THE HUNDRED-TON CRANE (Paul O’Brien)

 

 Line up in the morning and stare at your shoes

Like meat for the gaffer to pick and to choose

With a tap on the shoulder he gives you the sign

You can hump coal all day for two shillings and nine

 

One for to drive it and one for to guide

four for to fill it in the darkness inside

You’ll work like a miner shovelling coal

Scraping the floor deep down in the hold

 

I’m telling you jack,

your life’s not the same

when you spend your day loading

that hundred-ton crane

 

You think of the blacks with catchy work songs

Plucking the cotton and humming along

You won’t be singing, you’ll just try to breathe

Coughing up lumps when your lungs start to bleed

 

I’m telling you jack,

your life’s not the same

when you spend your day loading

that hundred-ton crane

 

To pick up your pay there’s no need to go far

They’re dishing it out in the Liverpool Bar

And you’ll envy the cattle-men, envy their trade

As your black hands clench the few bob that you’ve made

 

I’m telling you jack,

your life’s not the same

when you spend your day loading

that hundred-ton crane

 

There’s mist in the morning when leaving your home

There’s smog in the evening choking the town

You head up the hill now you’ve finished your shift

You’ll be back the next day to shovel and lift

 

I’m telling you jack,

your life’s not the same

when you spend your day loading

that hundred-ton crane