When the war came: Movement 2: Work

I didn’t want to paint a picture of pre-war England as too idyllic; I’m sure life in a small village like this was pretty tough. So this is a tough song. I hope it is realistic. I like the little sister’s head bobbing up and down among the uncut corn as she brings lunch.

Jools has brilliantly set it to a very lively folk-song kind of rhythm which works really well, stops it being too melancholy, and  provides a lovely contrast to the tender nostalgia of  Long Ago.

SONG TWO: LONG AGO: WORK

 

NARRATOR

 

Life at the mill was hard. But the pay was enough. And us lads were all together. We still managed to have a bit of a laugh here and there.

 

ALL BOYS

 

The sky is dark.

The dawn is sharpening the wind

My feet are clumsy; stiff with sleep.

 

I am so tired.

 

Inside the mill

We shiver out of coats and scarves

We start our work; our fingers yawn.

 

We are so tired.

 

Will I be here

Pushing this handle in the gloom

Will I be here

Through all the summer days to come?

 

The sky is dark.

The dawn is sharpening the wind

My feet are clumsy; stiff with sleep.

 

I am so tired.

 

NARRATOR

 

At least the girls were outside, in the sunshine. But their work was unrelenting too. Especially that summer – so long, so hot..

 

 ALL GIRLS

 

The sun is up.

My back is bending in the heat

My fingers pull the stubborn husks.

 

I am so tired.

 

I stretch my arms.

Across the field my sister bobs

The pasty warm inside her hand.

 

We are so tired.

 

We work until we cannot see the corn

We work until our hands are torn

 

The sun is up.

My back is bending in the heat

My fingers pull the stubborn husks.

 

I am so tired.

Boys and girls

 

The day’s work never seems to end

We are so tired.

 

NARRATOR

 

We thought that things would go on like this for ever.. that nothing would ever change.. that there would be no more to our world.. no wide horizons.. no surprises. We might get married.. have kids.. buy a cottage one day.. But always here, in the same village.

 We were happy enough with that, but..

It’s hard, when you’re young, not to want a bit of change. A bit of adventure…

 But then it came.

 It wasn’t what we thought that it would be.

 

SONG ONE: (reprise) LONG AGO

 

BOYS AND GIRLS

 

I can remember how it was

The day we heard.

When we heard that change was coming

Coming right here to the village

Come to take us and to break us

Long ago.

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