Be Handy (The Treadmill)
From John Harris, South Wales and Paddy Gaul, Waterford, Ireland
Sources: The James Madison Carpenter Collection AFC 1972/001 MS pp. 00114 (Gaul song text), 09126 (Gaul music notation), 00115- 00116 (Harris song text) and 09126 Harris music notation)
Most of the verses are from Harris’ singing, except verse 6 from Paddy Gaul and the last which I supplied.
- Oh come all you sailors and as you draw near
Attention give to my song I pray sir
I’m going to begin with a free good will
For to tell you the news of our treadmill.Chorus.
Singing tau-rau-rau, lay along now
Be handy, boys, be handy now.
- Oh from Liverpool town we set sail, sir
With a sweet and pleasant gale, sir
Oh we set sail from Liverpool town
To St. John’s, New Brunswick we were bound
- Oh our ship was called the Burton Head
Every day they weighed our pound of bread, sir
Oh our captain’s name was Bully Brown
If you growled at that he’d knock you down.
- Our chief mate’s name was Dicky Greene
He was the dirtiest old (son of a gun/pirate) you’d ever seen
He would walk the deck in his white straw hat
And think of himself no dirt in that.
- Oh as true as I am a living sinner
Murphys we got none for dinner
Oh the bread was as hard as any tin
And the beef was as salt as Lot’s wife’s chin.
- After boxing us around all day
It’s, ‘Lay aloft’ and we’d reef away
And when we’d come down from aloft
It’s, ‘Man the pumps now’ he would scoff.
- So sailors all who hear my tale
On the Burton Head don’t ever sail
Hard word, bad grub you’ll get your fill
They’ll work you to death on that treadmill.