Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics:
Old Mans Tale

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The Old Man's Tale

The Old Man's Tale
(Ian Campbell tune traditional, 'Nicky Tams')

 At the turning of the century I was a boy of five
 Me father went to fight the Boers and never came back alive.
 Me mother was left to bring us up, no charity she'd seek,
 So she washed and scrubbed and scrapped along on seven and six a week.

 When I was twelve I left the school and went to find a job
 I took the royal shilling and went off to do my bit,
 I lived on mud and tears and blood, three years or thereabouts
 Then I copped some gas in flanders and got invalided out.

 Well when the war was over and we'd settled with the Hun,
 We got back into civvies and we thought the fighting done,
 We'd won the right to live in peace but we didn't have such luck,
 For we found we had to fight for the right to go to work

 In '26 the General Strike found me out in the streets,
 Although I'd a wife and kids by then and their needs I had to meet,
 For a brave new world was coming and I taught them wrong from right,
 But Hitler was the lad who came and taught them how to fight.

 My daughter was a landgirl, she got married to a Yank
 And they gave my son a gong for stopping one of Rommel's tanks.
 He was wounded just before the end and he convalesced in Rome
 He married an Eyetie nurse and never bothered to come home.

 My daughter writes me once a month, a cheerful little note
 About their colour telly and the other things they've got.
 She's got a son, a likely lad; he's nearly twenty-one
 And she tells me now they've called him up to fight in Vietnam.

 We're living on the pension now, it doesn't go too far
 Not much to show for a life that seems like one long bloody war.
 When you think of all the wasted lives it makes you want to cry
 I'm not sure how to change things, but by Christ we'll have to try.

Judith Small's 'Mothers, Daughters, Wives' has a related theme,
as do some of Eric Bogle's songs.
Download the song in PDF format for printout etc. Download the song in RTF format for editing etc.