COP26: What’s This?

November 2021 saw the global climate talks known as COP26 held in Glasgow.

The COP26 Coalition organised decentralised mass mobilisations across the world, bringing together movements to build power for system change – from indigenous struggles to trade unions, from racial justice groups to youth strikers.

This is my contribution. he words are by Steve “Protest Family” White and I set them to a tune of my own devising. It was great to go some collaborative songwriting like that, and great to have such a great songwriter as Steve on tap to call on!

I was also pleased with the edit in the “It’s a Wonderful World” introduction.

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Then as part of the day of action I was privileged to perform the song in Barkers Pool Sheffield…

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COP26, what’s this?
COP26, what’s it gonna fix?
COP26, just more politics
And we’re running out of time.

This flooding is brought to you by Microsoft
This wildfire by Sainsbury’s and our friends at Sky
This drought by Unilever and some others we forgot
We’re saving the planet
One multinational at a time

Your speech is sponsored by “blah, blah, blah”
Your blind eye by corporate environmental crime
It’s greenwash, we know what you are
You’re not saving the planet
And were running out of time

You’ve got the tarmac, but we’ve got the glue
You’re stuck on the motorway, and we’re stuck on it too
You can stick your air source heat pump scheme,
‘Cos that just will not do
You’ve got the tarmac,
but we make the glue!

Pity the Downtrodden Landlord

Written by Fred Hellerman and dedicated to my previous landlord Lee and Amelia Hall, who having had more then £100K out of us over ten years and subsequently selling the property for more than half a million quid refused to give us the deposit back because they wanted us to pay for dry cleaning the curtains and rehanging the doors.

They did get seventy quid back becasue I had hung pictures on the walls. I hope they don’t choke on it.

Please open your hearts and your purses,
To a man who is misunderstood.
He gets all the kicks and the curses,
Though he wishes you nothing but good.
Well he wistfully begs you to show him,
You think he’s a friend, not a louse.
So remember the debt that you owe him,
The landlord who lends you his house.

So pity the downtrodden landlord,
And his back that is burdened and bent.
Respect his grey hairs,
Don’t ask for repairs,
And don’t be behind with the rent!

Now, you’re able to work for a living,
And rejoice in your strength and your skill,
So try to be kind and forgiving,
To a man whom a day’s work would kill.
You can work and still talk to your neighbors,
You can look the whole world in the face.
But the landlord who ventured to labor,
Would never survive the disgrace.

When thunder clouds gather and darken,
You can sleep undisturbed in your bed;
But the landlord must sit up and hearken,
And shiver and wonder and dread;
If you’re killed, then you die in a hurry,
And you never will know your bad luck,
But the landlord is shaking with worry,
“Has one of my houses been struck?”

Now when a landlord resorts to eviction,
Don’t think that he does it for spite;
He is acting from deepest conviction,
And what’s right, after all, is what’s right.
But I see that your hearts are all hardened,
And I fear I’m appealing in vain;
Yet I hope my last plea will be pardoned,
If I beg on my knees once again.


My banjo arrangment of the song Palestine by Jim Page. Find out more about Jim here – I’ll tell you a story, make it clear as I can About the far away troubles in the holy land Pictures of the children etched in your mind Layin’ down their bodies …

Jolly Old Christmas

Featuring Steve White & the Protest Family on “No!!”. A prime slice of Leslie Sarony silliness from 1932.   Christmas only comes along to see us once a year So we’re feeling very gay and hearty Everyone is dressed up in their brand new Sunday gear And everybody has a …

They’re Beginning to Notice Me!

They’re Beginning to Notice Me is a Music Hall song written by Murray and Leigh in 1899 and sung by George “Prime Minister of Mirth” Robey.The banjo part is from the song as it appered in Sheards 7th Banjo Album which you can download here: I think it’s interesting …

The Labouring Man

My banjo arrangment of a traditional English song I heard on a Critics Group album.

The song dates from around the time of the Napoleonic Wars but it’s central message hasn’t aged a day. You can read more about the song here –

You Englishmen of each degree,
A moment listen unto me:
From day to day you all may see
The poor are frowned on by degree.
To please you all I do intend,
So listen to the lines I’ve penned;
By them, you know who never can
Do without the labouring man.

In former days, you all must know,
The poor man cheerful used to go.
Quite clean and neat, upon my life,
With his children and his darling wife.
And for his labour it was said,
A fair day’s wages he was paid.
But now to live he hardly can—
May God protect the labouring man.

There is one thing we must confess,
When England find they’re in a mess,
And has to face the daring foe,
Unto the labouring men they go
To fight their battles, understand,
Either on sea or on the land;
Deny the truth we never can,
They call upon the labouring man.

Some for soldiers they will go,
And jolly sailors do we know,
To guard Old England day and night,
And for their country boldly fight.
But when they do return again
They’re looked upon with great disdain;
Now in distress throughout the land
You may behold the labouring man.

When Bonaparte and Nelson too,
And Wellington at Waterloo.
Were fighting both by land and sea,
The poor man gained these victories!
Their hearts are cast in honour’s mould,
The sailors and the soldiers bold.
And every battle, understand
Was conquered by the labouring man.

The labouring man will plough the deep,
Till the ground and sow the wheat,
Fight the battles when afar,
Fear no dangers or a scar;
But still they’re looked upon like thieves
By them who bide at home at ease,
And everyday throughout the land
They try to starve the labouring man.

Now if wars should rise again,
And England be in want of men
They’ll have to search the country round
To find the lads that plough the ground,
Then to some foreign land they’ll go
To fight and dub the daring foe;
Do what they will, do what they can,
They can’t do without the labouring man.

When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire

When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire is a music hall song written by Harry Wincott in 1893, and is most associated with Harry Champion. It’s also become a real folk club Standard.

I’ve arranged it for banjo playing in a two-finger thumb lead style. The banjo is my mid nineteen-thirties Clifford Essex Clipper, strung with nylon strings and tuned to fCFAC which is open G but tuned down by two frets.

Some pals and I in a public house
Was playing dominoes one night
When all of a sudden in the potman runs
With a face all chalky white
‘What’s up?’ said Jones ‘Why you silly old fool,
Or have you seen old Aunt Mariah?’
‘Me Aunt be buggered,’ then the potman cried
‘The bleeding pubs on fire.’

‘On fire!’ said Brown, ‘What a bit of luck!
Come along with me ‘ shouts he.
‘Down in the cellar, if the fire ain’t there,
We’ll have a fair old spree.’
So we all goes down ‘long with good old Brown
The booze we couldn’t miss,
And we hadn’t been there ten minutes or more
When we was just like this.

And there was Brown, upside down
Licking up the whiskey off the floor
‘Booze, Booze, ‘ then the firemen cried
As they came knocking at the door
‘Don’t let ’em in till it’s all mopped up’
Someone said to Mackintyre
So we all got blue blind, paralytic drunk
When the old Dun Cow caught fire.

Old Johnson flew to a port wine tub
And he gave it just a few hard knocks
He then starts taking off his pantaloons
Likewise his shoes and socks
‘Hold hard’ said Brown, ‘If you want to wash your feet
There’s a barrel full of four ale here
Don’t put your trotters in the port wine Jack
When there’s more old stale beer’

Just then there was such a dreadful crash
Half the bloody roof gave way
We were almost drowned with a fireman’s hose
But still we were all gay.
For we found some sacks, and some old tin tacks
Shoved ourselves inside
And we sat there getting bleary-eyed drunk
When the old Dun Cow caught fire
At last the fireman got inside
And found us all dead drunk
But like true heroes there they stood
They did not do a bunk
They saw the booze upon the floor
And gave a sudden yell
They took their helmets off and then
Upon their knees they fell.

‘At last! At last!’ the firemen cried
‘At last we know the news’
‘Come on! Come on! ‘ us lads all cried
‘Come on and have a booze.’

Jazzbo’s Holiday

A splendid piece of English ragtime written by Tarrant Bailey Junior in 1927.

Played by Russ Chandler (banjo) and Simon Armstrong (guitar).

Changes by Alan Price

This is my arrangment of the song “Changes” written by Alan Price as part of the sountrack to the 1973 movie “O Lucky Man!” directed by Lindsey Anderson and starring Malcolm McDowell.

It’s set to the old Salvation Army tune “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”.

Everyone is going through changes
No one knows what’s going on
And everybody changes places
But the world still carries on

Love must always change to sorrow
And everyone must play the game
Here today and gone tomorrow
But the world goes on the same