The Ballad of the Brothers GunnTrad / John "Chick" Hayward As the old year winds down in every townThe pantomime season is nearThe casting is done, but for Alf and Jim GunnNo work ever seems to appearIn Birmingham town, at a theatre renownThe Dame has dropped dead plus her doubleThe producer’s in shock, he could be in hockWithout some replacements there’s troubleIn old London town, still knocking them downAlf and Jim Gunn shed a tearThere’s no work today, in any old wayThey’ve been resting for many a yearAgainst all the odds, these two ancient bodsFrom a Brum agent receive a cableWe’re in trouble you chaps, so get out your mapsAnd get here as quick as you’re ableMoney is short, no tickets are boughtHitching is for these two chumsSo together they hasten to Paddington BasinAnd quickly stick out their thumbsNow old Charlie Spree, an ancient bargeeTo the midlands away he was boundTen tons of manure, good stuff for sureWas his cargo this time aroundSung to the tune of "Abdul Abulbul Amir" which is an interesting song in itself. More about it can be found on the Wikipediawebsite.A similar story was discovered in the booklet 'Tales from the towpath - a canalside amble through central Manchester' written by Mike Harding and published in 1992 by the Central Manchester Development Corporation. To quote :There is a story about the apocryphal Henshawes set on one of the manure boats that plied the canals at the end of the last century. They were a famous Manchester music hall act, the Flying Henshawes, and their motto, 'A smile, a song, a balloon and a safety net' appeared on billboards all over the North. But they were the last of a vanishing race, music hall was dying and bookings were thin on the ground when one day they were offered a week at Warrington Alhambra playing second on the bill to Enrico and his Whistling Ferrets. They were offered £20 for the week. They looked at the letter of offer glumly. Return fares to Warrington were ten shillings each, so with four of them that meant £2. Digs would be £3 each for the week - that only left £6 profit for a week's work.Albert Henshawe had an idea.'Fred Carter goes to Warrington from Ancoats Locks every week with a load of manure for the market gardens in Cheshire. We can get a lift with him for the price of his ale.'So the next week the Four Fying Henshawes boarded the good barge ‘The Roaring Mouse’ at Ancoats Locks and set off on their journey west. It was a hot summer's day and the cargo was nice and fresh so all four Henshawes sat on the pointed end upwind of the load.At the first lock the lock-keeper shouted 'Ho bargee what load?''Eighty tons of manure and the Four Four Flying Henshawes,' was the reply.At the next lock the same cry rang between the dank walls of the warehouses. 'Ho bargee what load?''Eighty tons of manure and the Four Four Flying Henshawes,' again was the reply.As they approached the third lock the eldest of the Henshawes, who had some pride in his calling, stepped to the stern and asked the bargee quietly, 'Mr Carter, do you think at the next lock we could possibly have top billing?'Clearly these two tales have much in common and it would be interesting to find out if either of them have any basis in fact. The songwriter John "Chick" Hayward was a member of the band DPN+1 who made the recording.Recorded on :
On seeing the thumbs, to a halt Charlie comesAnd offers the brothers a rideTo Birmingham town, the boat is now boundWith the brothers and horse shit insideThe first lock is near but what’s this they hearThe lock-keeper’s asked questions one‘What have you inside?’ The bargee repliedHorse shit and the brothers GunnAt locks two and three they would hear the same plea‘What cargo have you got inside?’‘Ten tons of dung and the two brothers GunnAnd various items beside’So the brothers agree to ask Charlie SpreeTo find out if he would be willingWhen Tom, Dick or Harry asks ‘What do you carry?’If they could please take the top billing.
[D]As the [A]old year winds down in [D]every [D7]townThe [G]pantomime season is [D]nearThe [A]casting is done, but for [D]Alf and Jim [G]GunnNo [D]work ever [A]seems to ap[D]pear