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"A Butcher's Lament;" Or, Adieu To Wednesday (1909)

Original Poetry

Time once was when no holiday
Obtained for the Butcher Man,
But work with might from morn till night,
Was the slav'ry unjust plan.
A meeting was held of employees,
Our mission was to seek
From master men conclave then
One half-holiday per week.
They readily granted our fervent prayer
When we asked them years ago,
We formed, our great clubs then and there,
And kicked with a willing toe,
That leathern football hard and long,
We never had such a boon.
For I myself, with "Beckwith" John,
Convened that "meet" in the years long gone.
That's the reason I'm singing this heart felt song,
Of the Wednesday afternoon,
"Noon," "Noon,"
That glorious afternoon.

But this is a restless, fretful age,
That clamours for something new,
Whether sighted or bland, it makes its mind,
To at once dispense with you.
Now our cricket and football clubs are not,
As they formerly used, to be,
No drag despatch, for the Wednesday match,
We one time hailed with glee ;
We, who valiantly fought on open field,
For supremacy with the ball,
Since you, Dear Wednesday, had to yield,
We get no games at alL
No more our procession, gay and grand,
When we raised that thrilling tune,
We created a stir throughout the land,
With our famous cleaver and marrow-bone band,
As we called forth "Joy Bells," with strong right hand,
On a Wednesday afternoon,
"Noon," "Noon."
Dear old Wednesday afternoon.

For nineteen wars you blended with
Both man and master fine.
If tides would turn, it's well to learn
Just where to draw the line.
If a change must come in the Butch'ring trade,
Why didn't they try to fix
A code of rules, to drop down tools
On Saturday night at six.
Reforms are splendid, reforms give cheer,
But is it not a mistake
To revert to working the livelong year
And forfeit the mid-week break ?
Ay, Wednesday, you were by many blest.
They repealed you all too soon,
And I'm slinging a tip, 'twill be confessed.
You suited the food purveyor best ;
They'll embrace you "anon," when they're finished this test,
You Wednesday afternoon,
"Noon." "Noon,"
You glorious afternoon.



From the Port Melbourne newspaper the Standard Saturday 3 July 1909, p. 2.

The Butchers' Half-Holiday was a topic of much discussion in Australian newspapers as the following examples show:

The Border Watch (Mount Gambier) Saturday 24 October 1874 p. 2.

Butchers' Half-Holiday.

WE the undersigned, Butchers of Mount Gambier, do hereby agree to close our respective places of business
every Wednesday afternoon at One o'clock, commencing from the first Wednesday in November, 1874.


The Ballarat Saturday 10 January 1885 p. 4.


SIR,--I saw by your paper of the 7th inst., that the hairdressers were going to observe Wednesday as the
half-holiday. Now, Sir, I think it would be good thing if the butchers did the same. What difference can
it make to the drapers if the butchers have a different holiday to them ! None, I should think. If ever
there were tradesmen who deserved a holiday it is the butchers, that is judging them by my husband who
is one, and a very good hard-working man I find he is. Their hours are much lunger than any other trades-
men's, having to work early and late. Hoping I have not intruded on your valuable space, and that someone
else will take this matter up.--Yours, &c., BUTCHER'S WIFE.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory