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Tortoise from Hell

[Les Barker]

Tortoise from Hell is a poem from Les Barker’s book Reign of Terrier

Martin Carthy sang Tortoise from Hell on The Mrs Ackroyd’s 1990 album Oranges and Lemmings.


Martin Carthy sings Tortoise from Hell

Saturday night at the café;
The jukebox played Meatloaf real loud
He was a Hell’s Tortoise;
She was just one of the crowd.

He lived his life in the fast lane;
He looked so hard in his shell,
But he looked at her and he smiled
As she danced to Snail out of Hell.

Chorus (after every other verse):
Running wild, tortoise from hell
Running wild, tortoise from hell

He put down a straight glass of Horlicks.
He said, “Will you come for a ride?”
And he took her away from the music
Into the darkness outside.

And she rode, she rode with a tortoise from hell
On a rollerskate on the A4,
Running wild with the wind in her shell;
But she’ll never ride with him no more.

He daddy said, “Tell him goodbye;
Don’t run around with that breed.
He was just born, born to be wild;
I’ve heard people say that he’s on speed.

He just wants to take you to bed;
Don’t you be fooled by his chat;
He’ll be gone, he’ll be gone in the blink of an eye
Or perhaps a bit longer than that.”

Saturday night at the café;
Sadly she told him goodbye;
He never finished his horlicks;
He left with a tear in his eye.

And it all happened oh so quickly;
A day, a day and a half... he was gone
Out of the door to his rooler skate;
Still crying, he strapped himself on.

They say he lost it near Heston;
The say he rain into a tree.
When they got there, his wheels were still spinning
And, so they say, so was he.

Too late, Too late, she told him the she loved him;
And kissed him each time he came by;
And that night he died, anticlockwise
With an upside down tear in his eye.

They say she still rides all alone
At night with the wind in her shell,
Still living life in the fast lane,
Running wild with her tortoise from hell.


Poem copied from Reigns of Terrier with adaptions to the singing of Martin Carthy by Reinhard Zierke.