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The Row Between The Cages

Woodhorn Colliery Northumberland

Woodhorn Colliery Northumberland

One mornen wen Aa went ti wark, the site was most exsiten.
Aa heard a noise, an lucked around, an who de yi think was fiten?
Aa stud amazed an at them gazed, ti see them in such rages;
Aa’d nivver seen a row like that between the Brockwil cages.

The owld cage says: “Cum o’er the gates, because it’s my intenshin;
To let yi see wetha thoo or me is the best invenshin.”
The new ‘un been raised, tuk off ees clays, an’ at it they went a-dabbin;
The blud was runnen doon the skeets, an’ past the wayman’s cabin.

The owld cage says: “Let’s hev me clays; thi thought thit thoo cud flay me;
But if Aa’d been as young as thoo, As’s certain Aa cud pay thee.”
The patent knockt his ankle off, an the’ both had cutten faces;
The shifters rapt three for ti ride, so the’ both went ti ther places.

When gannen up an doon the shaft, the patent cage did threaten;
For ti take the owld’ns life if thi started meetin’.
The owld cage bawled out as the’ past: “Thi nasty dorty patent!
Rub tha’ eyes against the skeets – for Aa think thi’s hardly wakened.”

The patent ti the owld cage says: “Although Aa be a stranger;
Aa kin wark me wark as weel as thoo, an free thi men from danger.
Noo, if the rope should break wi’ me, owld skinny jaws, just watch is;
Thi’ll see me clag on ti the skeets, for ‘am full i’ springs en’ catches.”

The owld cage ti the patent says: “Aa’l warrent thi think thi’s clivver;
Because thi’v polished thoo wi’ paint, but thoo’l not last for ivver.
The paint on thoo it ‘ill wear away, an then thi’s lost tha beauty;
Thi’ nivver painted me at aal, an still Aa’ve dun me duty.”

The brakesmin brought thim both ti bank, the mischeef for ti settle;
They fowt from five o’clock ti’ louse, an thi patent won the battle.
It tuk the brakesmin half a shift ti clag them up wi plasters;
An the owld cage sent his notice in; just ti vex the masters.

Tommy Armstrong (1848-1919)
I’ve written the song as it’s sung in south-tyneside – far too many transcriptions of Geordie/Durham songs are made to look like they are scottish – mostly by ill-informed southeners. The area around Durham, (and the River Wear) is characterised by the frequent use of the old ‘Thou’, Thee, etc., or local derivations thereof.
The song is usually sung to the tune of an earlier local song ‘The Row upon The Stairs’. (Notes by JWB)


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