Australian Folk Songs
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The Song Of The Shearers' Cook (1933)
When a station is about to start the shearing, the roll is called. Then tho men elect a representative, who looks
after their interests throughout the shearing, acting on behalf of the A.W.U as intermediary between the men and
the boss. Then the rep. says to the shearers: "Now, men, the next thing you will have to do is to elect a cook.
Here you have half a dozen candidates--there may be more or less. "Here is the 'Berlin Bun, and here is the
'Jack o' Diamonds. There you see 'Old Thargomindah Mike,' 'Bullaroras Terror,' 'Scotch Mist,' and not forgetting
'Boxing Biddy' (a six-foot lubra weighing 13 stone, and a good cook), and you can have whichever you require.'
He then makes the candidates stand apart in a row against the shed wall, and their respective supporters go over
to them, like boys picked at rounders, and the magnet. who draws best wins. They have previously ascertained the
rate of pay demanded by each, of course, perhaps 10/ a week per man engaged in shearing, but varying with the number,
of men to cater for; the more, the lower the individual rate. Some cooks are good and some are, well, listen to the following:
There's a little shed called Springfield,
Down among the hills;
Where the shearers sit and curse the cook,
And talk of tucker-bills.
The pouring rain doth make them growl,
The machinery doesn't suit;
The boss, he growls about the cut,
But, he isn't game to "shoot."
The poor old rep., he looks done up
For want of food to eat;
For, though he often fed on snake,
He dares not touch the meat,
For the "floaters" which the cook serves up
Are something just a treat.
There's Paddy Harris who never swore,
Or said a thing unkind;
But when he saw our food dished up,
And served at dinner time,
His temper fused that blessed day,
And he cried: "We'll sack him straightaway."
So now he's gone we thank the Lord;
And the morning that he fled;
Old Mike McMahony for us at Mass,
Prayed, "Kill the rotter dead."
From the NSW Newspaper the The Scone Advocate Fri 21 Jul 1933 p. 4.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory