"Grounds for Divorce" as written by Guy Edward John Garvey, Craig Lee Potter, Mark Potter, Peter James Turner and Richard Barry Jupp....
Mondays is for drinking to the seldom seen kid

I've been working on a cocktail called grounds for divorce
Polishing a compass that I hold in my sleeve
Down comes him on sticks but then he kicks like a horse

There's a tiny cigarette case
And the rest you can keep
And the rest you can keep
And the rest you can keep

There's a hole in my neighborhood
Down which of late I cannot help but fall
There's a hole in my neighborhood
Down which of late I cannot help but fall

Mondays is for drinking to the seldom seen kid

There's this whispering of jokers doing flesh by the pound
To a chorus of supposes from the little town whores
There'll be twisted karaoke at the Aniseed Lounge

And I'll bring you further roses
But it does you no good
And it does me no good
And it does you no good

There's a hole in my neighborhood
Down which of late I cannot help but fall
There's a hole in my neighborhood
Down which of late I cannot help but fall

There's a hole in my neighborhood
Down which of late I cannot help but fall

Someday we'll be drinking with the seldom seen kid


Lyrics submitted by toadtws, edited by simonatch

"Grounds for Divorce" as written by Guy Edward John Garvey Craig Lee Potter

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Grounds for Divorce song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentGood god, is this ever a song about alcoholism.

    Mondays are when the regulars at the bar drink to the narrator's son, whom he doesn't see very often because he's always at the bar.

    Unsurprisingly, his wife doesn't like that he's always there. He rarely comes home on time, either; he doesn't even use his compass/watch combo as a watch, so he never knows what time it is.

    There's fighting at this bar, too, and plenty of gambling. The "sticks" line refers to billiards. (This point is pretty clearly made in the video.) Guy has bet someone everything he has, but asks to keep a Chinese cigarette case, presumably his most prized possession.

    Can I just say that I love the chorus? What a beautiful, tortured sentence!

    In the second verse, some guys are sitting around a table playing cards ("jokers") and lending each other money ("flesh by the pound" is a reference to one of Shylock's lines in The Merchant of Venice) while some women look on and make comments. "Aniseed" is used to make absinthe.

    He may or may not have taken advantage of the ladies' availability; either way, he has plenty to apologize for. He's bought his wife roses before and he'll do it again, but his behavior doesn't change so he might as well not have bothered.

    And, depressingly, we learn that his son will be in here soon enough, following his dad's lead.

    I really, really like this song. What a stellar single!
    toadtwson February 14, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIn the lyric sheet that comes with the album, it's "polishing a compass that I hold in my sleep", "doubt comes in on sticks..", "a chinese cigarette case..." and the whole second verse "there's a whispering of jokers doing flesh by the pound. To a chorus of supposes from the little town hoods. There'll be twisted karaoke at the aniseed lounge. And i'd bring you further roses but it does you no good."

    aside from that, nice try.
    RoryMcon October 15, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with toadtw's interpretation of the song except for one thing. The "seldom seen kid" isn't in reference to a literal son, it's a nod to a friend of the band who recently died when they were making the album, singer/songwriter Brian Glancy according to Guy Garvey.

    The interview is here:
    youtube.com/…

    That aside, I agree completely. Few bands write better songs about alcoholism than Elbow. This song is awesome!
    StickstoMagneton April 24, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about the band's close friend, Brian Glancy, who died while they were working on this album.

    The hole in the neighborhood is Glancy's grave.

    Bringing the roses is taking them to Glancy's grave. I don't think a father would ever give his son roses . . .?

    Someday the members of the band will all die, so they will be drinking with Glancy, The Seldom Seen Kid, in the afterlife.
    wilsoncseanon April 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA cracking single, I must admit to taking onboard the other comments while reading this!!

    I saw it as a song about alcoholism and the fear of losing his love, but also the good it may do to them both.

    'The seldom seen kid' is indeed Brian Glancy, who they drink to in the first line, how you do to celebrate someones life. However this is also quite sad in itself, as alcohol has now become his escape. Possibly he is seeing Brian Glancy's escape (death) as a more permanent one?

    Of course the chorus is about Glancy's grave, and how it tears him apart everytime he sees it and he 'falls' down to square one again. As after every chorus they return to 'drinking to the seldom seen kid' so in the pub (his square one).

    Right, in my opinion verse one is all about the things he and his wife have done together. She bought him a compass/watch type thing, he knows he should go home (maybe even a hint from her before his drinking got so bad) but he just keeps rubbing it. Like if something itches, or is marked on like pen, you rub it to make it go away. Then the chinese cigarrete case (not tiny ciggarette case) is a present she gave him before everything started going downhill, or possibly a present from Glancy, either way it reminds him of good times or has some sentimental meaning and although he is willing to lose everything else (and admits he will) he holds this dear.

    The second verse in my opinion is about his interest in other women, he talks about whorese and 'flesh by the pound' which is paying for a body to use. And then goes on to how he buys his wife roses, but she knows why he does it, and because she does it doesn't make up for it. So in a way its stabbing himself in the foot because the only time he buys her roses is when he has hired a whore, she knows this and his guilt isnt at all consoled. Pretty sure someones already mentioned this (but just in case!) aniseed is a reference to absynthe, showing his further dependence on alcohol.

    Finally he says 'we'll be drinking with the seldom seen kid' this i think has a double meaning, how his wife's and his own relationship will die, like the seldom seen kid, and also how everyone else will also die. Giving it a more universal significance. Essay over.
    TwistedAgainon July 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think the ''hole in my neighbourhood" is a bar (ie. "drinking hole") and by saying of late i can't help which but fall i think he means he keeps going back to the bar
    asktheangelson September 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjust to comment on the compass in his sleeve point - I think people are taking that a bit literally. I very much doubt it is a combined compass/watch. If you think about it a compass tells you what direction to go in, and a watch obviously tells you the time, so I think he is saying that when he looks at his watch it tells him it is time that he should be going home, but he doesn't, hence this is one of the "grounds for divorce" that he spending more and more time in the pub when he should be at home with his wife
    gruneyon September 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen I hear 'there's a tiny cigarette case and the rest you can keep' that brings to mind occasions where I've doled out my share of cigarettes to needers at the bar.
    richard022on September 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree that 'the compass' is his watch - his watch is able to both direct him to the pub, (by showing him the time, so he can know when it's open), and direct him back home (by telling him it's late, and he's been drinking for hours/days). However he doesn't want to go home, so he conceals it from himself - i.e. he keeps it up his sleeve

    This dual meaning is reinforced when he says he keeps polishing it, he's referring to the material of his sleeve rubbing back and forth across the watch face both as he repeatedly raises his arm it to check to see if it's opening time yet, and also as he later raises his glass to his lips each time he takes a sip.
    vertigo1946on September 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe "hole in my neighbourhood" refers to the Temple bar in Manchester. I've been there a few times myself. It used to be an underground toilet.. it's tiny. It got converted into a bar. thisiswesternmorningnews.co.uk/features/Mercury-men-slip-shadows/article-322752-detail/…

    Here's a picture: traveljournals.net/pictures/l/7/…
    RaeSavon October 13, 2008   Link

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