THE LAST DAYS OF MANKIND ACT II SCENE 15
Office, HQ. Officers at desks, a club-like atmosphere. Roda Roda enters.
RODA RODA (singing, to a tune from the operetta ‘Der Verschwender’):
Firstly, three cheers for a life without sorrow,
Three cheers for the here and now of war,
Making good news up for tomorrow,
A journalist’s life is what I adore!
Although I’m fit, although I’m healthy,
I shan’t be soldiering for our nation,
|:But I will be making myself wealthy
From Field of Honour press syndication.:|
Secondly, something I do have to say –
The entire home front’s too dull and slow,
That’s why I had to fight my way
Into our great War Press Bureau.
Thirdly, trenches close to enemy fire
Are no place for the press to avoid a barrage;
|:The duties to which we exemptees aspire
Are feuilleton composing and light reportage.:|
Fourthly, from the rear, with lightning speed,
I’ll report every battle’s ebb and flow,
And describe, from back here, each heroic deed –
I don’t have to see them, I already know.
I shall stick all this out till victory’s in sight,
I’m always a winner, you need have no fear;
|: When I pick up my pen and take aim to write
Just observe how quickly our foes disappear.:|
Fifthly, three cheers for the way I’m regarded,
It’s a family thing here, quite hard to explain,
As our nation fights fiercely, as our lads are bombarded
We reporters record all their anguish and pain.
Sixthly and seventhly, much the same craic,
No bullets can reach me, so on with the show!
|:Life’s glorious, uproarious, I’m on the pig’s back;
War bizz means more bizz like no bizz I know!:|
OFFICERS (rising, singing to the tune of ‘Tannebaum’):
No tabloid quack,
The broadsheets alone are Rosenbaum-blessed.
No office hack,
The battlefront’s where he knocks out his best.
I seek action here,
I seek action there,
There’s no dashing detail I can’t write about.
The only fear,
As if I’d care,
Is some stray grenade blows my entrails out.
Oh, he’s left behind
The home front game
To roam where the warrior contemns the freeloader;
Oh, He’s left behind
The Rosenbaum name,
Now the world celebrates him as Roda Roda.
(They all head out, laughing, back-slapping, leaving a major behind.)
RODA RODA (shouting back): Major, tell the general your colonel’s got to be posted. He refused me a permit for Fort 5 at Przemysl. He didn’t know who I am. No excuse for that! I’ll teach these gentlemen discipline! (Off.)
 Alexander Roda Roda, Sándor Friedrich Ladislaus Rosenfeld (1872-1945), see I.7. In the original Julius Ferdinand Hirsch (1874-?), New Free Press journalist, also appears on. There are several War Press Bureau writers in the play; Roda Roda is prominent among these, and here combines his role with Hirsch’s.
‘The Spendthrift’ , a play by Ferdinand Raimund (1790-1836). It contains several songs, including the popular one on which this is based, ‘Hobellied’, ‘Plane Song’; music by Conradin Kreutzer (1780-1849).
 One of the names (in –stern, -berg, - baum) arbitrarily given as surnames to Jews in the 18th century.