These Are The Things


A real mixed bag of songs with some great stories ranging from lost love via Irish immigration to the Middle East war.  "These are the things" features "I wish I could turn back time" a song telling of an ex miner's struggle to find work. This song has found its way into the repertoire of many a floor singer around the folk clubs of the UK.

Thanks go to Chris Watson, whose poem "Two Million Soldiers" formed the basis of the song of the same name.

"Pure, unadorned Winter Wilson....................and splendid stuff for all that" David Kidman Net Rythms



1. I Wish I Could Turn Back Time

Once a miner always a miner
The old man used to say
I scraped the dirt from my finger nails
And I threw me boots away
I've had countless jobs since they closed us down
And I'm still on minimum wage
Clinging onto my pride, but there's nowhere to hide
It gets harder everyday

I've worked doors and bars I've sold used cars
Swept the streets just to earn a crust
Swung a pick and a shovel it's an uphill struggle
These dreams don't amount to much
Once I had direction once I had a plan
But the politicians snatched it from my hands
Another kick in the teeth for the working man
Hey brother can you spare me a mine?

Chorus I wish I could turn back time,
             For a decent wage I'd get back in that cage,
             Into the dirt and the grime, back down the mine
             If only I could turn back time.

Me and the lad we sold cheap booze and fags
Every Sunday from the back of a van
We took a tumble the day we got rumbled
By the customs and excise man
All our stock he took he impounded our truck
Our prospects again looking bleak
When the magistrate he said boys don't be late
I'll see you in court next week


What's past is past, time travels fast
I'm not bitter what's done is done
They bricked up the door back in 84
Turned the lights out one by one

Redundancy tokens, communities broken
Blood brothers who no longer speak
From brass bands and banners to multi store planners
Take a long hard look and then weep


Back to tracklist



2. Watermelon Karen

They call her watermelon Karen. She runs a liquor store,
She's a local legend in downtown Baltimore,
She stocks 200 brands of whisky 
Knows each one by its smell,
Her pastimes they are drinking,
Singing songs and raising hell,

Oh Karen, who's your best friend now?       

Karen she's a beauty, got eyes of sapphire blue,
Rumour says that on her thigh she wears a rose tattoo,
She makes her face up every morning,
Shadowed eyes and powder rouge,
Her lipstick like her lovers,
She will change to match her moods,

Oh Karen, who's your best friend now?

There's a long-suffering husband, 
Sitting waiting by the phone,
Knowing sometime late at night 
He'll get a call to take her home,
He say's “I know she loves me, I'm certain that she does.
But when the licquor takes her, 
There's not room for both of us.”

Oh Karen, who's your best friend now?

Back to tracklist



3. I'll Never Get to Heaven

I saw a man on the tv, singing praise to the Lord,
He's taking credit card donations,
Give me all you can afford,
Well you're a long time dead son,
You got a house you can sell?

If you don't put up the cash boy,
You know you’re gonna rot in hell,

Chorus    I'll never get to heaven,I don't believe it's fair,
                I'll never see those pearly gates, 
                Saint Peter waiting there,
                When it comes to my redemption,
                I haven't got a prayer,
                I'll never get to heaven 'cause I can't afford the fare,

Looks like I'm a loser, my soul is gonna burn,
It's not about religion, but it's how much you can earn,
There's a stairway to eternity, 
And it's paved with solid gold,
If you don't put up the cash boy,
Then they'll leave you in the cold,


Jesus he’s been good to me, I've suffered for my faith,
It's never been that easy, 
But the lord he's kept me straight,
He's given me a limousine, a house up in the hills,
He pays for all my holidays, and picks up all my bills,


Back to tracklist



4. Metagama (Look at me Now)

Strong farmer lads we're wanting,
That's what the paper said,
The soil is soft and fertile, it'll keep your children fed,
His face lit like a beacon. Sold at once was he,
If you love me then you'll follow,for it's Canada for me.

Chorus     Look at me now, I'm a thousand miles from home,
                 On board the Metagama, ploughing through the foam,
                 My heart it aches for Lewis, my mother and my dad,
                 But I'd cross the rolling ocean, for my handsome farmer lad,

He told me I was beautiful, when I was just sixteen,
A rose cannot compare with you 
My darling sweet Christine,
I was caught hook line and sinker,
By his good looks and his charm,
And now I'm bound for Canada, 
And working on the farm


I'm not alone upon this voyage. 
There's me and hundreds more,
The wild Atlantic Ocean is the opening of the door,
Prosperity is waiting. There's riches to be had,
But I struck gold the day I met my handsome farmer lad.


Back to tracklist



5. Two Million Soldiers

I fought at the Somme lad. That's what the old boy said,
I took a lung full of mustard gas 
That should have left me dead
Now I live here 'midst these winos, vagabonds and bums
Begging soup and cast off clothing, rich table's crumbs
You see this old coat that I wear 
These medals and these boots
They've walked through countless battlefields
Worn by countless troops
Now I wheeze and I cough lad, I struggle for my breath
Every step I shuffle takes me closer to my death

Chorus    My memory's clear, my dignity's gone
                1916 the battle of the bloody Somme
                My country's deserted me I live on claims for the poor 
                A certified hero. I'm the soldier who lost the bloody war.

Post-traumatic stress you say tho’ prove it if you can
I’ve had every kind of syndrome that's ever known to man
But we never saw a lawyer - no win no bloody fee
No pills or compensation for soldier boys like me


Now I see them selling poppies, remembering their dead
Brothers, friends and comrades rest easy in your beds
You say that I’m the lucky one at least I have survived
I say I'm an embarrassment in my country's eyes 


Back to tracklist



6. I Never Intended Running Away

Stayed overnight at the Novotel up about 3am
7.45 I was on a flight. I haven't been back since then
I haven't been back since then
I never intended running away
But I guess we just got lost for things to say

Dublin seemed like the place to be
Busking 'round temple bar
Heavy on fun but short on sleep
And it's not where you are. It's not where you are 
I never intended running away
You didn't try too hard persuading me to stay

Thought I might write I thought I might phone
Thought we might be best just to leave things alone
Life's hard without you, with you it's worse
'Cause it's a fine line between a blessing and a curse

Sang my songs to the wall at the bitter end
Not a soul there to here me play
Gonna keep on singing 'till I fill my jar
And then I'm calling it a day, back up to JFK
I never intended running away
But I can't get a gig and no one's begging me to stay

I’m on my way

Back to tracklist



7. Cobwebs On the Windows

There's a sign on the doorway says I'll be back soon
I'm not suspicious but it's been there since June
Now it's early December and the leaves have all gone
Maybe she's gone with them I don't know
Where she came from

You'd have thought she could've written she could have left me a note
Maybe the words they got stuck in her throat
You see it's not that I was in love with her but it's good to have a friend
I can't help but wonder sometimes 
She's not coming back again

I don't really miss her but the days they seem so long
The weather doesn't help 'cause it's been cold since she's been gone
At nights I get lonely I'm not one to watch tv
I can't help but wonder sometimes 
If she ever thinks of me

So maybe tomorrow or maybe not at all
It's not all the world to me if I don't get that call
I suppose I should have written I should have left her a note
Don't you find the words sometimes 
Get stuck in your throat

Back to tracklist



8. Jilly

Jilly wears her heart like an open book
Every day sees a new page. Come on take a look
Jilly says her lover doesn’t understand
He don't give his love anymore
He just gives her the back of his hand

Chorus    What you gonna do about it
                How’re you gonna save your soul
                How’re you gonna crush the beast within

                You say you wanna change but I doubt it
                Your prison is the life you lead
                I don't think you'll ever be free

Jilly's not my mother or my lover she's a friend of mine
She's easy to talk to, she doesn't waste my time
Jilly keeps saying some day she's gonna run away
She's gonna make a clean break
But there's something that makes her stay


She keeps her fingers crossed when she's making a promise
And she smiles when she's afraid
She never counts the cost but she's hopelessly honest
It's the price she has to pay

Jilly's walking barefoot along this stony ground
She does her crying on the inside
She never makes a sound
It's a shame and a pity about this life she leads
When you're living on a knife-edge
You get cut and then you bleed


Jilly wears her heart like an open book

Back to tracklist



9. September In a Seaside Town

Chimney pots all in a line, 
Like weary soldiers out of time,
Grateful seagulls gather round,
Seek shelter as the rain falls down.
Shiny slates all cracked and broken,
Do their best against the soaking.
Summer she said, she must be joking,
September in a seaside town.

Bellevue Terrace 33, here Mary keeps her B&B.
Grey net curtains and nylon sheets,
The windows rattle, the stairs they creek.
A couple knock upon the door,
They'd stayed there thirty years before.
Their honeymoon it was back then,
If they could they'd do it all again.

 Chorus   The Royal Crescent the esplanade,
                The whalebone arch the fishing trade,
                Grandeur with its edges frayed,
                Clinging to its former glory,
                Such a familiar story,
                September in a seaside town.

They walk past the shops and up the hill,
The Abbey's ruins standing still,
Just as their memories recall.
As the light begins to fade,
They hear the crashing of the waves,
Transported to a bygone age,
Happy that their love's still strong,
For together they belong.


Back to tracklist



10. These Are the Things

I get a card on my birthday, arriving without fail
Sending me best wishes and a bouquet by the mail
Roses and chrysanthemums, you know I like them best
The card goes in a shoebox and the flowers are all pressed

Chorus   These are the things, the silly things
               The stupid things I do
               These are the things that matter
               Whenever I think of you

There's a shirt hangs in the wardrobe
It's keeping you close by
A photo in the bedroom has me gazing in your eyes
It's clear you'll never leave me. You are all around this place
But when I lie in my bed at night all I hold is empty space


I find it hard not to phone you. It's because I know you care
You have a different life to lead, it's taken you elsewhere
Sometimes I wish something would happen
So that I could cry for help
You could be my Superman. Oh how Lois Lane must have felt!

Back to tracklist



11. Tell My Mother I'll Not Be Gone Long

I sat down with my father tho’ I couldn't explain,
We both knew what it was I was saying.
All I need is a ticket and you've money you say,
Tell me what is the point in me staying?
I arrived on that shore in a second hand suit,
Head held high and a shine on my boots,
I burned a few bridges but can't cut my roots,
Tell my mother I'll not be gone long,
Soon I’ll be heading back home

I worked like a donkey long hours in the fields,
We cut caulies and riddled potatoes,
You learn not to question the hours or the pay,
For hunger's a great motivator
In a couple of years I thought I'd have it made,
Cash in my pocket and a wedge I'll have saved,
Sail back to Ireland on the crest of a wave,
Tell my mother I'll not be gone long,
Soon I'll be heading back home,

So many years past I still can't settle down, 
Feeling like I'm incomplete
I jump on and off of this merry go round,
There’s a stranger on every street,
What price would you pay for treasure like these?
A plastercast Jesus and Rosary beads, 
A fistful of blisters and arthritic knees,
Tell my mother I'll not be gone long,
Soon I'll be heading back home,

Now I see faces from far distant lands,
And I think of how I used to be,
The jokes and the accents they can't understand 
It so easily could have been me,
Tell me now who's the paddy the mick or the spic,
Who’s the dago the kraut or the jew,
The snowflake the nigger the list just gets bigger,
I'm telling you brother it's you. 
Take a look in the mirror it's true.


Back to tracklist



12. Don't Ask Me Why

What makes me do those things when I know they'll hurt you
What makes me say those words when I know they'll make you cry
There's a price for living in the way I chose to
There's a price to pay; don't ask me why 

Why does it hurt like hell when you love someone
What makes it twice as hard to say goodbye
I don't know the reason but it's not for the want of asking
Must have heard the question more than a million times
Don't ask me why, don't ask me why

Why is it people change does this have to be
Why do we tie them down when they should go free
Human nature it makes no sense it just leads us on
So we cover our faces build up our defences 
And hide when things go wrong
Don't ask me why, don't ask me why

Now I'm lying here in the twighlight hours 
Getting scared in case it all turns sour
I can hear her breathing next to me
I got ghosts and demons there in my head
Screaming out every word I said
Turning every stone in my memory
Don't ask me why, don't ask me why

Back to tracklist



13. Thank The Lord I'm an Atheist

Thank the Lord I'm an atheist. I can love who I like
Hindu or Catholic I don't give a shite
Presbyterian, Rastafarian, Sikh, Muslim or Jew
Thank the Lord I'm an atheist
I can love all of you


Back to tracklist



14. Middle England to the Middle East

What's going on over there? I don't like what I see.
They need education, from the land of the free.
We'll teach them a lesson; they'll get what they deserve.
In the name of democracy, peace and oil reserves.

Chorus   It's a wrap son; hope you enjoy the feast.
               We've come from Middle England to the Middle East.
               We've come from Middle England to the Middle East.

If the cause is yours, it's worth fighting for.
Under the right conditions, it's a holy war.
You just need an angle, a lame excuse.
How about repression, or human rights abuse?


If this war is just then I guess I'm the queen.
They've got a strange definition of what's obscene.
It's not my fault, I'm not to blame.
In God we trust, we kill we maim.


I think there's a need for military action.
This calls for weapons of mass distraction,
So fight the good fight; the winner takes the spoils,
But for God and for Allah, keep pumping the oil!


Back to tracklist