Hostel Strike

The Young 'uns
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The ballad of Johnny Longstaff

Lyrics taken from

The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff è un concept album preso da uno spettacolo di teatro folk che narra la storia di Johnny Longstaff, eroe della "working Class", l'avventura di un ragazzo che inizia mendicando per le strade arriva in Spagna nelle Brigate internazionali, passando per la partecipazione alle Hunger Marches e alla battaglia di Cable Street

Any Bread? - Carrying the Coffin - Hostel Strike - Cable Street - Robson’s Song - Ta-Ra to Tooting - Noddy - The Great Tomorrow - Ay Carmela - Paella - No Hay Pan - Trench Tales - Lewis Clive - David Guest - Over the Ebro - The Valley of Jarama

I wrote this whilst we were on tour with The Transports production in January 2018. I never used to be able to write whilst on tour. Most of my earlier songs were written at home with the guitar and the time and space to concentrate. More recently I’ve preferred writing on the road and this was put together and went through a week of rewrites and edits on the Transports tour bus and in a series of dressing rooms all over England. Johnny spoke at length of the stand he made against the manager and cook who took over at the Tooting YMCA whilst he was there in 1934. In this recording we don’t feature this narrative but the song follows the story accurately. However, I have embellished the tale by saying the crooks both ended up in prison! This is one of the most powerful lines in Johnny’s memoirs
Sean Cooney

It was far easier to be hungry in Stockton than it was to be hungry in London because we were all sharing the same poverty - Any Bread Mister?  
Well the cook was a crook and the manager a miser
Both were shirkers both were skirters both were bad workers and skivers
And the butties were disgusting and the soup was getting thinner 
And all we got for breakfast each was half a soggy kipper
And the sheets weren’t changed and the smell was something funny
When we worked overtime the buggers took half of our money
I was a proud young working lad but treated like a convict 
Feeling bold 15 years old I wasn’t going to stand it 
We were waiting for a better day
Now in the north we were poor but we were poor together 
But when you see the lights of London then you know you should have better
So when queueing for our bait boxes one cold and rainy morning
I said ‘stuff your bloody butties for they always taste appalling!’ 
The cook ran amuck and he flung himself towards me
He was cursing he was swearing, every dirty name he called me 
Though I didn’t know what striking was and I was no abetter 
I said ‘I’ll not go to work today till things round here are better!’ 

We were waiting for a better day, boys, waiting for a better day

So all us lads filed out the door and though the ground was sodden
For three long nights we all slept rough up out on Wandsworth Common
Till our pockets all were empty and they thought that we would give in 
But we held our nerve and our reserve and fought for our living 
Now on Trinity Road there was a little café
Where the busmen went for their tea and toast and coffee
And when they’d heard our story with us they were really taken
They yelled ‘give all these lads tea and toast and give ‘em egg and bacon!’    

We were waiting for a better day, boys, waiting for a better day

They asked us lots of questions and they heard each of our stories
They got all our facts and figures straight and laid the case before me 
Then the police came arrested me - the trouble it was starting
But the lads ran to the café and the busmen came a marching 
And the busmen spoke with splendid oratory 
While the manager and cook each told a different story
It was plain as rain they were a pair of rotten scammers
They were sacked outright without a fight and now they’re in the slammer

We were waiting for a better day, boys waiting for a better day

As the manager was hauled away he snarled and pointed at me
He said ‘There’s the bloody Bolshevik, there’s the rotten commie!’ 
Now I’d never heard of either word so I just stood there smirking
Gave a sigh and went inside just glad that I was working 
And to thank those busmen us lads were all contriving
We bought them each a tie all bright and red and shining 
Now I did not know politics a leader I was not it
But now I knew what union meant and I never forgot it

We were waiting for a better day, boys, waiting for better day
Waiting for a better day at the YMCA 

inviata da Dq82 - 19/5/2019 - 18:38

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