Navvy on the Line


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I am a navvy bold, that's tramped the country round, sir,
To get a job of work, where any can be found, sir.
I left my native home, my friends and my relations,
To ramble up and down and work in various stations.

I'm a navvy don't you see, I'm a navvy in my prime;
I'm a nipper, I'm a tipper and I'm working on the line.

I left my native home on the first day of September,
That memorable day I still do remember.
I bundled up my kit, Sunday smock and cap put on, sir,
And wherever I do go, folks call me happy Jack, sir.

I've got a job of work in the lovely town of Bury*,
And working on the line is a thing that makes me merry.
I can use my pick and spade, likewise my old wheelbarrow;
I can court the lasses, too, but I don't intend to marry.

I worked a fortnight there, and then it come to pay-day,
And when I got my wages, I thought I'd have a play-day.
And then a little spree in High* Street went quite handy,
Then sat me down in Jenkinson's beside a Fanny Brandy.

I called for a pint of beer, and bid the old wench drink, sir,
But whilst she was a-drinking, she too at me did wink, sir.
Well, then we had some talk; in the back we had a rally;
Then jumped o'er brush and steel and agreed we'd both live tally.

They called for liquors freely, the jug went quickly round, sir
That being my wedding day, I spent full many a crown, sir.
And when my brass was done, old Fanny went a-cadging,
And to finish up my spree, I went and sloped my lodgings.

Oh now I'm going to leave the lovely town of Bury;
I'm sorry for to leave you chaps, for I always found you merry.
So call for liquors freely, and drink away my dandy,
Here's a health to happy Jack, likewise to Fanny Brandy.

* The original leaves a blank for the town and street names, presumably to allow the singer to set the song in his own locality.

From 'A Touch on the Times'. Edited by Roy Palmer.

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