Works in the Bulletin 1913

He was not quite sure whether, after the deluge of legislation during the past three years - they had passed 83 bills, he believed - it would not be well to have a period of rest. However, that was not to be....Although the present circumstances might appal weak men, they were there to be faced, and the present Government would face them resolutely. (Loud cheers.) - Joe Cook at Wedderburn (Vic.)

Work?  Do yeh thnk I'm workin', mum,
   Becos I loves to slave an' toil?
D'yeh think, if I'd a tidy sum,
   Me precious 'ands I'd ever soil?
No, mum!  These 'ardships I indure,
An' mentions graft, becos I'm poor.

I took this job becos the pay Wus wot yeh might call pretty good. But, Lord, I'd loaf the livelong day Quite willin' if only I culd. But all twixt poverty an' me Is jist a one majority.
If I 'ad six or seven, say, I'd sit about an' take me ease, An' eat me fill, an' dror me pay, An' labor only should I please. But, mum, I've no alternative, I simply 'ave to graft to live.
Now, Andy, 'im 'oo 'ad this cop (A bigger fool I never see!)- 'E'd work till 'e wus fit to drop. 'Im! With 'is big majority! W'y, 'e wus rich enough to shirk. An' yet the chump 'e took on Work!
The story ain't a long one, mum, It's jist a tale of sheer 'ard luck. I seen that Andy's time 'ad come; I knoo 'is boss was bound to buck. 'E's so blimed fond er work an' such 'E's sacked becos 'e does too much.
So I steps in an' grabs 'is job, An', as me coat I slowly doffed, I reckons that I'm sure to lob On somethnk easy-like an' soft. Thinks I, "Since 'e's put so much through There won't be much fer me to do."
Ah, mum, but I wus sure mistook, Fer 'ardly 'ad I settled down Quite cosy, with a pipe an' book, When 'ere's the boss comes nosin' round'. Says 'e, "Step lively, Joe, yeh yob! If you don't work you'll lose yer job!"
'Twas all that cursed Andy's fault; 'Twas 'im begun this graftin' craze. 'E never dodged or called a halt; An' got the boss used to 'is ways. An', 'cos 'is tally's eighty-three, The boss ixpects the same frum me!"
A weak man, mum, 'e would ev gone An' dropped 'is bundle right away. But I'm a demon to 'ang on! I don't intend to lose me pay. Says I, "Now, Joseph, right or wrong, Pull up yer socks! Yeh must be strong."
Yes, mum, I'm strong an' reserloot. I got me coat off, as yeh see. I take me oath no Labor broot Is goin' to pinch this job from me. An', d'rec'ly, when I've 'ad a wink, Yeh'll see me graft like anythink!"
No, mum, I ain't done nothink, yet. Yes, it's me back mum, an' the sun. But I 'ave managed to upset A thing or two that Andy done. I'd love to wreck the whole blamed 'ouse; But, then, I know the boss 'd rouse.
Oh, yes, mum, I intend to start; Me arm's as strong as any man's. I've reely got a willin' 'eart. No, mum, I can't divulge me plans. I can't ixplain 'em, like off'and; An' p'raps you might misundertsand.
Yes, thank yeh kindly, mum. I'm sure If some day later on, maybe The job's again thrown open, you're Quite willin' fer to speak fer me. Yeh'll say as 'ow yeh 'eard em say I mean to graft reel 'ard, some day.
It's jist bad luck, mum: bad luck pure. Rough toil an' Joe they don't agree. But you will not be 'ard, I'm sure; I feels yeh symperthise with me. An', when the time comes round, I know You'll give a kirickter to Joe.

The Bulletin, 7 August 1913, p8

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004