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The Can o' Tea

  • Matt McGinn

    And the champagne flows, the wineglass glows
    The shipyard gates will have tae close
    They say it's a' because o' me
    They cannae hae their can o' tea
    Doo ri amaday, their can o' tea

    For forty years, and fourteen mair,
    The men that worked wi' Donald Blair
    Have aye had a middle of the morning plan
    To stop at ten, to bile their can

    Now Donald he was awfu' wise
    For though he had always closed his eyes
    He never ever gave us leave
    So he'd have a trump card up his sleeve

    One morning Donald came to me
    He pointed tae my can o' tea
    Then he let oot an awfu' roar
    Young man, says he, get oot that door

    But the men said I'd been victimised
    'Cause the union I had organised
    When I laid doon my can o' tea
    A thousand men marched oot wi' me

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1978:] As a young man, Matt McGinn worked in a Clyde shipyard, and despite the fame and recognition he later received as a singer/ songwriter/ actor/ author, he never forgot his days 'in the Yard'. This is only one of his many true stories in song, which tells of a Clyde-wide strike [c. 1964] which occurred when bosses refused to allow the men to continue to have a morning tea-break. (Notes Iain MacKintosh & Hamish Imlach, 'A Man's A Man')

    [1987:] Come to think of it, Harland's [the shipyards] and me were never designed to be friends. Six months I was with them in their Govan yard and we didn't get on well together. The charisma wasn't there in my relationship with their head timekeeper, for example, who one day walked into the platers' shed and kicked over the brazier fire sending burning coals sprawling at the feet of the men. A nice chap he was and it was just his wee way of showing his slight disapproval of the men having been boiling their cans a few minutes before dinner time. It was a pity mind you that it left some of the men without tea for their 'lunch' but these things happen.
    After trying unsuccessfully to get some of the men nonetheless to complain that it wasn't precisely the way they liked to be treated I decided to go it alone. Well not exactly alone. I was after all the 'Burners Helpers Shop Steward'. (How low can you get?)
    'I would like to see the head timekeeper please,' I spoke to one of his aides. 'And who are you?' said he without looking up from the desk where he was scanning over some papers. 'My name is McGinn. I am the Burners Helpers Shop Steward N U G M W.' 'Oh,' he said, most impressed. 'And what do you want to see him about?' 'Well,' says I. 'He's after kicking over a fire in the platers' shed, to which I cannot object, although I should imagine your insurance company might, but the men's tea and sugar and cans were kicked over in the process and I want to demand an apology; either that or police proceedings are going to be taken on the grounds that he was thereby interfering with the men's private property.' 'Aye well,' said he staring smirkily into my face, 'I'll leave word to that effect.' [...]
    At precisely three o'clock that day Sammy Wylie the burner and I were heating up our cans for tea, when a bowler hat popped up from the side of the boat and a voice quietly said, 'Up you two go to the office and collect your cards.' Quietly we went and did collect. The money and cards were lying waiting and made up to the penny. As we were walking out of the office, another bowler pulled Sam aside, 'Hold on a second, Mister Wylie.' I waited outside for Sam who came out with a disturbed look on his face. 'They've asked me to start in the morning,' said Sammy. 'I'm no' gonnie dae that.' 'Look Sam for Christ sake, they're out to get me and they'll have done it one way or another. Just you start in the morning.' (McGinn of the Calton 41f)

Quelle: Scotland

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