Saturday Neet

A short song as part of the WEA NE at 100 years.

It’s standin’ room only in the bar
An’ the lads are full o’ glee
For we’re bound ower for the year
An’ sup as one big family.

Saturday neet is our neet oot,
Saturday neet for us lads;
An’ we’re all here for a good sing-song
An’ a good crack t’ be had.

Our pit shaft’s sunk an’ doon we gan,
We’ve dug it oot a–plenty;
An’ what we’ve won is man for man,
Like our jars they’re never empty.

Saturday neet is our neet oot, etc.

Our pianist chap he loves Woodbine
For a drink or two he’s in;
He knocks oot a tune we aal knaa
So he’ll play it ower again.

Saturday neet is our neet oot, etc.

Saturday neet is our neet oot,
Saturday neet as ever;
Then oot o’ the blue somebody shouts:

(recit)  “Haven’t ye all got hymes te gan te?”

G. F. Phillips

  • Saturday Night by Oliver Kilbourn.  As William Feaver puts it in relation to the Mass Observation Unit’s documentation of the pitmen in the 1930s ‘the diffident photographer, always on the threshold of other people’s worlds, feeling intrusive, couldn’t hope to match [this painting’s] friends and neighbours informality.’
  • (pp 90, Pitmen Painters The Ashington Group 1934-1984, William Feaver, Carcanet Press, 1993).

A version of this song was recorded for a film on the work of the WEA in its centenary year:   A Century of Learning by World Sight Media Ltd, 2012.

Our pianist chap won’t play for cash
For a drink or two he plays;
The songs he knaas he won’t make flash
Because he knaas nay other way.

Saturday neet is our neet oot,
An’ we’ll sing with aal our might;
Saturday neet an’ the more we sup
Then the more we put the world t’ reets.



Bait Time

A short song as part of the WEA NE at 100 years.


Bait Time*

Wi’ me an’ me pony there’s this tub,
It’s time again for haulin’;
An’ as black nuggets smash and fall,
It’s grit and sweat I’m tastin’.

Oh, Bait time is a long time comin’.
Bait time is a long way doon.
Bait time is a long time comin’.
Bait time cannot come t’ soon.

This tub is empty the filler fills,
An’ there’s little time t’ spare;
It’s thirsty work – it seems nay end
In this foul an’ dirty air -.

Oh, bait time, etc.

Now it’s our tub we must haul away
An’ it rolls an’ squeaks in the dark;
But I knaas when it’s time t’ stop
Wi’ me belly’s rumblin’ tark.

Oh, bait time, etc.

Well, me sarnies have their rich fruit seam,
Me pony grabs a bit;
An’ when it’s broken off for him
He makes short wark o’ it.

Oh, bait time was a long time comin’.
Bait time man and beast must choose.
Bait time was a long time comin’.
Bait time there’s nay time t’ lose’.

  1. F. Phillips

*   based on a painting by Jimmy Floyd, Bait Time, 1946.

Experience gives to Jimmy Floyd’s Bait Time its air of complicity as the pony reaches over to take a bit of jam sandwich.’

(from Pitmen Painters:  The Ashington Group 1934-1984 by William Feaver, Mid-Northumberland Arts Group, Carcanet Press, 1993).

A version of this song was recorded for a film about the work of the WEA in its centenary year:  A Century of Learning, Part 2 by World Sight Media Ltd, 2012.



A short piece called ‘Eastwind’

Background to the East Wind song:
Librettist:  G. F. Phillips.
Music:  Michael Szpakowski.

Extract from an interview with Michael Szpakowski by Nathaneil Stern, March 2006, Rhizome Net Art News.

NS: I hadn’t seen your “Five Operas” Shockwave works (5 Operas ) , and they kind of blew  me away. When were these made? Can you talk a bit about the  collaborative process? The combination of Kurt Weill-like music with Brechtian themes, a bit of fluxus style- …
Can you tell me about your choices for visual representation  of the sound?

MS: This project was a coming together of two lives: a personal project & a massive collaboration, which included arts outreach work. The end product is online, the original material & collaborators were  gathered & recruited online, but lots of stuff happened in the real  world in between.

I issued a call for opera libretti exactly 100  words in length & received a large number of submissions. Heartbreaking choosing, but I narrowed it down to five that I thought  were unequivocally great. I set them to music & found singers–a  chorus from a local Primary School & soloists from a Further  Education (16-19 yrs) college.

It was a long series of rehearsals–  the music is difficult and demanding to sing. We did a performance of  the pieces one night for the kids’ parents and friends & recorded  everything the next day. Then I created the visuals. A lot of these  consist of found or appropriated stuff – my drawing skills are  rudimentary, but I can cut & paste with the best of them…


(From East Wind, a tempera panel by Harry Wilson, one of the Pitman Painters of Ashington, 1935.)

‘In the panel, disposed around a street corner that represents all the essentials of a two-point perspective, saplings whip in the wind, figures are tugged, a newsboy blows on his fingers and, to leeward, three becalmed shoppers look at a shoe display.’

William Feaver, Art Critic of the Sunday Observer

(Everyone is dressed in heavy clothes for winter).

Stage left, emerging from a CHORUS of children, a NEWSBOY is pushed forward, carrying a heavy bag of newspapers.  He stops, putting his heavy bag down beside him and blows on his fingers, feeling the cold.  The CHORUS OF CHILDREN push him forward again.  Eventually he is left to move forward on his own.  He stops, looks behind him, stands stage left.  He looks towards stage right.

Stage right, TWO WOMEN SHOPPERS, one rubbing her gloved hands together, the other shopper, wearing no gloves, puts her arms inside her coat, trying to keep warm.

Then stage left, the NEWSBOY, watches a WOMAN BYSTANDER move her way past him, clasping her gloved hands around her coat.

Meanwhile, the NEWSBOY picks up his heavy bag, pulls a newspaper out, before moving slowly near to her.  He sings:

Get your papers!
Get your papers!

The WOMAN BYSTANDER turns to look at him.

Huh!  Them papers!
They make us or break us,
Whatever way they want us t’ be
They just talk doon t’ ye an’ me.

The NEWSBOY goes to hand the WOMAN BYSTANDER a folded newspaper.  She rummages deep into her coat pocket, taking her time to find some coins to give to him.

Ta, bonny lad.

The WOMAN BYSTANDER folds the newspaper into the opposite coat pocket from which she produced her coins.

Aw!  Me pins are feelin’ bad
While ye stand cold an’ snivellin’
I’m gannin’ hyem a –shiverin’

In that East wind
Branches bend west,
Breakin’ what’s old,
Leavin’ what’s best.

The NEWBOY moves back to shelter in front of the CHORUS OF CHILDREN stage left, putting his heavy bag down, blowing on his fingers again.

Stage right, TWO WOMEN SHOPPERS wave the WOMAN BYSTANDER over to join them.  She goes to shelter with them.

But we’ve had t’ find shelter
Round this shoe shop corner.

Lookin’ at shoes.

Just for something t’ do.

ALL move forward toward centre stage, the NEWSBOY pushed forward again by the CHORUS OF CHILDREN, with his heavy bag of newspapers dragging along the ground.

For that East wind
It gives us trouble;
But let’s not forget
It’s the same for us all.

G. F. Phillips

One of 5 Operas, East Wind was first performed in Epping, Essex at 7 pm on Friday 17th June 2003 with a group of singing students from Epping Forest College as principals and a chorus of year 5 students from Chipping Ongar Primary School.  It appeared online on 27th June, 2003.


Extra recit. and verse:

The damn wind gans where I gan;
I gan where the damn wind gans.

TWO SHOPPERS (recit.):
So yous still complain.
Yous still complain.

Oh, how this East wind,
Bitter an’ raw,
Strengthenin’ now,
Gusts more an’ more.