our there and I’m stirring the stew,
It’s true that liberation is where its all at,
So why am I just sitting here at home feeling fat?
It’s true that equality is here for some,
So why am I still waiting for my prince to come?


Our liberated language makes our parents freak,
They never understand a single word that we speak,
Do you own thing, Alexander Technique,
Right-on, Rev Speak, it’s unique,
The capitalist system will go down the drain,
And nothing’s ever gonna be the same again!


Spare Rib and City Limits

By Clair Chapwell

Spare Rib and City Limits
Keep us on the straight and narrow
We don’t know where we’d be
Without their feminist love and care, oh

You’re so heterosexist
Too thin, you get my back up
Irritates me you’re all white
(What do you want us to do, black up?)

You are not working class
Disabled or gay
At least you’re women
You were born that way
(Thanks for telling me)

Sorry I live with a man
I’m sorry my children are boys
Sorry I eat meat
Sorry I wear mascara
Sorry I shave my legs
Sorry I’m American
Sorry I was born in St John’s Wood
We’re sorry we’re middle class
Sorry sorry sorry sorry

Spare Rib and City Limits
How we love you you
You used your influence
Killed our audience
Said we irritate
Not enough fat and weight
What are we to do?

We can’t fight your words in print
But we’re not beaten yet
We think you’re being less consistent
So we’ll buy the Hackney Gazette!

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