Saturday, 20 February 2010

Two Songs by G.F. Phillips

The Watermen

The Craig family worked as watermen along the quayside in Newcastle. They carried out many a rescue from the Tyne at a time when there was about an average of one drowning per week in the mid to late 19th century.

James Craig he lived in Ouse Street, a Quayside waterman,
Who at the age of fourteen he went from lad to man;
He heard shouts from the river; a man was in distress,
He was saved, he was saved gannin’ under
Afore the waters got him forst.

An’ James his reputation was sealed reit from the start,
The tark that he was dead brave, a true waterman at heart,
For he lived his life in danger - divvn’t aal the watermen –
How he saved, how he saved some twenty folk,
They were one an’ the same t’ him.

His son who was his namesake he didn’t have to ask,
He would be a waterman an’ got doon to the task;
He learned the swell an’ currents; he was the savin’ grace;
Who was there, who was there to be rescued,
An’ nowt bad was said t’ their face.

Then George put in a rescue, a brotherly resolve
An’ got a floatin’ polisman in a slippery tight hold;
So up he comes, he’s collared; they were cold an’ tired an’ wet.
So shackled, so shackled to his body, oh -
Much better than a noose round his neck.

Now last of aal was Joseph he wouldn’t be ootdone,
He never bragged aboot it or said me, A’m yor best son;
He never wanted glory an’ he never wanted fame;
To be strong to be strong to haul them up
If he must he’d de it agin.

A Second Look (Hannah’s Song)
‘I have often said I was, still am and always will be a plain country woman, and proud to be a plain country woman.’
Hannah Hauxwell of Low Birk Hatt farm, in Teesdale

With Hannah’s trusty bucket
She trudged down to the burn,
Her stick to break its icy grip,
How living alone she learned
To savour every running drop
To wash in, drink and cook,
The least she’s got – she’s none too proud
To give things a second look.

Long has been her moor-land home,
Her farm’s ancestral seat;
Her dale this one big garden,
And through winter’s slow retreat
Make do and mend they were her ways
Despite her threadbare looks,
The least she’s got – she’s none too proud
To give things a second look.

Now Hannah’s trusty bucket
Hung up it had no worth
For age had loosened all her grip
And ice hardened rebirth;
Though she to village ways was bound,
With keepsakes, all she took
Reminds her that she’s none too proud
To give things a second look.