Joe spoke no English but he had a dream
And he saved up most of his pay
To bring his wife and six kids from Lebanon
And settle down here to stay
You could feel the prison of his loneliness
'Cause he wouldn't see them for years
He kept brandy behind the compressed air tanks
And he gulped it when the coast was clear
Nick the Greek collected tropical fish
But he had to be a character too
So he smuggled in piranha just to break the law
And he fed 'em on kangaroo
Bob's pride was his handlebar moustache
And he said he still combed out sand
He pushed a tank through the Western Desert
So they made him the leading hand
And the summer night shifts were long and cool
And Charlie chain-smoked cigars
Young David sweated in his speckled paint mask
As he gazed out at the stars...
Crazy Charlie was a Yugoslav
His old straight-eight Chevvy could move
His ambition was live on a hippy commune
When Dave told him about free love...
Fred had been a farmer and a heavyweight champ
He had hands like a stump-jump plough
He'd moved the earth with a thrust of his arm
He was loading on the paintline now
And the boys made a noise every Friday night
At the bar of the Hilton Hotel
Downing pints and chewing the fat
'Til the ten o'clock closing bell...
It was only rumour 'til the foreman came
And hiding his shame with a cough
He said 'They're cutting back down to one shift now..
they're going to have to lay you off..."
Joe held his gaze and gulped a brandy
And spat it out at his feet
Bob stood bolt-still looking thunderstruck
Nick swore for an hour in Greek...
But their anger was spent in a rush of fire
And then smouldered out of mind
When they shook hands on that last grey day
Each was in his way resigned
And a few days later I saw old Joe
And he looked like he'd aged ten years
Drunk on the tiles of the Stag Hotel
And he couldn't hold back the tears
Fred'd talked of his gruelling heavyweight bouts
I remembered what he'd said
"There's no giving up on that killing floor
If you don't fight you're dead..."
If you work with your hands for you livelihood
Some day you might have to choose
When the class war rages on the factory floor
If you don't fight you lose...
If you don't fight you lose....