The Bricklayer's Song
The Bricklayer's Lament
was told by Gerard Hoffnung
at the Oxford Union,
December 4th, 1958.
More recently it was converted
into a song.
Dear sir I write this note to you to tell you of me
For at the time of writing it, I'm not a pretty
Me body is all black & blue, me face a deathly
And I write this note to say why I am not at work
While working on the 14th floor some bricks I had to
But tossing them down from such a height, was not
a good idea,
The foreman wasn't very pleased, he is an
and he said I had to cart them down the
ladders in me hod.
Well clearing all these bricks by hand, it was so
So I hoisted up a barrel and secured a rope
But in me haste to do the job, I was too blind to
That a barrel full of building bricks was heavier
And so when I untied the rope, the barrel fell like lead,
And clinging tightly to the rope, I started up instead.
I shot up like a rocket, and to my dismay I found
That halfway up I met the bloody barrel coming down.
Well, the barrel broke me shoulder as to
the ground it sped,
And when I reached the top, I banged
the pulley with me head.
But I clung on tightly, numb
with shock, from this almighty blow,
While the barrel
spilled out half its bricks some fourteen floors below.
Now when these bricks had fallen from the barrel to the
I then outweighed the barrel & so started down
But I clung on tightly to the rope, me body wracked with
And halfway down I met the bloody barrel once
The force of this collision halfway down the
Caused multiple abrasions and a nasty case
But I clung on tightly to the rope as I fell
towards the ground,
And I landed on the broken bricks the
barrel had scattered round.
Well as I lay there on the floor I thought I'd
passed the worst,
But the barrel hit the pulley wheel
& then the bottom burst.
A shower of bricks rained
down on me; I didn't have a hope.
As I lay there bleeding
on the ground I let go the bloody rope.
The barrel now
being heavier, it started down once more.
It landed right
across me as I lay there on the floor.
It broke three
ribs and my left arm, and I can only say,
"I hope you'll
understand why I am not at work today."
Song by Ray Stevens
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