The Working Chap

Melody -

I'm a working chap as you may see,
You'll find an honest lad in me;
I'm neither haught, mean nor proud,
Nor ever tak's the thing too rude.
I never gang abune my means,
Nor seek assistance frae my frien's,
But day and nicht thro' thick and thin,
I'm workin' life oot to keep life in.

Nae matter, frien's, whate'er befa'
The puir folks they maun work ava,
Thro' frost and snaw and rain and wind,
They're workin' life oot to keep life in.
  The puir needle-woman that we saw,
In reality, and on the wa',
A picture sorrowful to see,
I'm sure wi' me you'll a' agree;
Her pay's scarce able to feed a mouse,
Far less to keep hersel' and house,
She's naked, hungry, pale and thin,
Workin' life oot to keep life in.

Don't ca' a man a drunken sot
Because he wears a ragged coat;
It's better far, mind, don't forget,
To rin in rags than rin in debt.
He may look seedy, very true,
But still his creditors are few;
And he toddles on devoid of sin,
Workin' life oot to keep life in.

But maybe, frien's, I've stayed ower lang,
But I hope I hae said naething wrang;
I only merely want to show
The way the puir folk hae to go.
Just look at a man wi' a housefu' o' bairns,
To rear them up it tak's a' he earns,
Wi' a willin' heart and a coat gey thin,
He's workin' life oot to keep life in.

It is only rarely that the bothy songs essay a direct sociological comment and when the attempt is made, the result is not usually a happy one. The Working Chap is reminiscent of the style found in the writings of the 'fustian philosophers' who helped to pioneer the British socialist movement, "The puir needle-woman on the wa' . . .'' mentioned in the second verse, is a reference to the once ubiquitous daguerretype inspired by Thomas Hood's 'The Song of the Shirt'.

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