A teller of tales

by Karl Dallas

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released August 25, 2012

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Track Name: The Chartists
O’Connor, the bastard!
Called himself a radical
but once a squireen, always a squireen.
Ready to rat on us, who put him up there,
us, foolish enough to trust him, gave him authority over us,
him and his fourpence-ha’penny rag.
They say he sold over thirty-two thousand copies of his newspaper,
and these were passed round from hand to hand in alehouses and mechanics' institutes
so the readership was easily ten or twenty times higher than that.
All that power!
And when push came to shove,
he walked away,
took the People’s Charter with him
into the dustbin of history.
He died in bedlam. Serve him right.
Hope he rots in hell.
. . .
Millions signed up to the Charter.
When it was rejected in Parliament
by 287 votes to 49
it was over six miles long
and bore the names
of 3,317,702 of the disenfranchised.
Feargus O'Connor's newspaper, the Northern Star,
put it at 4,800,000 names
(in a country of 19 million men, women and children)
but was lukewarm to the call for a general strike.

We struck anyway.
We marched from town to town
knocking out the boiler plugs
in the factories which would not join us.
Three thousand drilled in Wilsden,
under a black flag.
In Bradford we beat the police in a straight fight.
Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, the Potteries, Warwickshire, Wales.
Workers as far north as Aberdeen
were about to join
when the Northern Star denounced the strike
as a government provocation:
fifteen hundred strikers were arrested
and 79 of them transported to Australia.
Bastard!

We began to realise that
as long as we relied upon people like the Irish squireen, O’Connor,
we would never regain control of our own lives:
out of that realisation, the Labour Party was born.

But that is another story.
Track Name: Joseph was a wanderer
Joseph was a wanderer
His wife Mary also
They had no place to lay their heads
Wherever they did go
The innkeepers rejected them
When they came to town
They found a lowly stable
To lay their baby down.

Travelling people have no homes
Travelling people are skin and bones
Travelling people are forced to flee
Travelling people are the enemy.

When Mary had her baby
Three kings came from the east
They laid their gifts before him
Like guests come to a feast.
But Herod he was jealous
And he sent his soldiers there
To ethnic cleanse the city
And he filled their hearts with fear.

Travelling people have got to go
Travelling people go to and fro
Travelling people must escape
Travelling people flee their fate

Jesus was a wanderer
His followers also
He preached good news to all the poor
Wherever he did go.
But the high priests and the soldiers
Wouldn't hear his words
And they nailed him to a cross
Like carrion for the birds.

Travelling people like you and me
Travelling people for eternity
Travelling people on a weary way
Travelling on to the present day.

The wanderers came to this land
To find a place to rest
They were penned behind barbed wire
Not treated like a guest.
They said we want to work here
We want to pay our way
But nobody would hear them
Whatever they did say.

Travelling people from many lands
Travelling people with skilful hands
Travelling people in jails confined
Travelling people are human kind

If you do not go when we tell you to
The minister did say
We'll break your families up
And take your kids away
I am not like King Herod
Putting children to the sword
But the travellers cried in anguish
When they heard his bitter words.

Travelling people got a right to live
Travelling people got a lot to give
Travelling people got no home
Travelling people want to settle down.

December 6, 2003
Track Name: Shelley: From The Masque of Anarchy
What is Freedom? - ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well -
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.

'Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants' use to dwell,

So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.

'Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak, -
They are dying whilst I speak.

'Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye;

'Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
Take from Toil a thousandfold
More that e'er its substance could
In the tyrannies of old.

Paper coin - that forgery
Of the title-deeds, which ye
Hold to something of the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.

'Tis to be a slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.

And at length when ye complain
With a murmur weak and vain
'Tis to see the Tyrant's crew
Ride over your wives and you -
Blood is on the grass like dew.

Then it is to feel revenge
Fiercely thirsting to exchange
Blood for blood - and wrong for wrong -
Do not thus when ye are strong.

Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold -

Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free -

And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again - again - again -

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'

Written on the occasion of the massacre carried out by the British Government at Peterloo, Manchester 1819
Track Name: Far from Sinai
You came down from the mountains
With the tablets in your hand,
And you told us what you thought you’d heard
Up there where you’d been higher than any bird.
And we tried to understand
When you led us from that land,
Following your inner light into the desert sand.

You led us through the wilderness
Where there was no path or road
And we trusted in your vision and
Believed you’d help us find the promised land.
And we tried to keep your code;
But the sun is sinking low.
It’s too late to reap the seeds we should have sowed.
Where are you Moses now the light’s gone out?
’Cos you said we need a leader
But suddenly it seems you’ve lost your way
And you don’t know what to say
And we’ve got to find our way back home alone.

The dark is falling silent
In the sudden desert night
And the cold is striking deep and fast.
We’re feeling blind and lonely now, and lost.
So we ask you for a light
Or a beacon high and bright
And we listen as mosquitoes sing and bite.

But you give us no reply.
It’s like you vanished clean away
And climbed again your mountain peak
Once more your godsent certainty to seek.
We survived until the day.
We found where your body lay
And none of us could find a prayer to pray.
Where were you Moses when the light went out?
Perhaps we didn’t need a leader
’Cos suddenly it seems you’ve lost your way
And you’ve nothing left to say.
Now we’re going to find our way back home alone.

Going to make it on our own.
September 6, 1971
Track Name: Old Ned Ludd
Old Ned Ludd
Hammer in his hand
No one’s seen his face
But they know he’s a working man
Like you and me,
like you and me.

Our ways are worth preserving
From the fact’ries’ noise and grime
We ought to work by the seasons
And not by the clocking-on time
We ought to live
Where the hills are grassy green
And not be a slave tied to the machine.

Old Ned Ludd
Told us what to do
Took his hammer to the mill
And he swung it high and true
With you and me,
with you and me.

I got 17 years transportation
For the work we did that night
And the people I left behind
Had to hide their face from the light
When I got back couldn’t see those grassy hills
For the piles of shit from their dreary mills.

Old Ned Ludd
Was sleeping down below
I knew that he was waiting
But no one told me so
For you and me,
for you and me.


My children’s children’s children
Say the works are running down
The time has come again
To see Ned’s hammer swinging round
If things don’t change
Someone’s gotta help them on
So we can see the rising sun.

Old Ned Ludd
Never going to die
He’s got a hundred thousand faces
And I know he’s standing by
He’s you and me,
he’s you and me.
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-lah.
Track Name: Fire & Blood
Didn't we warn you?
When the storm blew
Through your towns and cities
Why was it a surprise?
What's it gonna take to open your eyes?
Fire and blood is coming
If that's what it takes to make a change.
Fire and blood,
Yeah yeah yeah,
Fire and blood
If that's what it takes to make a change.

The bankers robbed you of millions,
No, make that billions,
And you rewarded them with billions more.
That's when we decided it was war.
I scored a 3D telly from the local store
Cos everyone telling me my life was incomplete
So I grabbed this opportunity to grab my seat
In the front row of the me generation.
The beak gave me fifteen years.
Well spare your tears
Cos I've made a resolution
To turn their jails into
Universities of revolution.
Forget the SWP and the CPB
And all the other acronyms.
They've got nothing to say
That will put off the time that's coming
Don't you dare to think of slumming
The time of blood and fire
Yeah yeah yeah
Your future's gonna be dire
The time of blood and fire.

When the people of France arose
And sent the rich to lose their heads
There was just one test
Perhaps it wasn't the best
But keep it simple was the rule
Even a fool could understand:
Show us your hands.
That wouldn't work for us
Cos none of has worked for generations
So our hands are just as soft as yours.
That's no sensation.
If you got a Merc and we can't even afford a bike
Then we'll torch it.
If your shop windows are full of stuff we can't afford
Well thank the Lord
He gave us bricks and stones
To set the record straight
We can't wait
Any longer.
We're feeling strong
And getting stronger.
Don't ask us when
The time is now.
That's us you hear knocking on history's door
Cos this is war
A time of fire and blood
Yeah yeah yeah
Blood and fire.

The flames are mounting higher
Fire and blood
It's no good
Promising jam tomorrow
The time is now
Now's the time
And the time is good.
D'you hear me?
The time of blood and fire.
Join us or burn!
Join us or bleed!
Blood and fire
Yeah yeah yeah
Fire and blood.