Itinerants

A fabulous song from Don Henderson which we recorded twice, once live and once in the studio. Both recordings are lost. Don sent us this song then a few days later rang from Sydney to see what we thought of it. We were in the middle of rehearsing it at the time so we played it to him over the telephone.

   

We were standing in a circle watching pennies fly and fall

This job was done, when the site bus came we'd all be shooting through

The organiser's car pulled up and he said, "G'day!" to all

And turning to a youngster said, "This letter came for you"

On the top it had, "Please Forward" - it had really been around

Four or five crossed out addresses and the union's marked "c/o"

The official said, "Drop your Mum a line!" and the men looked to the ground

For in bum-fluff there, we saw ourselves ten or fifteen years ago

   

Now it often seems to happen when a family is in need

And the eldest son can't get a job, no matter how he tries

The lad gets round to thinking that with one less mouth to feed

The others might do better on what Dad's pay packet buys

After asking round the billiard hall hearing mates say mates of theirs

Found work up north where juniors earn the same wage as a man

His  favourite  books and records are sold for food and fares

And the note left on the dresser says he'll send back what he can

   

Haven't you blokes got a home to go to?

The publican is calling time - then he'll call the law

The magistrate you tell your tale of woe to

Won't be impressed. You might have guessed he's heard it all before

  

Sometimes the first knockback sorts the men out from the boys

And most go home before what little cash they have is gone

But a typical example of the bloke this game employs

Knows from the start that he's gonna do a lot of shifting on

The work we do is casual, the term of contract short

When one job ends another starts up in some distant town

You just begin to like a place and it's time to pack your port

And the easier moving on becomes the harder settling down

  

We're the men they call on when the project's of a scale

That the locals can't handle it in numbers or in skills

Drilling platforms, hydro schemes, trans-continental rail

Bridges and bulk loaders, processing plants and mills

We're the daily labour that turns up at the site

The here and gone inhabitants of big construction camps

The extra shift that, floodlit, chases schedules through the night

We call ourselves Itinerants, the locals call us tramps

  

These are our last pay packets and it's time we all depart

If there's nothing big on for a while, shutdowns will see us through

And even new chums this time will be veterans next start

So we just say "See you later", knowing each job claims a few

So we're playing up a bit to bid this town farewell

Washing down a friendly beer with double O.P. rums

If the publican calls time again, we'll wreck his damned hotel

And we'll all have disappeared before the paddy wagon comes