Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bill From Erskineville

By John Dengate

I'm pleased to meet you, my name's Bill,
I'm working in a factory in Erskinville.
You have to crawl and conditions are a crime
But you get a few dollars worth of overtime.
Hooray, ain't life grand;
I'm saving the deposit on a block of land.

I met a young fellow selling real estate -
He's running from the coppers in another state.
And he's the friend of a generous gent
Who's lending money at twenty percent.
Hooray, life's a lark;
I'm swimmin' in the water with a finance shark.

I had a couple of dollars on a short-priced horse
Running in a welter on the Rosehill course
But too much weight and too little pace
And the bugger finished twelfth in a twelve-horse race.
Hooray, faithful nag;
Ferryin' the money to the bookie's bag.

I had a little flutter on the poker machines
And I won a dollar forty when it paid three Queens,
So I chases the aces around the wheels
Now I can't afford the money for to pay for meals.
Hooray, feed the slot;
Haul upon the handle till you lose the lot.

Lottery tickets have me up shit creek;
I was twenty off a five-dollar prize last week.
The tyres on my car are all worn through
And the registration's overdue.
Hooray, hip-hurrah
For a worn-out, second-hand Holden car.

I said to my wife, "We've reached the stage
Where we cannot manage on a single wage."
Now she pulls beer in the pub saloon
And the kids run wild in the afternoon.
Hooray, name your brand,
I'm drinkin' the deposit for a block of land.

I'm pleased to meet you, my name's Bill
I'm working in a factory in Erskineville

Used with the kind permission of the author. John recalls writing this song in 1972 or 1973, when it won a song-writing competition run by the Newcastle Trades and Labour Council. A well-known identity on the Australian folk scene, John continues to write and to busk around Sydney. The National Library of Australia holds some great recordings of both his songs and biographical interviews (link). I learnt this one from the singing of Glen Donald.


  1. Nice singing, John...and great choice of songs.

  2. This sounds like a much older song, but I can't put my finger on the title of the older song. Any idea where this song comes from?
    -Joe Offer