Last Carol

by Nancy Nicolson

Mushroom cloud and heavy water
My last son and your last daughter
White and sere the blasted ground
Husha, husha all fall down

Merrily, merrily nuclear power
Merrily, merrily kilowatt hour
Merry little factory for nuclear fuel
It will cook your merry goose and not your merry gruel

Merrily, merrily scattering plutonium
Always on my patch, never on your own one
Set in merry glass and merry sunk in merry granite
Can you merry say it’s merry safe? You merry cannot

Merrily, merrily critical condition
Merrily, merrily nuclear fission
Merry, merry, merry, merry four minute warning
Never merry, not a merry, ‘nother merry morning

Cook your goose: cause your downfall
Four minute warning: in the 50s the notice to be given
that a nuclear strike was on the way.
Children in school were taught how to
hide under desks and shield their eyes.
Heavy water: chemically changed water used in nuclear reactors
Mushroom cloud: mushroom shaped cloud of dust following a nuclear explosion
Sear, sere: withered

This song was brought to Sangschule by singer/songwriter Nancy Nicolson.

Edinburgh-based Nancy Nicolson grew up in Caithness- home also to the nuclear power station, Dounreay. She is very aware of the risks associated with radiation and the dangerous consequences of human error when things go wrong on a domestic level – and wrote about that humorously in the song “Ah’m I Man At MUFed It”, suggesting what may have happened to the nuclear “Material Unaccounted For.”

Nancy uses a light and humorous touch in many of her songs to get across a serious message, but in “Last Carol” she wanted to deal with the all-encompassing destructive power of nuclear war, and her humour is definitely black. Images of a deadly nuclear winter are set beside “My last son and your last daughter” in the repeating chorus, while the verses, with echoes of Dickens’ The Christmas Carol- the goose and the gruel, Merry Christmas and Merry Gentlemen - hammer home her message that we tinsel over the underlying threat at our peril.