Article MT009

Stand up, Speak out, Shut up, Sit down.

Freddy McKay speaks out ...


London is justifiably famous for its tradition of fine Irish musicians and singers.  Jimmy Power, Margaret Barry, Lucy Farr, Michael Gorman, Packie Byrne and dozens more have made the city their home, often permanently, over the years.  To this list must be added the name of Freddy McKay, an artist whose presence and command of his material - comic songs, monologues and ballads - are both respected and admired, not only by his fellow countrymen, but by all who hear him.

On 2nd February, 1985 we visited Freddy at his Kilburn home.  Between 7.00 p.m. and 1.00 a.m. the next morning we conducted what was easily the most enjoyable and easy interview imaginable, and from it is drawn this article.  It is told entirely in Freddy's own words and only the order of the sections has been altered for it to run in a logical time sequence.


'Now, I was born just on the outskirts of Belfast, 1914, in a little townland called Ballyaghan, near the Cave Hill.  It is said that it used to be a hideout for a family of highwaymen - well I don't know about that - nowadays it's very respectable, a bit like Golders Green, very fashionable.  Well my father was an Antrim man, but my mother was a Belfast woman, most definitely, as Belfast as the town clock.  Her maiden name was Elliott, Josephine Elliott, and her mother came originally from Wexford.  She, I know, was greatly interested in poetry and song, she had a very good education for her day, and my mother got a lot of songs off her.

Now my mother had a lot of songs, oh a terrible lot of songs, but she only knew bits of them, you see, they weren't complete.  There was one little thing I remember she'd sing, it went:

And we'll lay down together
In a forty foot feather
And the cow fell a-hugging the piper.
Well, I thought there was no sense to it, but years and years later I found that it was in O'Loughlainn's collection.  Oh she had a lot of songs she'd sing ...  The Jolly Tinker was another - 'course, I was just a kid, I couldn't work it out.
He picked up the warming pan
And he began to knock
To let the servants know, me boys
He was busy at his work.
Well, I didn't know what the hell it was all about! I was only a kid.

Now that time of day most kids started school when they were five, four-and-a-half or five, but I didn't go until I was six.  It wasn't that I suffered from any infectious ailment or anything, no, I later found out that my mother, at that time, didn't have the wherewithal to make me presentable, you might say, but I never held it against her.  In fact I'd have been better off starting at thirteen I reckon, 'cos all I learnt was a load of bloody rubbish when I went anyway!  It didn't really matter because by the time I started, my sister had taught me to read and do simple sums.  She had the school reading book and she taught me out of that "Jack has got a cart and can draw sand and clay in it".  So I knew all about the transport business by the time I started school!  Anyway the classes weren't big - there were only five boys and three girls - and me and my two mates, we left school on the same day, fourteen we were.  Well one of them, the dunce, he became a businessman, the smart one ended up in the nick and I got by.  So I don't think schooling had a terrible lot to do with anything!

Now my brothers, you see, had the paper trade in our community.  You know selling the newspapers.  There were three papers at that time - The Newsletter, The Northern Whig and The Irish News and I went into the business when I left school.  I'd heard that all millionaires started off in life selling newspapers so I thought this was great.  Well anyway there was one little man I delivered to, he'd be there every morning waiting for his Whig and one day he said to me, "Are you left school?".  I said, "Yes", and he says, "How would like to be an apprentice coach trimmer?  Go and ask your parents".

Well my mother said, "Go and wash your face and smarten yourself up and go and tell him that you want to be a coach trimmer".  She didn't even know what a coach trimmer was, neither did I for that matter, but I started Monday and that became my trade.

Now growing up where we lived, just outside Belfast, I suppose you could say we had the best of both worlds.  On one hand you had the countryside - oh! you could walk or bike for miles in the hills - I was very keen on biking, and on the other, only a bus ride away there were all the advantages of an industrialised city - the music-halls, dances, cinemas and so on.  Now where I did most of my singing was at house parties.  You see Belfast, when I was growing up, was full of bands.  Every other street had a band of some sort - a flute band or a kitty band [a pipe band] and of course it costs money to run them, even a flute band you need money for the instruments, the flutes and the side drum and bass drum.  Well this was in the early Thirties in the depths of the Depression so there wasn't much money about.  So what they'd do they'd have these house parties in the band room and the women would make sandwiches and buns and that sort of thing, and I'll tell you what you paid, you had to pay a shilling to get in.  You see it was all done by word of mouth - you'd meet someone and he'd say, "There's a do in the kitty band room this Saturday" - "Oh aye, I'll be there".  Course I would go along looking for girls and there was one area in Belfast known as Tigers Bay, it was between Duncairn Gardens and the Lime Stone Road and they had three bands - two flute and one kitty - and oh they'd always be having parties - if one wasn't, one of the others would, and I used to go there a lot.  It was of course a very Loyalist area, oh my, yes.  No Rebel songs there - no!  I suppose that in all my times travelling round Belfast I slipped up a couple of times and was threatened, but nothing came of it.

But you see the songs I had, those from my mother were mainly the serious ballads like The Three Flowers, and they were the ones I liked the best, but nobody wanted to hear them at house parties so the only way I found I could go down was by playing the funny man.  So most of what I did was the comic songs and parodies, but I would always try to slip in a serious ballad at some stage of the proceedings - like Skibbereen.  I first heard this chap sing it at a party.  I had to hunt round for the words and I finally got them.  That used to go down well - but only in Nationalist areas of course!

Now I used to go to the music-hall in Belfast, oh twice during the week - the Belfast Empire and the Hippodrome, never on a Saturday though, if I wasn't racing my bike I'd be at a party.  But a man who impressed me greatly was a music-hall artist, Billy Bennett.  Now the first time I saw the man he was top of the bill, well I'd never heard of him, I didn't follow reviews or such like but anyway he was top of the bill.  So I went on the Monday night and this man came out, big man with a painted-on black moustache, evening dress, hobnail boots and a muffler, and he came out - deadpan face - well he didn't dance, didn't sing - well, he had a little bit of a song:

Oh Nelly doesn't live here anymore
She hasn't lived since 1924
She made a Christmas pudding
It would have been all right no doubt
But she made it in the kettle
and we couldn't get it out
So we had to take a turn about
and suck it through the spout
Oh Nelly doesn't live here anymore.
Now that's all he had that resembled a song, just monologues but, oh he was terrific - he brought the house down and I was impressed and when I came away I thought, "What the hell has the man got?".  I couldn't see how a man could come out and do this - no support at all - and bring the house down, and it puzzled me so I said, "Jees, I'm gonna find out".  So I went back again on the Thursday, on my own, no distractions, sitting in the second row of the gods and I just watched every move he made, and by the time he went off then I knew what it was.  Yes, it was his terrific mock sincerity, how he could come off with the most ridiculous rubbish with such sincerity, that was the man's gift.  Well I never missed seeing Bennett again, whenever I got the chance, in Belfast and Dublin.

So I decided I would do Bennett's stuff found out that some of his monologues were published by Paxton at 1/- each which was expensive, but got them from there.  I never heard his records - didn't know he'd made any until Peta gave me a copy of his LP 1.   And within a week of the publication of this article, Topic released a new CD of the great Billy Bennett - 'Almost A Gentleman' - their old vinyl LP plus five extra tracks - Topic TSCD780.  A classic, which is available from MT's Records Page.1 a few years back.  Well I didn't try to copy Bennett's style - that would have been daft - Bennett was a great big man and I'm just a little man, but I developed a style of my own.  And of course in noisy pubs I had to go very strong, and belt it out as though you really mean it, no matter how silly it is, you can usually get through.

I remember one pub I used to use in Princes Street that had a pianist - he was the only man who got paid - no-one else - and I never put my head round the door but he didn't call me up.  That was a noisy pub and there was another in Donegal Quay, you really had to belt it out there.  But you know, I always used to like to do one serious number among all this comic stuff, but it took me a long while get my courage up to do it.  Now I had a mate Belfast, Jack Lascelles, he was a photographer by profession, but he was awfully keen on the theatre and he wasn't a bad actor and I thought he was great speaker.  Well I said to Jack "Now what's your secret? What does it take to be a great orator?".  Jack says, "Oh it's nothing at all, nothing to it - stand up, speak out, shut up, sit down".  Well that's maybe all very well, but doesn't actually teach you very much!

Well anyway round about the War years the was a pub in Gresham Street in Belfast and it seemed to attract a lot of Yanks, mainly American officers, I don't know why, and Jack started to put on this little show in the bar and it attracted a good crowd.  So I got the job working with him as stooge - you know, like he was the straight man - and the Yanks lapped it up.  And we used to do a mind reading act, oh yes - thought transference.  He had this little blackboard and he'd give it to someone in the audience and ask them to give him four digits, and then he'd ask another for four and rush them along, and then another, and soon he had the blackboard full of bloody numbers and nobody knew, where they were.  Anyway he'd get someone to add them all up, and then add up all the answers, and it would come to say thirty-six - well like the were only a few numbers it could come to.  "Right, will you turn to Page 36 in the telephone directory and look at the thirty-sixth subscriber down - you madam, yes you - give him a hand".  Well I'd be standing there blindfolded, (didn't make any bloody difference if I was or not!) but he'd say, "Now, I want you both to concentrate on that subscriber's name and number - concentrate very deeply.  Now I'll ask the Memory Man to tell you what it is.  Well I knew what it was, but I'd give the one before or the one after.  "Is that correct?".  There'd be a hush and they'd say, "No".  "Will you two people concentrate again", and then I'd give them the correct one and he'd say, "Will you people please tell the audience whether the first one was near, and they would say it was the one before - "Ah, you were letting your thoughts wander".  And they fell for it, yes.  They'd be showing the book around.  "Oh yes, it's the one above, oh really, yes that's it".  Load of rubbish.

But he was a good orator, I've seen him do thirty stanzas of The Ballad of Reading Gaol in the pub and he really was good and he'd get me to do the Bennett stuff, but I got it into my head one night to do Lincoln's Address at Gettysburg, and the Yanks lapped it up.  Oh yes.  "Never heard it done so well before", they'd say - some had probably never heard it done before! Jack wasn't impressed though - he wanted to be the straight man.  But I never had any lessons on elocution, bloody good job too, I wouldn't get away with half the things I do, but I was always impressed by orators, and good speakers, especially evangelists.  I'm not religious, but some of these men were very good, very clever - mind they had as many tricks as Jack and I had at the mind-reading.

One man in particular, a preacher in Northern Ireland by the name of Nicholson, a line man, not ordained so he wouldn't preach from the pulpit but from the congregation.  Well what a showman, he was very popular and he'd do it all by insulting his audience - "You're all going to Hell", he'd bawl, but he was dynamic.  But the man that disappointed me most was Billy Graham - me and my mate saw him at Harringay Stadium, it was sold out, but we got in through an emergency exit.  And it was a terrific presentation, oh yes, hundreds in the choir and Billy Graham, a big fellow, best dressed man there with a bible in his hand but he didn't move me in the slightest.  I'm not talking about faith, but the way he put the stuff over.  He d say, "I was a poor boy in Oregon, working in a sawmill and a great Iight came down and the voice of the Lord said "Leave this place and go forth", and I have left it, and I am never going back".  I thought, "No bloody wonder, mate - this is a better bet than a sawmill any day!"

Now when I grew up in Belfast in the Thirties there was no Irish music, no traditional music at all hardly.  It wasn't until the tourist boom, in the Fifties, that it became fashionable to listen to Irish ballads, but before that nobody wanted to know.  And when I went to Dublin in 1935, my work took one there for a while, it was even worse, folk song was at a very low ebb.  Like in Belfast there were the pubs and house parties where you could push these songs but in Dublin, when I was there, they were all mad about Bing Crosby, yes It was my opinion that the Dublin population were the greatest cinema-goers in the world.  I'd never seen so many cinemas in my life and there were queues at every one of them and everyone was aping the Americans.  Apart from the odd Rebel song, there was nothing resembling folk music at all.

Now if you read the autobiography of James Galway you'll read in it: "My first teacher was 'Wee Dickie'.  Well 'Wee Dickie' was my brother.  He was very friendly with James Galway's father, an accordeon player and his mother, she played the piano - a great trouper.  Well my brother bought James and his brother their first whistles and started them off, you know.  But I don't think Wee Dickie would have claimed responsibility for the genius of James Galway, the world's greatest flautist - in my opinion.  Now Wee Dickie, he'd started off in a flute band when he was young and worked his way up to playing piccolo with the Belfast Military Band and during the War he came over to London to live.  Now just after the War I moved over to Bradford, with my job, but it didn't work out, so I came down to London and met up with my brother.

Well by this time he was running his own dance band; Irish band in London.  He played at The Bamba in Kilburn, oh for years, very popular.  Now I'll tell you, there was more Irish dancing being taught and done in London at that time than in the whole of Ireland - this is before the Folk Revival.  Well, I remember one St.  Patrick's Night, my brother had a dance to do when someone asked him to do another one - two in the same night.  So I said, "Why don't you put a band in each one of them?".  So he ran around and he got two bands together but he was stuck for a drummer for one of them.  So he saw this mate of his, 'Little Billy', lives in Kilburn, he wasn't a bad drummer, and explained what he wanted and Little Billy said he'd do it if someone would give a hand with his drum kit.  you see there were no bloody cars then, petrol was still on ration - you had to be a dentist or a doctor to get a car.  Anyway I got volunteered to give him a hand, so I went round and carried the bass drum, we went on the Tube - I don't know how these heavy metal bands get on nowadays with their gear but we managed it all right.

Now this dance was at the Irish Club in Eaton Square (SW1).  Well they weren't your 'McAlpine's Fusiliers', oh no, they were a very refined crowd - all bank clerks and so on, gentlemen in white gloves and women in evening dress with great lumps of shamrock in their coats, and it was all right.  Pearce Quinn on accordeon struck up The Siege of Ennis and oh, it went very well - nothing to do with me, I only had to get the bass drum home.  Anyway half-way through this bloke comes up and says to Pearce Quinn, "Do any of you chappies do a vocal number?"  So I got volunteered again and he called me up and announced that I would do a song.  Well when I looked down at this assembly, evening dress, white gloves, I thought, "What the hell am I going to do here?".  So anyway I gave them Nell Flaherty's Drake and it seemed to go quite well and at the end people came up and said, "Oh I say, my dear old grandmother used to sing that song".  I thought, "Oh yes, I'm sure!" but anyway it was different and people liked it so I did it regularly with my brother's band - Nell Flaherty's Drake, Slattery's Mounted Foot, The Stone Outside Dan Murphy's Door - all of them seemed to be some granny or other's songs.

Well you see at this time I started to use the pubs, quite naturally, around Kilburn and Camden Town and there was of course a lot of Irish music being played there then, as you know.  And I sort of got caught up in it.  Margaret Barry was very popular round Camden Town, but now I first met Margaret in the Thirties in Ireland.  I was out on my bike cycling to Dublin and she had her banjo on her back and she was biking to Blackrock where they always had a do on a Sunday - always attracted a lot of people down from the North, they could get a drink there on a Sunday you see, and I saw Margaret there several times playing on the street corner for a crowd.  Well when I saw Margaret in London in the Fifties she was working with Michael Gorman, the fiddle player and he was great - oh yes - and me and him became great friends - a nice man.

Another chap I knocked about with was Packie Byrne.  I first heard Packie sing at Cecil Sharp House of all places and he was like me, the Folk Revival had caught up with him.  f&franc.jpg - 19.5 K Now the McPeakes - I had known of the McPeakes when I was in Belfast.  I'd heard of them but you see old man McPeake was teetotal, didn't drink a drop and consequently was never in the pubs whereas all my associations were in the pubs so I never got to hear him play that much but they were well known.  The old man was the first piper who sang while he played - I don't know why no-one else had done it but his son, Francie, who I was speaking to earlier, (Francie McPeake had telephoned from Belfast earlier that night to discuss the forthcoming National Folk Festival at Loughborough) me and him also became great mates and I thought he was a wonderful piper.  And another place was of course the Favourite, I never stuck my head round the door but Jimmy Power wouldn't call me up to sing.

Well one day, 1951 it was, I'm sitting at home and a knock comes to my door and there's this chap there and he says, "Mr.  McKay?", I said, "Yes".  "I believe you sing folk songs?'.  I said, "Well I sing a few old songs, whether they're folk songs or not, I couldn't tell you".  Anyway he says, "Do you know any Rebel songs?", so I thought no point in singing "Kevin Barry" or anything like that, everybody knows that, so I started:

It hung above the kitchen shelf
Its barrel long and brown
and one day with a boy's desire
I climbed and took it down
Mg father's eyes with anger flashed
He said, 'What have you done?
You should have left it where it was
That 's my old Fenian Gun.
Well I sang it right through, he'd never heard it, and blow me he'd taken down the tune on a piece of manuscript paper while I was singing.  I'd never seen anything like it in my life.  Anyhow his name was John Hasted, I later found out that he was one of the pioneers of the Folk Revival in this country.  Well he said there was some do on at the Dublin Castle (Camden Town) with Dominic Behan, so I went along and sang a few and that's how I got caught up in the Folk Revival.  I wasn't particularly anxious to get involved at first but there was a lot of songs, good songs coming out and I was impressed.  It was the early days of CND and they had songs out and I thought this was great that people were writing songs about things that were really happening and I got introduced to the songs of Woody Guthrie and I thought this was marvellous.  I was impressed by Joe Hill and by The Digger's Song by Leon Rosselson, and when I found out that people were really taking this thing seriously I dug out all the old Rebel songs and the big ballads like Three Flowers and Skibbereen and it seemed to go from there.

Now about this time, maybe a bit earlier, 1947 I think, I got introduced through my brother to someone who was running the Irish Theatre Group in London and they were going to put on this play O'Casey's The Shadow of a Gunman.  Well I was approached to play the part of Grigson, he was the Loyalist in the play and he gets to sing The Orange Lily - it's not a very good song.  As a matter of fact I wanted them to change it to The Sash but they wouldn't let me.  Grigson, you see, is a little man with a big head - a bombastic sort of fellow so I guess they thought I'd be all right!

Anyhow they put it on at the Unity Theatre and at the end this bloke came up and asked me if I acted with any other company.  I said, "No", and he said, "Why don't you come and join Unity?".  His name was Alfie Bass, and so I did, and Unity was very political and so I got my Trade Union branch to affiliate with them.  I was the shop steward you see where I was working, oh yes.  In fact I was shop steward in every job I was in - I even got a medal for it - for forty-five years of unbroken service to the Union.  Anyway as time went on I found out that Unity ran its own Folk Club and so naturally I got involved in that.  I will say that it did get a measure of success that it didn't really deserve because the guy running it put nothing into it and they wouldn't pay anyone for performing.  I was the first one to get anyone along who got paid.  I brought Margaret Barry along and I got the collection up and it all went to Margaret and by Jesus, I can tell you, I can bottle when I want!

But as I say, I got caught up in this Folk Club scene - I sang in the Singers Club when it was at the Pindar of Wakefield in Grays Inn Road.  And I sang at the Troubadour, that was OK if you could stand the smoke, and the Enterprise and Peanuts, in Bishopsgate and then the Fox in Islington.  When Bob Davenport ran it I was resident at the Fox for a few years in the Sixties.

Now this thing about monologues - that was entirely accidental I can tell you.  I was singing down the Fox one night and a crowd of youngsters came in and they were wanting to start their own Folk Club in a pub down at Highbury Corner.  Well we all promised to go along and start them off Jackie O'Connor, Bob Davenport, Ernie Groome and myself.  Well the day came, there was quite a good audience, these young people had invited all their parents, aunties and uncles and so on.  Well I wasn't in very good form - I had a bad throat or something - anyway they got me up and they seemed to like it OK but I was drying up.  Well all these other people, Bob and Ernie, they hadn't turned up you see so at was a bit of a solo performance.  So I thought, "What the hell am I going to do to keep this thing going?".  So I said, "I'm going to do something I've never done in a Folk Club before.  I used to do this in the pubs round Belfast.  It is a monologue entitled The Sailor's Farewell to his Horse, or The Wreck of The Hesperus, and I started off:

It was a dirty night, it was a dirty trick
When the boat turned over in the Atlantic.

'Twas on the Schooner Hesperus
When we all lay asleep in our bunks
Bound for a cruise, where they don't have reviews
With a cargo of elephants trunks.

The sea was as smooth as a baby's top lip
Not even a policeman in sight
And the little sardines had got into their tins
And pulled down the lid for the night.

...  and everyone was in stitches, it was going really good, when in the middle of it, in walks Bob Davenport and all the other disciples who should have been there earlier in the night.  Well Bob laughed his leg off and says, "You'll have to do it at the Fox".  Well I thought I couldn't do that there.  I mean it wasn't a purist club as such - not like the Singers Club - but I didn't know if it would work there.  Anyhow next week at the Fox, Bob says, "Freddy, you must do The Sailor's Farewell.  Well I didn't - I did Nell:
Nell was a diver's daughter
He used to dove under the ships
He walked on the bed of the ocean
And he trod on the fish and the chips.
...  and once again everyone seemed to like it.  So I can safely say I introduced monologues into the Folk Clubs - I extended them a lease of life anyway.  If anyone had told me fifty years ago in Belfast that in 1985 I would be in London singing these old songs - and getting paid for it - I would have said they were absolutely mad! 2.   Freddy McKay's cassette 'Freddy McKay Live!' Musical Traditions MTCass 200 is still available, price 5.50 inc p&p - contact Keith Summers at 49 Crossfield Road, Southend  SS2 4LS, Tel: 01702 618136.2

Anyway, it wasn't long, of course, before I started searching round for more material, A mate of mine, John Foreman, he was working the Folk Clubs in the North, and a chap came up to him and said, "You come from London, do you know the 'Little Sardines' man?".  Well John said "You must mean McKay", so this bloke gave him a little book of his stuff to give to me that he'd written under the name of J B Jacques and that's where I found Adam and Eve and Samson and Delicious - though I've added various bits myself.  Now I understand that he's now a licensee in Liverpool but I've never been able to get in touch with him.

Now another man whose work impressed me greatly was a fellow by the name of James Young.  He was going very good in Belfast in the late fifties and the Sixties, but I never saw him work, I was over here at the time.  Now Young was a product of the Group Theatre in Belfast and I believe he was in the Guinness Book of Records for consecutive one man shows.  I was greatly impressed by the way he handled his material, stuff on Belfast it was, without taking sides.  He was very clever, he could sort of work off both sides and stay out of trouble - and that appealed to me.  So that's why I do St Patrick's Return, that's one of Young's.  It doesn't take sides you see, it criticises the whole bloody lot!  The Bravest Man, that was another one of Young's, I don't know if he wrote it, but it was based on Dangerous Dan McGrew, which I got off of Bennett.

In the same sort of vein, that's why I link up The Old Orange Flute, that's traditional from my Belfast days:

So at the council of priests that was held the next day
'Twas decided to banish the old flute away
They couldn't knock heresy out of its head
So they bought Bob a new one to play in its stead.

And they took the old flute and its fate was pathetic
'Twas branded and burned at the stake as heretic
As the flames rolled around it they heard a sweet noise
'Twas the old flute still whistling 'The Protestant Boys'.

...  and The Fenian Record Player - you see they both tell the same story from opposite sides.  The Record Player was, I believe, written by a man called Crawford Hughes in Belfast and I got the words from my brother Dickie and he got them from James McPeake.  James used to use the tune The Yellow Rose of Texas but I changed it round a bit and put it to The Wearing of The Green:
He chose a stack of records of a very Loyal kind
But when the music started, why he nearly lost his mind.
For that Fenian Record Player was a Rebel to the core
It played such tunes as an orange-hall had never heard before
For 'Dolly's Brae' and 'Derry's Walls' it didn't give a fig
And it speeded up "God Save the Queen, 'til it sounded like a jig.
But you see, if you do The Flute and The Record Player together you're not making any judgement for one side or the other.  You see I can do that - I have no faith.  My politics? Well I'll tell you - I was one of the very few members of the Communist Party in Ireland.  Lots of Irish Communists in England nowadays of course but I was one of the very few to be a member in Ireland.

If I had to sum up my beliefs and wishes, well I think James Young put it best - this is one serious one I like to slip in now and then:

We're Here For Such a Little While

We're here for such a little while
So much to see and do
In a land that's full of splendid things
Where there's always something new

There's a wee white cottage glowing
In the warmth of summer days
And the drystone walls our fathers built
Climb endless up the brae

There's the secret hills of Sperrin
Where the trout rise in the burn
There is Armagh's Maytime blossom
And the wooded shores of Erne

And there's the kindly folk to crack with
As we pass the time of day
And the sound of ancient lilting songs
Of children at their play

There's the warm and friendly neighbour
With the quick and helping hand
And the ties of blood and kinship
And the friend that understands

Oh we had the finest country
And the warmest kindliest folks
But events have turned these truths into
A sad and bitter joke

For an evil spell has fallen
Like a black blight on our land
Turning neighbour against neighbour
Where each one takes a bitter stand

And the beauty unregarded
Is marred by smoke and flame
And everyone will tell you
That the other is to blame

But we all could end this nightmare
If we would open hearts and eyes
We could end the black clouds flying
And bring back the sunlit skies

Let us hope for wit and friendliness
Before it is too late
For we're here for such a little while
And there's just no time to hate.

Keith Summers and Peta Webb - 15.8.97

Notes:

(1)   And within a week of the publication of this article, Topic released a new CD of the great Billy Bennett - Almost A Gentleman - their old vinyl LP plus five extra tracks - Topic TSCD780.  A classic, which is available from MT's Records Page.

(2)   Freddy McKay's cassette Freddy McKay Live! Musical Traditions MTCass 200 is still available, price 5.50 inc p&p - contact Keith Summers at 49 Crossfield Road, Southend SS2 4LS, Tel: 01702 618136.

Article MT009

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