Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Night Music - The Testimony of Patience Kershaw

 Charming though the Unthanks version is, I always feel that Gary and Vera Aspey get closer to the heart of this moving Frank Higgins song. From their 1974 LP Seeing Double, which I believe is no longer available - correct me if I'm wrong.



As the reproletarianisation of Britain continues, and the life-pattern of our children starts to move towards that of their great-grandparents (a low wage, rent all your life, a few years of retirement on a small pension before death - with the added tweak that they'll be surrounded by strangers who owe them no loyalty or solidarity), they'll be learning the lessons all over again - the lessons their great grandparents knew but their parents forgot.  The song was inspired by 17 year old Patience Kershaw's testimony to Lord Ashley's Mines Commission of 1842. The Mines Act of 1842 that resulted prohibited the employment in the mines of all women and of boys under thirteen.         It's good of you to ask me, Sir, to tell you how I spend the day  It's in a coal black tunnel, Sir, I hurry corves to earn my pay.  The corves are full of coal, kind Sir, I push them with my hands and head.  It isn't lady-like, but Sir, you've got to earn your daily bread.   I push them with my hands and head, and so my hair gets worn away.  You see this baldy patch I've got, it shames me like I just can't say.  A lady's hands are lily white, but mine are full of cuts and segs.  And since I'm pushing all the day, I've great big muscles on my legs.  I try to be respectable, but Sir, the shame, God save my soul.  I work with naked, sweating men, who curse and swear and hew the coal.  The sights, the sounds, the smells, kind Sir, not even God could sense my shame.  I say my prayers, but what's the use? Tomorrow will be just the same.   Now, sometimes, Sir, I don't feel well, my stomach's sick, my head it aches.  I've got to hurry best I can. My knees feel weak, my back near breaks  And then I'm slow, and then I'm scared these naked men will batter me.  They can't be blamed, for if I'm slow, their families will starve, you see.  All the boys, they laugh at me, and Sir, the mirror tells me why.  Pale and dirty can't look nice. It doesn't matter how I try.  Great big muscles on my legs, a baldy patch upon my head.  A lady, Sir? Oh, no, not me. I should have been a boy instead.   I praise your good intentions, Sir, I love your kind and gentle heart  But now it's 1842, and you and I, we're miles apart.  A hundred years and more will pass before we're standing side by side  But please accept my grateful thanks. God bless you Sir, at least you tried.
"Over the centuries, laissez-faire argumentation for low wages has shifted from insisting upon the iron necessity of child labor to the wonderfulness of open borders. But the combination of monetary interest driving intellectual arguments remains very similar." - Steve Sailer.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

they'll be learning the lessons all over again - the lessons their great grandparents knew but their parents forgot.

Ah but with a catch. If we do speak out we are evil nazis.

Wyrdtimes said...

Good post. Not heard the song before, very moving. Have to say I prefer the Aspey's version too.

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