A wagon rolled into Kikakro
a sickly sort of yellow.
Pulled up at Rory Ryan's pub,
Out stepped this actor fellow.
He said to Ryan, "I need, my man,
Board, for two nights I’ll be staying.
A room to dress, a hall with stage
Will Shakespeare I’ll be playing.
I shall bring to these simple folk
words from the famous Bard.”
Ryan cocked his head an’ said:
“ Yez can set up in the yard.”
“The yard, my man, I, in the yard ?
You’d have me there prepare?
sonnets, speeches, soliloquy’s.
Good sir, this is not fair.
I am an actor, well renown
Right throughout this state.
I've acted down in Sydney Town
Such tales I could relate.
Sir, I've had many good reviews
My houses were well filled.
I've dined with Bishops, Premiers
and always was top billed.”
Said Ryan: “This is sheep country
an' we've got lots to shear.
We've got no time for actin' shows.
Now I'll make this quite clear.
You've got one night to do yer show,
Then, sport yer out o' here.
Yez'll get five quid an' breakfast.
Yez'll pay for all your beer.”
The actor fellow thought awhile
and then nodded his head.
“Which run is short of shearers
And how far to the shed?
I will not stand on charity
I'll surely earn my keep.
Before I play for you tonight
I'll shear four dozen sheep."
They took him out to Malley’s run
A vast and busy station
Where shearing went all day and night
Good worker boss relations.
It was the biggest of its kind
In Western New South Wales
It left the other runs behind
When sending out the bales.
"I've got my union card," he said,
"I'm no blackleg or scab."
He showed his card to Union Rep
The actor cove with borrowed shears
Started on the ram,
Whizzed through the wethers one b' one,
Forty three and then one lamb.
The boss and gun just shook their heads
"Mate, ‘ave yez done this before?"
"Of course my man," the cove replied,
"Back in eighteen ninety four."
I was a young gun shearer then
When a show troupe came one day.
I was smitten and I joined them all.
In Sydney far away.
Since then I’ve trodden all the boards,
Acting has brought me joy.
But I’ve not forgotten my shearing skills
I learned as a tar boy.
I think my man, that I’ve slowed down.
I’ve shorn just forty four.
Were you to give me one more day,
I’d do three dozen more."
Ryan’s pub was filled that night.
The actor cove did well.
The townsfolk took in every word,
He had them in a spell.
The show went on and finished.
The beer flowed all around.
The actor cove - gun shearer,
Was happy when he left town.
© al mccartan 2003