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The Old Man's Song

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At the turning of the century I was a boy of five,

Me father went to fight the Boers and never came back alive.

Me mother was left to bring us up, no charity she'd seek,

So she washed and scrubbed and scrapped along on seven and six a week.

When I was twelve I left the school and went to find a job,

I took the royal shilling and went off to do my bit.

I lived on mud and tears and blood, three years or thereabouts,

Then I copped some gas in flanders and got invalided out.

Well when the war was over and we'd settled with the Hun,

We got back into civvies and we thought the fighting done.

We'd won the right to live in peace but we didn't have such luck,

For we found we had to fight for the right to go to work.

In '26 the General Strike found me out in the streets,

Although I'd a wife and kids by then and their needs I had to meet,

For a brave new world was coming and I taught them wrong from right,

But Hitler was the lad who came and taught them how to fight.

My daughter was a landgirl, she got married to a Yank,

And they gave my son a gong for stopping one of Rommel's tanks.

He was wounded just before the end and he convalesced in Rome,

He married an Eyetie nurse and never bothered to come home.

My daughter writes me once a month, a cheerful little note,

About their colour telly and the other things they've got.

She's got a son, a likely lad; he's nearly twenty-one,

And she tells me now they've called him up to fight in Vietnam.

We're living on the pension now, it doesn't go too far,

Not much to show for a life that seems like one long bloody war.

When you think of all the wasted lives it makes you want to cry,

I'm not sure how to change things, but by Christ we'll have to try.