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.

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.

G. F. Phillips

 

Inspiration Behind ‘The North it Starts Reet Heor’

The song lyrics were all conceived at different times and have their own in-built sequences before being collected under the broader and over-arching title: The North its starts reet heor.

Bait Time, Saturday Night and East Wind (scores 4, 5 and 6) were a little sequence on their own relating to three paintings by the group of Pitmen Painters of Ashington, the paintings now form part of the group’s permanent collection and housed at Woodhorn Colliery, Northumberland. The first two songs were featured in a WEA Centenary video and put on You Tube. The composer was Paul Beck, a jazz musician and one-time Adult Education tutor. The final song East Wind was originally set as a theatre sketch and is now part of a multi-media piece called Five Operas with music by Michael Szpakowski, a multi-media composer from Essex.

A Second Look (Hannah’s Song), Hoppings Song, The Watermen, Kriegspiele (War Games) and The Spur in the Dish are all incidental pieces but with northern connections. These are scores 2, 3, 7, 8 and 11 respectively. Hannah’s Song lyric is the only piece that is realised as a poem. My historical sources give the exact details behind these lyrics. As for my inspiration, it was a way of recording the personal achievement as regards Hannah’s Song and The Watermen along with the world of childhood for the other two lyrics. The Spur in the Dish is entirely different being sung from a lone female perspective, and a way of giving things a bit of a gender balance. I have tried to give the seriousness of the prospect of hunger and an empty larder a lighter touch where I could.

Scores 9 and 10 have come from earlier attempts at writing about the railway pioneers in the north, in particular, George Stephenson. Pitman’s Ditty and The Tale of Betty Stephenson are two of seven songs about the railwayman’s life in a sequence called Coupling/Uncoupling. In fact, there are several additional songs because they were intended to be part of either a play or a community opera.

It was after writing the title song: The North it starts Reet Heor that I began to put all these songs under the bigger picture of an all-embracing northern connection. The idea came to me because everyone has their own take on where the north actually beings so I decided to write it in a hopefully humorous, at least, light-hearted manner from a few disparate corners of the north. It is rather ironic really, seeing I was born in the south of England, but after twenty five years plus an adopted Geordie – surely.

G. F. Phillips
November 2012

SCRATCH AT THE SLATE

A farmer he knew tried to teach George the rules
In reading and writing soft-stone was his tool
For he’d made his own luck from the chance hand of fate
Now he’s gentleman and scholar to scratch at the slate.

Hi first job was bird scaring when he came up to ten
On the way past the hedgerows their nests count again
For he’d made his own luck from the chance hand of fate
Now he’s gentleman and scholar to scratch at the slate.

When they sunk Killy pit it would soon get drowned out,
He made do with machines, took apart they worked out
For he’d made his own luck from the chance hand of fate
Now he’s gentleman and scholar to scratch at the slate.

And to George it’s ideal he could keep well-informed,
His son did his bidding in that way George learned
For he’d made his own luck from the chance hand of fate
Now he’s gentleman and scholar to scratch at the slate.

Now as Chief Engineer he had men for to hire
And help with his letters and he signed them esquire

For he’d made his own luck from the chance hand of fate
Now he’s gentleman and scholar to scratch at the slate.

G. F. Phillips
(Published in the North Tyneside Steam anthology, edited by Keith Armstrong)

DEALER

Competition, competition,
Bulls or bears will grow;
Competition, competition,
Bids will come and go.

Everyday the bids flash up,
They’re flashing up on my screen:
Will you buy me? Will you sell?
They’re hanging there in between.

It’s game on a really gripping game on
And it’s always a thrill and chase for me;
And the hope is I can always stick it out
Or I’m back on the shelf, you see,

With competition, competition,
It keeps you on your toes;
Competition, competition,
Bids will come and go.

I mustn’t burn myself out,
But make a fast buck
Then the quicker I’m out…

Competition, competition –
I must live the dream;
Competition, competition,
Bids come fat or lean.

Everyday the bids flash up,
They’re flashing up on my screen:
Will you buy me? Will you sell?
They’re hanging there in between.

It’s game on a really gripping game on
And it’s always a thrill and chase for me…

If competition, competition,
It could flash my dream,
Competition, competition,
Bids come fat or lean.

Competition makes you…
Makes you want to dream…

*
Song One (from The Bull and Bear Song Cycle)
In and out of the Dealers’ Room

CHORUS OF DEALERS:

Everyday the bids flash up,
They’re flashing up on our screens:
Will you buy me? Will you sell?
They’re hanging there in between.

And with competition, competition,
It keeps you on your toes;
With competition, competition
Bids will come and go.

KARL:

It was Jasper, he struck this deal,
No way could I forget
For when you owe someone money
You’re always in their debt.

He said some tycoon wanted this shipping firm,
It will go down; its shares were low.
We can snap them up and sell them high
And it’s all because he’s in the know.

CHORUS OF DEALERS:

And everyday the bids flash up,
They’re flashing up on our screens:
Will you buy me? Will you sell?
They’re hanging there in between.

And with competition, competition,
It makes you live the dream;
With competition, competition
Bids come fat or lean.

KARL:

At first I didn’t know what to say
For he made great play of it;
But when we hit the jackpot we’ll be away
Because as he said if I stay on here
By the age of thirty five I would be burnt out.
And then the money I owe could be paid back,
And there would be plenty of money over
And I could start my own little business.

G. F. Phillip

Baby Blue

Gordon F. Phillips Takes Five

BABY BLUE *
There’s a sound that’s buggin’ me,
Baby blue (3),
An’ its’ diggin’ into me,
Baby blue (3).

But what you hear,
It’s all you ever wanted to hear (2),
Baby blue.
Come on, unwind.
Why can’t you give me more of your time? (2),
Baby blue.
There’s a tremor in the air,
Baby blue (3),
An’ it echoes in the air,
Baby blue (3).
But what you hear, etc.

There’s a sound that’s buggin’ me,
Baby blue (3),
An’ it’s diggin’ into me,
Baby Blue (3).

*In 5/4 time, based on the Dave Brubeck Quartet instrumental: Take Five
G. F. Phillips

JAZZ IT UP/SEX IT UP

If there’s something that you want to know,
You can google it and off you go;
But I don’t really know that much about you.

You gotta jazz it up (2)
Yeah you can sex it up (2)
Like they did sex it up (2)
So it looks good enough, yeah yeah yeah, about you.

You can tell me more like others would
And make it sound as if you’ve done some good
But then again it’s really down to you.
You gotta jazz it up, etc.

You may not think you’ve got that much to say;
But I can help you blow your blues away.
So feel the rhythm how it’s coming through.
You gotta jazz it up, etc.

G. F. Phillips

PREACHER WOMAN BLUES

This far and no further says the preacher man,
And me the preacher woman – and that be all I can.
And me the preacher woman – and that be all I can.
But the Good Book it don’t say never,
No the Good Book it don’t say never,
The Good Book it don’t say never,
It says woman equals man.

This far and no further says the chief layman.
And me the preacher woman water flowers when I can.
And me the preacher woman water flowers when I can.
But the Good Book it don’t say never,
No the Good Book it don’t say never,
The Good Book it don’t say never,
It says woman equals man.

This far and no further is the word of man.
And me the preacher woman – and that be all I can.
And me the preacher woman – and that be all I can.
But the Good Book it don’t say never,
No the Good Book it don’t say never,
The Good Book it don’t say never,
It says woman equals man.

(Performed at Newcastle City Library for International Women’s Day, March 8th 2013 by Gabriele mit Drei)

YOU JUST DO WHAT YOU LIKE

Oh, yes, you told me the money’s there;
But you’ve been spendin’ without a care.
If you did what you said,
But you don’t.
You just do what you like.

Just wait till pay day, that’s what you said;
But all the money went to your head.
If you did what you said,
But you don’t.
You just do what you like.

I’m tired of hearin’ – don’t say a word
For nothin’ changed from what I’ve heard.
If you did what you said,
But you don’t.
You just do what you like.

It don’t matter about me, oh, no
You just do what you like (recit. Freely)

 

G. F. Phillips

LONDON TOWN, LONDON DREAMS

If you can be someone a way of being someone,
Well, there’s nowhere better than London town;
For this is where the chance is and you’ll get the glances
As you go out on the town.

We all love to be at where we can be seen at,
And there’s nowhere better than London town;
For this is where the heart is, they roll out the red carpet,
Here’s the big shot he’s in town.

Whenever she dreams
She’s a part of you;
Whatever she schemes
She’s a part of you;
Whatever she schemes
She’s a part of your dreams,
London town, London town,
London dreams.

And at night it’s show-time it’s making for a good time,
And there’s nowhere better than London town.
You see it in the bright lights there’s so many bright lights
For this is the heart of town.

If you can be someone a way of being someone,
Well, there’s nowhere better than London town;
For this is where the chance is and you’ll get the glances
As you go out on the town.

Whenever she dreams
She’s a part of you;
Whatever she schemes
She’s a part of you;
Whatever she schemes
She’s a part of your dreams,
London town, London town,
London dreams.

 

THE ENERGY BILL SONG

They’ve got you on the run to run your juice,
They’ve got you on the run to run your juice.
Oh me oh my which one to choose,
You’ll be picking up the tab no matter whose.

You’ve gotta have a stash to burn your gas,
You’ve gotta have a stash to burn your gas.
Oh me oh my they cannot lose,
You’ll be picking up the tab but you don’t know whose.

What’s coming through the wires is all the same,
What’s coming through the pipes is all the same.
For everybody knows they’re coming the game,
For everybody knows they’re coming the game.

G. F. Phillips

If I Don’t Sing the Blues (Some Mean Old Blues)

Well, the man on the sax
He’ll crack up, paint it black,
If I don’t sing the blues (2)

And the man on the skins
Why, he’ll rub it in
If I don’t sing the blues (2)
Some mean old blues

And the man at the keys
He’ll look daggers at me;
And the man on guitar
He’ll feel below par;
And the man on the bass
He’ll go tripping his face
If I don’t sing the blues,
Some mean old blues…

G. F. Phillips
http://poetrytyneside.blogspot.co.uk
http://lance-bebopspokenhere.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

You’ve really gone an’ done it this time

You’re talkin’ to someone but you don’t know who.
You’re callin’ another it turned out they knew.
Oh, you’ve dropped yourself right in it.
Oh, you’ve put your foot right in it.
Oh, you’ve really gone an’ done it.
You’ve really gone an’ done it this time.
You say things you guess at so make out it’s true
It’s bad times for me for I’m dropped in it too.
Oh, there’s no way to mistake it.
Oh, there’s no way you can save it.
Oh, it’s true you like to brave it;
But you’ve really gone an’ done it this time.

You speak out an’ say things you think that’s it fine
Then run into trouble an’ can’t draw a line.
Oh, you’re good at rufflin’ feathers.
Oh, you’re good at it as ever.
Oh, you think you’re mighty clever.
You’ve really gone an’ done it this time.

G. F. Phillips

Ukulele River Girl Song

Down by the river when the moon’s above
It sent me crazy and it got me love,
I’m crazy for my ukulele girl.

Down by the river all through the night
I’ll keep my girl if I play it right,
I’m crazy for my ukulele girl.

She’s so irresistible,
But now to go and top it all
She’s a girl who loves to play it cool
That’s my ukulele girl.

Down by the river as I play along
I love a girl with a sense of fun,
That’s my baby ukulele girl.

Down by the river is the place to be,
I hold her tight; she’s safe with me,
That’s my baby ukulele girl.

She’s so irresistible, etc.
Down by the river when the moon’s above, etc…
Down by the river all through the night, etc…

G. F. Phillips

I’m Surfing for Loving

I’m Surfing for Loving
I’m surfing for loving
Where it’s night and where’s it’s day.
I’m surfing for loving
She can be a click away.
Girl of my dreams she’s out there? Can I find her?
She’s hiding away behind the Great Wall of China.

I’m surfing for loving
I’m surfing for another day;
I’m surfing for loving
I’m surfing through the month of May.
She’s frigid in Iceland; she’s perky in Malta.
She’s okay in L A she’s surfing on water.

I’m surfing for loving,
I’m surfing till she comes my way.

G.F. Phillips