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The Pensioner’s Complaint

[ Roud 1663 ; Master title: The Pensioner’s Complaint ; Ballad Index PCL68 ; Bodleian Roud 1663 ; trad.]

Tony Rose sang The Pensioner’s Complaint in 1979 at the Nova Scotia Pub in Bristol. This recording was included in his posthumous CD Exe.


Tony Rose sings The Pensioner’s Complaint

Ye neighbours all listen, a story I’ll tell,
’Tis of a misfortune that has me befell:
For I married a wife and her name it was Nell,
She is always a-scolding and bawling.

Oh, it’s eighteen pounds pension I’ve got in a year
Which causes my wife to drink whiskey and beer,
Her tongue like a cannon doth sound in my ear
Before the daylight in the morning.

To kindle the fire it is my first job,
If I don’t do it right I’ve a belt on the gob;
A kick or a clout or a slap on the nob
I surely will get from my darling.

And it’s out for the water the kettle to boil
And when I comes in I must nurse the young child;
Now I wish I had been kill’d on the banks of the Nile
Before I had met with my darling.

For it’s Nell and her gossips sit down for their tea
Whilst I in the corner have nothing to say;
Or it’s out in the garden a-digging away
And Nelly the cups she is tossing.

Oh it’s in for their leavings I chance for to hop
Whilst Nell and her gossips are gone to the shop,
Backbiting their neighbours and swallowing their drops
Hard fortune attend on my darling!

For my shirt without washing doth stick to my back;
She is a-sporting with Billy or Jack
Or running up scores for every nick-knack,
And I must pay out the last farthing.

I’m without shoe or stocking to cover my feet,
My bed is without either blanket or sheet,
I’m a show to the world when I go in the street,
Well, what do you think of my bargain?

Now her beauty and praise I mean to disclose,
She’s dirty and fat with a long runny nose,
A disgrace to the women wherever she goes,
And her clothes all in tatters are hanging.

She’s a beard on her lip, like a wandering jew,
Not a tooth in her head that is sound, only two,
And the shift on her back neither black, white nor blue,
Why, it never was wet with the washing.

I’ve travelled all nations, through France and through Spain,
Through Egypt and India and back home again,
And at Waterloo wounded where I felt great pain,
But I ne’er met the match of my darling.

So to finish my ditty, I formally pray,
Before she drinks any more whiskey or tea,
That something or other may whip her away
Before the daylight in the morning.