Henry's Songbook

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Four Pounds A Day

  • Stan Kelly / Eric Winter

    Four pounds a day my lads and nothing much to do
    No trouble from the foreman he's in the union too
    Some want the rain to go to Spain we want the rain to stay
    We're rained off and contented on four pounds a day

    The rain is falling on the site, the tea's upon the brew
    We're sittin' on our arseholes with bugger-all to do
    Outside our picks and shovels, lads, they slowly rust away
    We're rained off and contented on four pounds a day

    It's early in the morning, we start at ten o'clock
    We search the skies impatiently, Bejays! I felt a drop
    The can mates are on bonus and each brew means better pay
    We're rained off and contented on four pounds a day

    So Freddie got the cards out, the racing page as well
    And as for the contractors we hope they go to hell
    It looks as if the rain's set in, we shan't do much today
    What matter if on Friday we all draw our pay

    (as sung by The Ian Campbell Folk Group)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1961:] Possibly a parody of 'Four Pence A Day', a British industrial folk song [about child labour and exploitation] sung by Ewan MacColl. (Acc. to Reprint Sing Out 3, 144)

  • [1995:] Well, at least Teesdale was new to me [as the subject of a BBC radio programme by J. L.]. I amused myself collecting fragments of an old song and got Jimmie [Ewan MacColl] a job completing it:

    Fourpence a day, my lads, and verra hard to wark
    With never a pleasant look from a scruffy-looking Turk
    His heart it may fail, his conscience may give way
    And he'll raise us our wages to fivepence a day

    (Joan Littlewood, Joan's Book 386)

  • [1997:] Original?


    The ore is waiting in the tubs the snow's upon the fell
    Canny folk are sleeping yet but lead is reet to sell
    Come me little washer lad come let's awa
    We're bound down to slavery for four pence a day
    It's early in the morning we rise at five o'clock
    And the little slaves come to the door to knock, knock, knock
    Come me little washer lad, come let's awa
    It's very hard to work for four pence a day
    My father was a miner and lived down in the town
    Twas hard work and poverty that always kept him down
    He aimed for me to go to school, but brass he could not pay
    So i had to go to the washing rake for four pence a day
    My mother rises out of bed with tears on her cheeks
    Puts my wallet on my shoulders, which has to serve a week
    It often fills her great big heart when she unto me does say
    I never thought you would have worked for four pence a day
    Fourpence a day, me lads, and very hard to work
    And never a pleasant look from a gruffy looking Turk
    His conscience it may fall and his heart it may give way
    Then he'll raise our wages to nine pence a day

  • [1997:] While I was waiting for the start of my first university term, I took a job on a building site with a Cambridge firm. We were building the Cambridge University Engineering Laboratories and at the end of the first week I drew twenty quid odd -- including overtime. Twenty quid a week -- four pounds a day -- it seemed a long way from the fourpence a day earned by the lads who did child labour in the mines. It made me think that some of the old industrial ballads are not as true now as they once were. Several times, I've been told that this song is "anti working-class" and "an affront to the dignity of labour." I can only say "Honest, I didn't mean it to be" -- and the lads on the building site loved it. Eric Winter, who liked the song right from the start, wrote the third verse. (Stan Kelly website)

Quelle: England

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04.01.2000, aktualisiert am 15.10.2003