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The Navvies' Lament (1918)
Oh why is it I have to pay.
Even from when a little boy,
Give a strict account for every day
And for every little joy.
I thought when I went to the sports
With Snowie and the rest,
The Bobbles wore both the right sorts,
Though in uniforms were dressed.
No work for ie that day. Oh no !
What ? Do you think
That I could go and work for Joe
Whln tliero was beer to drink ?
We started out at 10 o'clock,
To test Joe Ryan's fare,
And little Johnnies on the block,
Let people know we were there
We had a right royal time.
With money we were free;
Joe Ryan's beer was just prime,
And we were on the spree.
But I could not have my day of fan,
Or have my little boose,
The law watched closely all I've done,
And weaved it's little noose.
I staggered around with great delight,
I hadd a lot to say,
But the Bobbies downed me that night,
And I have got to pay,
One thing to me seems very hard
When I go on the spree,
I must not fight against my pard,
Or with Bobbies make too free.
I cracked Bob Dickens on the jaw,
And Snowie in the ribs,
Till I was told to hit no more,
And then I landed Trib.
Snowie said he'd had enough,
But others wanted more
Not one of us could keep quite still
Unless upon toe floor.
I don't drink for the full of it,
And now I'll tell you why
Beer always appeals to me,
And for beer I'm always dry.
So what ai time we could have had,
And did have I must say,
But the thoughts ot the Bobbies drives me mad,
Because I've got to pay.
Oh ! Dear, I did not dream,
Of the things that they would do,
They are not the lags that they seem.
Though they were dressed in blue.
Next day tried hard to see,
All of my silly capers,
But memory would not recall to me,
Till Fraser served tle papeors.
Then twenty miles to the oourt,
In the coach that runs the mail
To plead I don't know how I ought,
Or how to tell my tale,
A stern old Judge sat oil the Bench,
Backed up by a J.P.
He said "Can you your thirst not quench
With a nice strong cup of tea ?"
I asked him to draw it mild,
And not to rub it in ;
Tea is alright for a child,
But for a navvy it's too thin."
"This man is flned thirty bob"--
Or shillings-he did say,
Or else a week in prison lob,
And so I had to pay.
Sadly I mourn for the past;
The boose I might have had,
But beer, like youth, cannot last,
Though beer is never bad.
If a man could only drink always,
And never be quite drink,
And remember al the things he says,
He'd have the Bobbles in a funk.
All that happened to me that day,
All distant now doth seem,
"But when the Judge told me to pay,
I knew it was no dream.
And now my lads, when you go out,
Be careful what you say,
And watch the bobbies when you shout,
Or you will have to pay.
From the Victorian Newspaper the Alexandra and Yea Standard and Yarck, Gobur, Thornton and Acheron Express p. 3.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory