Little Johnny Piccolo is sitting in his room
and he’s gazing out his window on a stormy afternoon
He sees the clouds a-tumbling topsy-turvy through the gloom
on a wind that whips the winter through the trees
And there’s lashing licking raindrops streaming down the windowpane
So the scene is shimmer-shaking and can never stay the same
And wee Johnny’s all a-tremble with excitement in his veins
When Mummy enters, saying, “Johnny, please,
PICK up your lego now, PUT away your pens,
TIDY up your soldiers, and I WILL not ask again:
You NEED a tidy bedroom, I’m EXPECTING you to try!”
But Johnny stands defiant, shouting “WHY?!”
Well, Mummy is exasperated, horrified and cross,
she shakes her head in anger and she’s really at a loss
She calls into the corridor to show the boy who’s boss,
And Daddy enters, standing by her side.
“Now look here, boy,” his dad begins, “let’s lay it on the line:
I shouldn’t have to talk like this to any son of mine.
When Mummy gives an order you should smile and answer, ‘Fine!
I shall obey with pleasure and with pride!’
DON’T answer back, my boy, DO as you’re told
you MAY think it’s clever and you MAY think it’s bold
but BAD things can happen if you GIVE the wrong reply!”
But Johnny, slightly smiling, answers, “WHY?”
Well Daddy looks at Mummy now, and Mummy looks at Dad.
“D’you think that we should tell him?” “Yes, I think we better had!”
Outside the weather worsens till it’s frighteningly bad
And dripping darkness gathers round the room
Daddy drops his voice as if he’s whispering in fear
Johnny has to hold his breath and turn his head to hear
“My boy,” his Daddy whispers, “there’s a fearsome buccaneer:
the Whyrate Captain, coming to your doom!
PLEASE pick your words, my lad, DON’T let him come!
TRY a little harder John, for ME and your mum!
IF the Whyrates come for you it REALLY is goodbye!”
But Johnny, rather shaken, answers, “Why?”
Oh, Heaven only help us! What a stupid thing to say!
Johnny looks in shock, as both his parents back away
Their hands are up in panic as the black and stormy day
Begins to shake the window in its frame!
Then SMASH! goes the glass as lightning streaks across the sky
The wind goes whipping round them as his parents turn to fly
And through the crashing darkness Johnny hears a shrieking cry,
“We’ve got him lads! The Whyrates stake their claim!”
IN through the window comes a GRINNING, swarthy man
a QUESTION mark the cutlass that he’s WAVING in his hand
“COME, lad,” he wheezes, “you are JUST our type of guy!”
And Johnny, frozen, barely whispers “Why?”
“Ya-HAR!” The captain bellows in a whirlwind of glee,
“I knew it lads, this boy’s the one! We’re taking him to sea!”
And quick as thought he grabs him with a one and two and three
and bundles Johnny through the rising dark
Now, maybe you’d be frightened – I am sure I’d yell for aid
If a bunch of crazy Whyrates hauled me off upon a raid
But Johnny, little Johnny, he is not one bit afraid –
Instead, he thinks, “At last! I’ve made my mark!”
OUT of the garden now and INTO the night
BACK through the gloom his bedroom DISAPPEARS from sight
OFF to the shoreline where a SAIL obscures the sky
And stitched in silver letters – simply, ‘WHY?’
Now Johnny doesn’t know it, but these Whyrates he has met
are about the most notorious of villains you could get
and many weary kingdoms are unlikely to forget
the day the Whyrates sailed into their shores
And what is it that makes them just so deadly and so feared?
Is it all the men they’ve murdered? All the children they have speared?
Well, no – in fact the truth of it is really rather weird:
They simply ask what’s not been asked before!
WHY should the people have to BOW before the king?
WHY should the government rule EVERY little thing?
WHY should so much be owned by OH so very few?
And no-one anywhere has any clue!
And so it is in Bannerland, a country miles away
Whose population struggles just as Johnny’s whisked away
The lives that people lead there – well, I hardly like to say –
you can hear them weeping, wailing in the streets!
They live around the palace where the crazy King does lie,
just taking – never giving – in a bed that’s warm and dry
His dungeons break the bedrock and his turrets split the sky
while folks below must work so he can eat.
SUCH is their misery that NOBODY has thought
to ASK of anyone how this has COME to be their lot
When OUT of the east upon a FOAMING ocean swell
The Whyrates land, and Johnny’s there as well!
Well word gets to the Palace, and the King jumps from his bed
Shivering and shaking, comfort overcome by dread
“Burn the ship!” he hollers, “and I want the captain’s head!
We’ll have no questions here in Bannerland!”
But up from the harbour Whyrates bundle by the score
A ripple of inquiry from the palace to the shore
And Bannerlanders flock to them, all asking more and more,
determined that it’s time to make a stand.
“WHY should we help a man who TREATS his people thus?
WHY should we think of one who NEVER thinks of us?
WHY should we hold him up, when REALLY, he should fall?”
The Whyrates crackle-cackle through it all.
Well Johnny stands in wonder and delight at what he sees
As questions shake the kingdom like a tempest through the trees
And Johnny thinks, “You know, this is my realm of expertise,
I think I’ll go and see what happens now!”
And there, before his very eyes a miracle begins
The palace starts to crumble as the King goes mad within
And the jangling of treasure can be heard above the din
as gold and silver spill across the ground!
GOLD for the beggar-men, GOLD for the slaves
JEWELS for the serving girls in SPARKLE-jingled waves
FOOD for the hungry and CLOTHES for them to wear
(Of course, the Whyrates take a modest share!)
Well that was just the start, of course, of Johnny’s long career
He travelled with the Whyrates out to countries far and near
Starting revolutions everywhere they would appear
A simple question, then it’s back to sea
But when at last he wearied of the buccaneering days
He travelled bravely homewards through the tumble tossing waves
To Mummy, and to Daddy, and that’s where our Johnny stays,
A most obliging son, they both agree!
And IF he should grow weary, and BEGIN it all once more
and START to grumble grumpily when ASKED to sweep the floor
say “WHY should I go back to life the WAY it always was?”
Well, Mum and Dad just smile, and say, “Because!"
For children, obviously!