Backblock Ballads and Other Verses
Schoolmates -- me an' Billy Bates,
      Sixty year ago;
Though our schoolin' was but foolin' --
      Short an' sweet, ye know.
Workin' when we was but ten
      (Folks was poor, ye see).
Drivin' ploughs an' mindin' cows --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Shipmates -- me an' Billy Bates,
      Forty year ago;
Came out 'ere in the "Boundin' Deer,"
      Straight to Bendigo.
Made a pile in a little while --
      Struck it rich did we;
Knocked it down when we got to town --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Bedmates -- me an' Billy Bates,
      Thirty year ago; 
Shearin' sheep an' livin' cheap,
      Up on Wareko.
Nohow never 'ad a row,
      Even in a spree;
Friends we'd bin through thick an' thin --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Billy Bates an' me wus mates,
      Twenty year ago;
Then old Billy acted silly,
      Got a girl in tow.
Men thet's wed's as good as dead,
      No more use fur me;
Saw 'em started, then we parted --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Room-mates -- me an' Billy Bates --
      Come 'ere yesterday.
Wife is dead.  The life 'e led
      With 'er was cruel, they say.
Cut up rough, an' spent 'is stuff,
      Acted like a brute.
So Billy Bates an' me is mates --
      In the Destitute.

The Critic, 2 April 1898, p5.
Originally published with the title "My Mate Bates".

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-06