There's an avenue from a Roman road
Trees anchored in lost oceans
A land that saw a desert war
Needs more than your devotions
The way he cupped his cigarette
His turned-up hoodlum collar
His eyes are sharp, they calculate
Exchange rates for the dollar

Chorus:
Vast nights, complacent empires
Holy tourists, the ghosts of olive trees
White dogs, a maze of caverns
come down and buy these tapestries

A waiter waits to pounce on you
With his friend, the organiser
The mosques are free but he charges you
And you are none the wiser
A traffic cop who needs a ride
Says he has a friend to meet
He complains the whole way going
And leaves you stranded in a one-way street

Chorus

Why can't thy be just poor
I mean reassuringly poor
The harmless poor, the safely poor
Whose souls we steal in Nikon theft
The grateful poor, whose hands we shook
And quickly washed before we left
Oh let them just be poor

Chorus

Song Description

This 3rd World Tourism song is quite cynical. I wrote it after a trip to Tunisia. I had never been anywhere so poor and I felt so many contradictions about my privileged Western background and just touring such a poor place. Being anti-imperialist but turning up in people’s towns and villages because I derived my power from that same imperialism. I felt the same way when Latin Quarter went to East Germany as we did, twice.

Tunisia has been colonised for thousands of years, most of the references in the lyric are to the effects of colonialism. The idea that a photograph “steals the soul” of the person photographed derives from the 19th Century response of some native peoples to the tendency of Western explorers to want to record, as “colourful”, the people whose countries they had conquered and whose way of life they had destroyed. Mike Jones

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