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Never Say Only
I'm only a bloody old shovel, and I reckon I've served my time.
worked on a couple of gold fields and tunneled in many a mine.
born in a Yorkshire foundry - Sheffield they say was my name. And I
flattened a couple of Aussies but I wasn't entirely to blame.
I'd been shoveling their nuggets and wasn't playing the game but I bet if
they tested tomorrow they'd soon find my true DNA.
pressed me called Bernard, I was ground and polished by hand. Packed in a
crate with my cousins and sealed with some flat metal bands.
to the docks we were trundled, New Zealand it was said we were
and into the hold we were lowered where the rattling of chains
was the sound.
The ship was carrying migrants, English, Iris and
and a fellow they said was from Jersey in the galley was
wrestling the pots.
We sailed for three months on the ocean, battled
and beat the high seas
and but for the skill of the skipper, hands
together, they'd be still on their knees.
We sailed up a
picturesque harbour it was tranquil, the end of the race
and in front
stood a township Dunedin - so proud, so precise, so in place.
was joy as we bumped at the quayside, there was yelling and kissing and
cheers and some folks who met their relations broke down and shed happy
At the wharf we were dumped rather roughly, checked and
stamped by a clerk
and then we were off to a warehouse, it was great to
be out of the dark.
We were fitted with hickory handles, lined up like
- as I glance at myself in the window - oh what a dashing
Now I hang in a Princes Street window, on a hook in a
dull winters light and a row of fine saws hang beside me so straight and
so sharp and so bright.
There were Tea cups and Tea Pots and Tea
squares - a hardware and anything store there were frypans and jam pans
and oil cans, and gold pans stacked by the door.
It was a few
tears, since gold was discovered in a gulley below the blue spur,
as migrants arrived by the hundred, Otago became the great lure.
time it was called Teapeka but the miners were spreading their
and new fields were being prospected and the signs were for much
Two months I shone from that window, like silver,
during the day, but at night 'neath the light of a gas lamp I was ghostly,
a china blue grey.
A chap shuffled in one spring morning he was creamy
and wore strange loose clothes
and he studied us shovels for some
minutes, it was finally me that he chose.
He felt me and tossed me and
swung me - I felt like a child's new toy
but I sneaked a quick glance
o'er his shoulder on the docket he signed - Charles Sew Hoy.
to the gold fields I ventured with two cobbers, a pick and a pan.
the back of this shuffling celestial - but ah what a hell of a man.
of the hardships and troubles and triumphs, and perhaps a touch of
another time I'll tell you that story, just for you, I'll
open the door.
I was dug up from a creek in the Kyeburn - a young guy
was working his claim
and he lifted me ever so gently, Hank I think was
I'd lay their for nearly a century in the snow and the ice
and the rain
and I'd suffered many a blizzard in this cold unforgiving
Now I'm rusty and pitted and holey - only half my original
and but for the knowledge of Hank boy I'd never have been
My owner had thrown me in anger my hickory handle he'd
he'd used me instead of a crowbar - not an intelligent
Now I stand on the shelf at the Danseys, it's friendly and cozy
and I feel that I'm one of the family - it's almost like being
It's good to be rid of the frostbite and great to be free of
and the best advice I can give you is "Never say only
By Des Styles
Up in Upper Kyburn amoung the lizards and the rocks
where the miner
works his heart out shoveling wash dirt through his box
Up among the
tussocks the mountains and the sky
where his thoughts return to
innocence and he only wonders why
Up onto the bedrock in the schist and in the shale
and the word that
never passed his lips that he could ever fail
But he loved the simple
lifestyle and the surroundings so serene
and when he lay in bed at
nights that's where he set his dream
Up to the tailings so straight and firmly stacked
up into the
workings where no boss could have him sacked
For the moon had not been
conquered and the time-clock far away
and the children making scones
with mum considered it a play
Where the hawk and the hare and the skylark and the purple
and the wind comes gently through the hills like a newborn
Where the briar and matagouri think the valleys are their
and the cattle on the hillside must surely love to roam
But the miner in the mountains still rests and wonders why
knows that time is running out but he's not afraid to die.
For when the
man with the beard and flowing gown and scythe behind his cheek
bended stoop and the facial droop and the sandals on his feet
says; "come yonder my good miner, come hither, take a seat
you've served your timerock wrestling and digging in that creek.
can leave your pick and shovel and the crow bar steel and sleek
you've won your celestial nugget and the goldfields you have
By Des Styles
A Curling Song
"Now the winter days are over and the spring is on it's way,
man who was a curler - he must put his broom away.
Stow away his hat
and ribbons, for the door is tightly shut,
On the crampits and the
granites in the ancient curling hut.
For we've played the pride of
Scotland and the Maple Leaf team too -
We were open to all comers
while we wore the Royal Blue,
And we struggled with the Black Hats and
the Red Hats and the White,
And we 'played' till 'we small hours' with
the usual curlers' 'skite'
But you're back now tending cattle, and
I'm back now shearing sheep,
In the tiring endless battle with a wife
and a brood to keep.
And I wonder somewhat sadly now our ways are far
Will you think, like me, of curling with an aching in your
When the summer sun is burning and the days are filled with
Will you know a sudden yearning for black ice beneath your
Will you hear the old stones roaring as your lonely job you
And the shouting of the curlers and the swishing of the
With a whiskey for a good shot (and a whiskey for the
And the brothers of the Bonspiel and the good times that we
Driving down the Ida Valley with a load of stones and
When the snow was on the mountains and the frost was in the
Driving down the Ida Valley when the sun was hardly
Where the eager curlers rally for a Silver Curling Cup.
last days of December ( thought he days are hot as hell),
I know you'll
still remember - and I'll drink a toast as well.
The Old Curler
The old curler stood at the head of the rink.
His broom in one hand
- in his other a drink.
He looked at the stone that was nearest 'the
A black kiwi granite was holding 'the shot'.
to his skip "Now you know what to do
Its not one of ours for our colour
If you 'draw through the port' you will take it away
Cup will be ours - you've the last stone to play."
He thought of
the long days he spent on the ice.
The way his wife spoke - it was not
Away with the dawn and late home for sup -
All would be
redeemed if they brought back the Cup.
Her eyes would light up at
the silver so bright,
Her voice would calm down and not go half the
( How the cares of a curler's wife weigh like a
Through a few weeks of winter can she sure carry on.
a curler drops all at the call of good ice,
His work, pay and home he
forgets in a trice,
And a day or a week or a month he could
Sweeping the stones from 'the hog' to 'tee tee'.
positioned his broom and he asked for 'tee weight'.
"Just draw 'through
the port' and we'll sweep you in mate."
But the stone went astray as
some stones often do
And a black stone moved up and the Black Hats sat
The old curler stood there and gazed at his skip,
and his drink in his woe-begone grip,
"Ask for 'draw port' and you get
a 'chap and lie'
It's enough to bring tears to an old curler's
Late that nigh in the bar, though, his spirits did
The jubilant winners had left with their prize,
But the old
curler noticed he wasn't alone
There were plenty more losers there
scared to go home
By Blue Jeans
Life's a Mixture
The winter snow fell on the hill, the way that snowfalls do,
Harry missed the Switchblade Track and failed to rendezvous;
silent, strange and deathly cold, the white world stretched away,
dark and drear beneath the fog, though it was the break of day.
from the fences and the trees the chilling hoar frost hung,
And to the
tussocks and the scrub and to men's beards it clung.
grounded by the fog close by did stand,
And icicles and ice were all
around the frozen land.
When Jack spoke up; "We'll have to wait,
let common sense prevail;
We could search a week or more and then we
still might fail.
A dozen lives we'd risk for one (providing he's
I don't see how a man could spend a night there and
"He could be past the Breakneck Bluff or down by headlong
He could be up on Devil's Spur or out near Ogre Peak.
not a hut for miles about, we'll have to wait I say.
The fog must clear
and then we'll get the 'whirly-bird' away."
But Alan said; "He's a
mate- he's out there on his own -
And if no one will come with me,
I'll have to go alone;
The fog could last a week or so, we know they
often do -
And Harry is a hillman -he'd do the same for you."
guess in everybody's life there is a time of shame;
An hour or a day or
night, a dawn we all could name.
I've had my share, I'll not deny -
could life revolve again -
There'd be some things I'd like to change to
clear away the stain.
Maybe that's why I took the steps to stand by
Maybe that's why just he and I, without the sun to
Climbed out beyond the breakneck Bluff and under Ogre
Where, led on by a dog's bark, found the one we'd come to
And he was hurt, but he had hollowed snow out to the
He'd gathered his old heading dog and huntaways
They'd covered him and kept him warm and fought away the
And frostbite and exposure, through the long night on the
We carried him and dragged him, we pushed and pulled and
We stumbled though the snowfields, through a thousand drifts or
Through the gullies aqnd the basins to the welcome home and
Where the weary grin he gave out was reward enough for
It's hot here in the bar tonight -flames lick the old
The liquor sets my blood alight within my heart and
There's a woman smiling at me and my world is quite
Lifes a mixture - there's atonement after all for times
By Blue Jeans
Let the World Come to Me
An old mate took off and flew round the girth
Of the globe, and he
saw all the sights of this earth.
He said to me why don't you leave old
But I said I'll stay here - let the world come to me.
I stayed and I've seen it all here in my time.
I've met them and set
them down into rhyme,
Where the snowy peaks reach to Otago's blue
In the land that I love, as the years drift on by.
the givers and takers and the Aussies and Yanks
Heart breakers, horse
breakers and con-men and cranks.
I've met hippies who sucked in the old
Liars and tryers, the rich and the broke.
curlers and brawlers with stories to tell
Boozers and losers all
heading for hell.
Ramblers and gamblers in search of first
Islanders, Highlanders, follish and wise.
winners and sinners, the Irish and Jews
Fellows with earrings, and
girls with tattoos.
Fellows with handbags and strippers and
Badmen and madmen and artists with paints.
and drovers have all been my mates,
And musterers into a tanker of
Singers and writers who sought to be stars
pickers of country guitars.
And once I met someone who entered my
Her wide magic eyes made me hers from the start.
To wake in
her arms was like Heaven must be -
I wonder tonight is she thinking of
But dreamers and schemers, they've all had my ear,
go to the moon on a belly of beer.
And sometimes I think was it right
to stay home
'Might have been much more restful if I'd gone on the
By Blue Jeans
Once it was a good word
You could use it every day
If you sang
the Swanee River
Then your heart was young and gay
The cowboy on the prairie
He was wild, carefree and gay
band played Gay Gordons
You could dance the night away
I think it somewhat awful
That a funny bloke or two
Could take a
happy, laughing word
And turn it all askew
If they ever come down our way
They had better bring their
There'll be no Hero Parade in Naseby
Where the hill men all
by Blue Jeans
They're changing the style of the pubs in the land,
to make each one look like the Grand.
From Queenstown to Kyeburn it's
With wall to wall carpet across the bar floor.
There's wining and dining and neon and chrome,
And the comforts are
better than those back at home.
And oysters and cray are the counter
To a band or the TV in an old country pub.
The high country musterer now takes off his boots
And spurs, and
refrains from language that pollutes.
While the tired greasy shearer
must shower and scrub,
Before he can drink in the old country
Old Jackie the rabbiter came for a drink,
His clothes - blood and
guts - bore a terrible stink.
As an escort for blow flies he was the
And a dog or two followed him into the pub.
But Freddie the publican dropped in a faint,
And a tourist from
Sydney turned green with the taint.
So Jack jumped in his jeep and took
off for the scrub-
Now he's making home brew in an old copper
Mixed drinking means changes a man cannot flout
For swilling and
swearing and fighting are out,
While spitting or throwing a cigarette
On the floor is taboo in an old country pub.
The top dressing pilot, the plumber and "Chips"
The pensioner, in
for a couple of nips,
Will soon need a reference like some high-toned
Before they can drink at the old country pub.
Nero - died aged 42
When dusk starts to climb up the ridges at night,
To massage the
mountains to sleep,
It's often I think of time and the days,
mustered the back runs for sheep.
And tonight around the Tailings and
Blue Duck, I know
That another ghost walks the hillside
To join in
that last phantom muster of all,
The last of the mule train has
They called him Old Nero - among other things -
offended his ears.
One of the famed Kyeburn Station mule train
carried the hill gear for years.
He packed in the tucker, the blankets
and the beer,
With his kind, to the huts further out,
But only the
men who depended on them will know what I'm talking about.
They'll remember with pleasure those hardy old mules,
affection, the tricks that they tried.
They'll remember them slogging
through snow and through heat,
With sweat and dust caked to each
They'll all have some memory deep in their hearts,
couldn't hope ever explain.
But I'd like to pay tribute and hope they
How I still see the Kyeburn mule train.
Then the sky was as clear as the eyes of a child -
Then the sunsets
were salmon and jade,
Then the hills rolled away in a dreamtime of
In a contrast of sunlight and shade,
On a track through the
tussock, the scrub and the fern,
Where the air was keen as a
With a back drop of Shingle and snowdrift and sky:
Oh what a
brave picture they made
By Blue Jeans
In the midst of break up parties, end of year and Christmas 'do's
the jovial social drinking, wine and cheese' and barbecues
laughing and the flirting - eys of brown and eyes of blue
meet with mine and linger - don't think I don't think of you.
Ah, the glances and the whispers as the festive functions flow,
the promise and the pleasure and the sinfulness we know.
As the old
year, worn and wearied, hands its burden to the new,
And the new year
takes it bravely - don't think I've forgotten you.
For I see you, in your beauty, with a rainbow as your crest,
crown of virgin snowfall, and the sunshine on your breast,
In your gown
- the greens of nature interlaced with grey and blue,
As you breath a
thousand perfumes - that's how I remember you.
In the dreamy hush of twilight, there is peace across your face,
your foot the fir trees slumber, while , like see-through wisps of
Wreaths of cloud across your shoulder come and go - as day is
The first shining stars to muster make a wonderland of
Man may love a woman dearly, man may love God's lasting grace,
the man who loves a mountain most would find him out of place.
social prides and pleasures turn to ash as such things do,
heart my heart finds solace - don't think I've forgotten you.