Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Shall We Do With The Daily Papers

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor)

Down in old Melbourne four harlots do dwell
The four daily papers that we know so well,
The Sun and the Herald, the Argus and Age
Just four little birds in the one gilded cage.

Four workers one cribtime sat down in a bunch;
They were reading their papers and eating their lunch,
When the eldest, a fellow called Militant Mick
Says, "The lies that they print, why they fair make me sick"

"Now the front page is full of the wars, hot and cold,
That are helping the millionaires pile up more gold,
And appeals to us workers to please do our bit"
He turns over the page, as the boys all say "S . . t!"

"The second page holds all the editor's thoughts
On how to smash unions by using the courts,
And how to make money by growing more wool"
He turns over the page as the boys yell out "B . . l!"

"Three, four and five are for killers and drunks,
And the Folies Bergeres in their transparent trunks,
The rapes and divorces, the scandal and shock."
He turns over the page, as the boys shout out "C . . k!"

"Six is the page for the Toorak to-do,
Who's getting married, and who is up who,
And the frantic old antics of the socialite sluts."
He turns over the page and the boys all say "N . . ts!"

"The next fifteen pages for the births and the deaths,
Use Chlorophyll toothpaste to sweeten your breaths,
Buy from Foy and Gibson, Myer or Buck."
He turns over the page as the boys mutter "F . . k!"

"The back page says Jan's a good thing for the Cup,
Or maybe Morse Code, if they smarten him up,
Or they might all dead heat, that's if none of them falls."
He turns over the page and they all shout out "B . . ls!"

"Now listen here, comrades, this press isn't free,
It's bought by the bosses for hard L.S.D
This I must tell you, no matter what comes --
It's sole use for us is for wiping our b . ms!"

So they folded their papers and cut them up small,
Put a string through the corner, hung them up on the wall,
And in this way found a use for each page
Of the Herald and Argus, the Sun and the Age.

The following Tuesday a letter they read
From the Acting Director of Sewage, who said,
"Dear Sirs, the papers you've flushed down the drain
Are corrupting my t . . ds, so don't do it again."

Now the moral of this is quite easy to see,
If we want a press that really is free,
That will help all us workers get out of the mess
We must pitch in and fight for the working-class press.

I find myself in Melbourne today and had the misfortune to read a copy of the Herald-Sun in a cafe this morning.  Accordingly, I was delighted to find this ditty among the material I have collected in the process of assembling the blog.  I've added the chorus at beginning and end to round it out.

From John Meredith's notes in the National Library of Australia.  The bowdlerised lyrics are as they appear in the original typed notes.

The illustration to this post is the header from the Melbourne Argus on Melbourne Cup Day (Tuesday, November 4, 1952).  Morse Code (who had placed third in 1950 and fallen in 1951) failed to place.  This likely dates this song to that year.  Morse Code had been a clear favourite for some weeks leading up to the Cup.


  1. I just found this..... how wonderfully relevant a lot of this is today!! For anyone not knowing the LSD stands for pounds shillings and pence not the drug :)
    And oh, I remember newspaper being cut in squares and hung in our backyard lav.

  2. Murdochs Sun has not changed one little bit. Tory Tory and more Tory!