Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bill and the Bear








John Thompson






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1. Come listen now, good people here
To a story of renown
of the day a hundred years ago
when the circus came to town
Mr Wirth and all his gallant crew
They raised the big top high
And all the folk for miles around
Gathered under a canvas sky

Chorus:
And were you there in the clear night air
when William Sinclair he fought the bear
Were you there to see William Sinclair
When he wrestled the bear to the ground

2. There were dancing ponies and tumbling clowns
The best you ever did see
A lion tamer and a high wire act
A girl on the flying trapeze
There was a fat ring-master in a big top hat
And he slashed his whip through the air
With a roar and a growl, a cage went clang
It was samson the mighty bear


3. He was ten feet high, he was nine feet wide
A mountain of muscle and fur
A mighty beast just as black ar the coal
The ground shook with his roar
Then the man with the whip He called for quiet
not a sound from those who were there
I've a crisp ten pounds for any man here
Who's brave enough to wrestle a bear.


4. Bill and his family had come to see the show
his youngest newly born
The strongest man to ever walk the range
He'd carry his weight in corn
he sized up the beast, with a glance at his wife
he slowly raised his hand
"I'll have a go", he heard himself say
then up struck the band

5. Stripped to the waist, bill entered the ring
Circling and bouncing round
First left, then right, 'til he lunged right in
The crowd didn't make a sound
They twisted and they turned as they wrestled and they grappled
At the skin and the muscle and the hair
With a mighty roar, Bill threw Samson down
He raised his fist in the air

6. You've never heard a roar quite like it
The shouts split the midnight air
Bill was raised above all the heads of the crowd
to the cheers of everyone there
And to this day, when you see the name
of the famous Bill Sinclair
Raise your glass and drink to the health
Of the only man to ever beat the bear.


The true story of a Glaswegian emigrant to Australia, William Sinclair, who became famous in the Maleny District of South-East Queensland for defeating a bear in a wrestling match when a circus visited Landsborough in the early 20th Century.

This track from cloudstreet's Circus of Desires album.

This post is dedicated to Bill's grandson, Leslie Norman ("Nugget") Sinclair who died at the age of 92 on 26 August, 2011.

The illustration to this post is from a 1940s American sideshow poster.

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