Works in the Herald 1935

In the bad old days, the police force used batons and handcuffs to clinch its arguments with the tough young men of Woolloomooloo and Redfern. Today it is going to make friends with them, by teaching them to box, wrestle and run. - Sydney News Item.

Knockin' about (said Benny, the Tough)
   By the Rocks an' Woolloomooloo,
Oh, I was a low-brow, right enough,
   And a bit of a bounder, too.
Kickin' about with me larrikin band,
   I was always gittin' in bad;
Till the kindly cops took me in hand,
   An', lissen, I've been glad.

I was a tough when life begun,
   An' me ideels was not high --
Doin' the things that "are not done,"
   Disgracin' me old school tie.
Me feet was set on the downward road,
   A crook I was, an' a cad,
Till the genteel cops taught me a Code --
   An', lissen, I was glad.

Doin' sich things as I never had ort,
   Soilin' the family name,
With never a notion of good, clean sport
   Or the pride of playin' the game.
The dirtiest fighter in all the Rocks,
   That's the sort of name I had,
Till the manly cops taught me to box;
   An', lissen, I was glad.

Playin' the game with a good straight bat,
   Scornin' the bottle an' boot;
Turnin' meself from a wharfside rat
   To a reel nice-livin' coot.
Learnin' to battle without 'arf-bricks
   Or with pickets, as once I had --
For the good cops taught me their rastlin' tricks --
   An', lissen, I was glad.

But flesh is weak; an' I fell from grace,
   An' I goes an' I drifts right back,
An' burgled a bit of a jeweller's place;
   An' a cop gets on me track,
But I meets his rush with a good straight right,
   An' I reckon he got reel mad
To think that the cops taught me to fight.
   But, lissen, I was glad.

Then a crowd of his pals come off their beats;
   But I takes to me heels an' clears,
An' I leads 'em a marathon thro' the streets
   While they lumbers and puffs in the rear.
Then I loses 'em all when I'd had me fun,
   An' I sprints like a race-course prad.
For me cobbers the cops taught me to run,
   An', lissen, was I glad?

Herald, 10 August 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004-05