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The Likes of Us (2006)

by Bob Bickerton

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The fisherman he turns her round and heads back to the shore, He’s finished with the fishing, he’s made his final trawl. Fifty years he’s worked the sea, but now his time is done, He says ‘You’ll ne’er see the likes of us again’. Oh the likes of us again, the likes of us again, Oh you’ll ne’er see the likes of us again. The farrier, the blacksmith. the weaver of the shawl, They’re trades fast disappearing, soon you won’t see them at all. No more you’ll hear the weaver’s loom, see sparks of anvil born, They say ‘You’ll ne’er see the likes of us again. I’ll tell you now the soldier’s trade, I wouldn’t miss at all, He kills and maims his fellow man all for an unknown cause. I’d like to meet the last of them, I’d like to hear him say, Oh you’ll ne’er see the likes of us again.
When Mary she came to Johnny, she walked o’er the mountain fair, And her cheeks were like the roses and the wind blew through her hair. They met at Kilcreggan and they spent awhile there, Says Mary to her Johnny, ‘I’ll not leave your side again’. But a press gang came upon them, looking for a sailor bold, And they’ve taken poor Johnny for to sail the seas so cold. And she’s cursed them and she’s fought them, till the blood ran through her hair, Mary cries to her Johnny ‘I’ll not leave your side again’. So she’s gone straight to the tailor and she’s got him make men’s clothes, And she’s cut off all her long hair, she looks like a sailor bold. She’s gone to the captain to enlist and serve the queen, To serve by her Johnny, she’ll not leave his side again. But the captain he says to her, you’re too young to sail the main, So she’s drawn out her long rapier, to his chin she took her aim, Saying ‘I’ll fight as good as any man, and I’ll fight you if needs be’. So he’s let her join the navy, she’ll not leave his side again. And they sailed out into Biscay, and the French they did engage, And the blood it ran like rivers all into the salty main, A shot came towards him and it pierced poor Johnny sore, Mary knelt down beside him, ‘I’ll not leave your side again’. The tears they welled up in his eyes, when he saw his Mary dear, And they talked about Kilcreggan, till he died without a fear. She’s laid him to rest, in the salty grave below, Saying ‘I’ll not leave my Johnny’ and she fell upon her sword. And when the captain saw her he said ‘Lads you’ll never see, A stronger love for a sailor, or greater courage on the sea’.
Back in ‘96 on a morning bright and clear, You set off for the mine, with Davy, Bill and Sam. You smiled as you went out, as you did every morning, And the lads always followed you below. Was it something in your eyes? It was something left unspoken. The fear I felt that day, was greater than before. I sat down by the fire and looked out of the window, Though I knew I’d never see you again. I sit here by your side, the collier’s widow crying. I look into your eyes, cold marble do I see. I talk about the time, when I saw you smiling, And I listen for your answer on the breeze. There came a muffled boom, like a cannon off Gilbralter. We all ran to the head, our loved ones there to see. But the silence and the smoke, it told a different story, And I prayed for you then my dear John. We gathered all around, wives, comrades, sons and daughters, As they pulled the bodies out, still we hoped to see, But a widow I would be and a childless mother, A husband and three sons were lost to me. I hope you died fast, I hope you died together, I hope the black damp quietly took you away. Though Seddon and the company, they never took the blame, Well they couldn’t have brought you back anyway. I guess it’s easy now, no longer do I worry, No longer do I sit, waiting for the end of day, No longer do I hear your cough or see my sons go down, But I miss you all the same my dear John.
It was greater than creation, the eighth wonder of the world, More thrilling than the bungy, sex, drugs or rock and roll. It was holier than statues, moving bogs or virgin’s tears, Sure they should have made them all saints, beatified by peers. They were stronger than Cú Chulainn, more cunning than Boru, More epic than the pyramids or the Incas in Peru. From Kruger’s down to Hennesy’s they talk about the day, When Munster beat the All Blacks back in 1978. You could have heard them shouting from Brandon to Fermoy, As thousands rallied to the cause in ecstasy and joy. Grown men were weeping and babies were renamed, When Munster beat the All Blacks back in 1978. On an autumn day at Thomond Park the people gathered round, Sure you’d think all of Munster were gathered at the ground. They quietly clapped the All Blacks as they came on so replete, And cheered like mad for the Munster lads like rabid dogs on heat. The All Blacks were the finest team that they’d ever known, All thigh and rump and hairy chest, pure testosterone. The Munster lads trained cuttin’ peat and drinking pints of stout, You could see there was a mis-match of that there was no doubt. Few stranger things have happened than on that fateful day, When Jimmy Bowen picked up the bounce and ran without delay. McKechnie couldn’t stop him and he passed it to a friend, And Christy Cantilon, he ran, and scored at Mayorstone end. When Tony Ward converted, well the crowd were set on fire, The lads were sucking diesel, the flames were getting higher. A penalty and then a goal, the red shirts battled on, The All Blacks didn’t score a point the day that Munster won. It was history in the making and we’ll never see again, A day when all of Munster cheered, both ladies and the men. To see again the lads in red like angels from the ark, Beat the gallant All Blacks down at Thomond Park. To the All Blacks I suppose, it was a small defeat, But in Munster it was legend, total and complete. And now when babies go to sleep the stories they are told, Are Finn MacCumhall and Gráinne Mhaol, Cantilon and Ward.
When Western winds come round and autumn leaves fall to the ground, I’ll hear the call of the road and I’ll know I’m somewhere bound. And I’ll head off who knows where, many miles without a care, But I’ll hold you close to my heart, till I return again. I’ll bid a fond farewell and drink your health anew, And I’ll hold you close to my heart, till I return again, Aye fond farewell. Through winter snow and hail, I’ll lean hard to the gale, Though Icy winds will cut my soul, I’ll hold fast to the trail. In the dark and dreary night, your smile will be my guiding light, And I’ll hold you close to my heart, till I return again. In the springtime of the year, when kowhai blooms with yellow tears, You’ll hear the tui’s song again, it sings I’m somewhere near. We’ll meet in warm embrace, as one in time and place, And I’ll hold you close to my heart, till I depart again.


released January 9, 2006


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Bob Bickerton Nelson, New Zealand

Bob Bickerton is based in Nelson, New Zealand and has had a long career as a music manager, sound engineer and performing artist.

His earlier albums specialised in traditional and self-penned Celtic music, but in more recent times he has collaborated with other artists as a kaiwhakatangitangi or practitioner of taonga pūoro, the traditional instruments of Māori.
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