TOLD BY THE STEEPLEJACK
by
Walter Stanford
No, my hair hasn't always been pink, sir 
It was once of a rich purple hue 
But it's colour got changed on account, sir, 
Of a terrible thing I went through 

Will I tell you the story?... With pleasure 
It's now only twenty to four 
This train don't get in till 3.30 
So we've still got the best part of an hour. 

Well, for seventeen years, man and boy, sir, 
I've followed my trade, you must know 
I'm a steeplejack, in the employment 
Of 'Weathercock, Faker & Co'. 

It's an unhealthy life that we lead, sir, 
A-climbing up steeples and shafts 
For up at the top there, you see, sir, 
We are so exposed to the draughts. 

And then, there is always the danger 
Of falling down hundreds of feet 
Which, I needn't remind you, of course, sir, 
Is by no means a Sunday School treat. 

Some three years ago I was working 
One hot summer's day in July 
A sharpening the lightning conductor 
On a chimney three hundred feet high 

I got through the job pretty quickly 
And was just a-preparing to stop 
When I took a fat-headed motion 
To stand on my head on the top. 

So I climbed up the lightning-conductor 
And was just glancing-like round the place 
When I felt the whole jigger go swaying 
Then bend down and hang over space. 

The shock made me let go my hold, sir, 
But by some miraculous chance 
Two spikes of the lightning-conductor 
Got fouled in the seat of my pants 

There I hung like a fowl on a spit, sir, 
With sweat running down me in streaks 
And I saw my whole life pass before me 
As I thought of the age of my breeks.

There was only one thing gave me hope, sir, 
Or I should have fainted I'm sure 
Those pants had been patched up with sail-cloth 
Some two or three evenings before. 

I bawled like the dickens at first, sir, 
But very soon altered my mind 
For each time I let out a yell, sir, 
The stitches went cracking behind. 

Besides, sir, a-yelling was useless 
I was working alone, sir, you see 
And there wasn't a soul in the fact'ry 
As dared have come up there to me. 

So I swung, with my blood fairly frozen 
Though the day was oppressively warm
And to add to my perilous plight, sir, 
I saw we were in for a storm. 

The sky became blacker and blacker 
And then with an ear-splitting sound 
The tempest burst forth in its fury 
And lightning blazed fitfully round!

If it only once struck the conductor 
I knew all was up with me 
And there'd be a missus whose husband 
Would never get home for his tea. 

But, thank Heavens! in a few minutes 
The storm was all over and gone 
And a gentle wind blew from the East, sir, 
While the earth sparkled bright in the sun. 

And then, in the sky I saw something 
And hope in my breast bubbled strong 
'Twas a rainbow a-coming my way, sir, 
The breeze, you see, blew it along. 

Sir, you can't imagine my feelings 
That rainbow gets near and more near 
Will it come close enough to get hold of? 
No - yes - no - yes - yes! It is here. 

I made one desperate grab, sir, 
Believe me it's true what I say 
As I got both my arms round it 
The last stitch behind me gave way.

Then, round it I curled my legs lightly 
And down of that rainbow I slid 
As I'd done down the bannisters often, 
At home, sir, when I was a kid. 

I hung on the end for a moment 
Then, seeing a dustcart below 
I thought, "Here's a soft thing to fall on." 
Then loosened my hold and let go. 

I climbed from the cart and invited 
The driver to come for a drink 
And 'twas then, in the bar, I discovered 
My ringlets had faded to pink. 

Yes, it's true I've had offers from Barnum's 
They've been round to see me beside 
They'd give me good money, I know, sir, 
But there - I've my family pride.  
The end