A Borrible’s One Occupation

I’m reading The Borribles. Well, strictly speaking, I’m reading The Borribles Go For Broke. The sequel. And soon I will no doubt read Across the Dark Metropolis, the third in the trilogy.

As you can probably detect (or indeed tell from the vivid cover art above), it’s a Young Adult fantasy series, but it’s so brilliantly violent and full of swearing that it could surely never be made into a family movie. As such, it willfully removes itself from becoming an annoying pop-cultural phenomenon that anyone with an imagination of their own is sick and tired of practically from the moment of its conception. Oh yes.

The titular Borribles are erstwhile London children who escaped their parents and schools and become quasi-feral in the meantime. Though they still resemble children, some of them are hundreds of years old and the tops of their ears have grown into points. I suppose they’re elves – but for people who don’t like elves.

I often wonder if the Borribles inspired City Hobgoblins by The Fall, which came out just a couple of years after the first book. Fall lyrics are quite intensely researched though, and nobody has yet connected the song to the Borribles. If the odds are defied and film is ever made though, I’d hope this song makes an appearance.

The Borribles don’t care for authority or money or possessions, preferring instead to live for the moment and on their wits. They’re Escapologists of a particular sort. I’ve known a few Borribles.

Ever on the lookout for quotations to share with you in this blog–liberating or inspiring quotes relating to work or comfort or independence or submission–I had a few marked out, but it’s hard to do better than this Borrible song. Here you go.

Who’d be a hurrying, scurrying slave,
    Off to an office or bound for a bank;
Who’d be a servant from cradle to grave,
    Counting his wages and trying to save;
Who’d be a manager, full of his rank,
    Or the head of the board at a big corporation?
Ask us the question, we’ll tell you to stuff it,
  Good steady jobs would make all of us snuff it–
    Freedom’s a Borrible’s one occupation!

Our kind of liberty’s fit for a king;
    London’s our palace, we reign there supreme.
Broad way and narrow way, what shall we sing–
    Alleys as tangled as knotted-up string,
River than winds through the smoke like a dream;
    What shall we sing in our own celebration–
Ragged-arsed renegades, never respectable,
  Under your noses, but rarely detectable–
    Freedom’s a Borrible’s one occupation!

Ahem. I hope I was able to adequately carry the tune. Either way, you get the idea. Borribles! Highly recommended for Escapological types with sympathies toward fantasy but an aversion to elves.


The latest book from the New Escapologist stable, The Good Life for Wage Slaves, is now available to pre-order in paperback or as an e-book.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

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