Billy Cocked Hat
I am a young man. I'm in my prime.
I work as hard as any man can,
Digging and a-picking at the railway line
As a rough and a tumble navvying man.
Cho: In my billy cocked hat, silken waistcoat,
Corduroy trousers tied at the knee,
A shovel, a pick, a one-wheel barrow,
And a jug full of gin when I takes my ease.
Living in a shanty, feeding fleas,
Shoveling muck all through the day,
Maggoty meat and mouldy peas,
And the tommy-shop takes nearly all my pay.
Every Sunday, I goes on the randy,
Finds my way to the nearest town.
If I sees a peeler with 'is truncheon hanging,
I ups with my fist and I knocks 'im down.
Blasting tunnels where the line runs deep,
Digging out bodies where the roof has fell,
There's many a navvy took a long, long sleep,
Reward for 'is labour's a funeral bell.
Contract's finished, the navvy's gone,
And trains now run on the lines 'e's laid.
People will wonder in the days to come
At the work that's been done by the navvying trade.
Tommy-shop is the British equivalent of the American "company store." As sung by
Gary & Vera Aspey on "Stories, Songs, Humour," 1962.