WORKING FOR THE SUBBY – Johnjo’s tale….available for 99p on Amazon

JOHNJO…is the study of a man from the cradle to the grave. Forced to go on the run from his Comeragh hill farm at an early age, Johnjo washes up in Lincolnshire in war-time England. Working on farms, and often finding himself treated worse than the prisoners-of-war, he goes on the run again. And so begins a life-long association with ‘the lump’ – the dark underbelly of the construction industry. From building motorways and living in camps you ‘wouldn’t keep a decent dog in’, we eventually find him working in London for a ‘subby’ called Bannaher – not having been home to Ireland for more than thirty years. Disillusioned and bitter at having been ground down by the harshness of his life, he, nevertheless, hangs on to a few sparks of defiance. The final straw comes when he sees his friend (lover?) buried alive in the trench they are working in, and he embarks on a rebellious ‘last hurrah

McAlpine’s Fusiliers
As down the glen came McAlpine’s men with their shovels slung behind them
It was in the pub they drank the sub and up in the spike you’ll find them
They sweated blood and they washed down mud with pints and quarts of beer
And now we’re on the road again with McAlpine’s Fusiliers

I stripped to the skin with the Darky Flynn way down upon the Isle of Grain
With the Horseface Toole I knew the rule, no money if you stop for rain
When McAlpine’s god was a well filled hod with your shoulders cut to bits and seared
And woe to he who looks for tea with McAlpine’s Fusiliers

I remember the day that the Bear O’Shea fell into a concrete stairs
What the Horseface said, when he saw him dead, well it wasn’t what the rich call prayers
I’m a navvy short was the one retort that reached unto my ears
When the going is rough, well you must be tough with McAlpine’s Fusiliers

I’ve worked till the sweat near had me bet with Russian, Czech and Pole
On shuddering jams up in the hydro dams or underneath the Thames in a hole
I grafted hard and I’ve got me cards and many a gangers fist across me ears
If you pride your life, don’t join, by Christ, with McAlpine’s Fusiliers


I was weaned on country music
Rock-n-roll and poverty
Irish style.
Son, the priest said,
Put that guitar away
And get that hair cut right
And don’t play
‘I Can Get No Satisfaction’
It’s a sin to call yourselves
The Red Devils, he said,
And in his shadows
I could see mother nodding her head.
So we became The Royal Dukes,
Zig-zagging across Munster
And played ‘Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown’
This will not do, he roared,
Rattling his pulpit,
The youth of my parish,
Harbingers of the Devil’s music,
What is wrong with Frank Ifield?
Dead music, Father, I told him
And offered to debate it
But he wouldn’t listen.
So I emigrated.




 Don’t drive while you’re black
‘Cos you may get stopped on the way back
From wherever you have been
Doing bad things to country and queen

Never drive when you’re black
Looking for white people to attack
‘Cos that’s a crime too
Though it’s okay to drive when you’re blue

Driving while black
Means you could get shot in the back
For turning left or failing to stop
By some trigger-happy, non-black cop


Some other ‘crimes’ while being black;
Smoking while black
Learning while black
Walking while black
Shopping while black
Eating while black

In fact almost any damn thing while black



free on Amazon at present.