In his dreams he remembers the old days,
In a restless heart worn out by time,
And the tales that he’s told of the old Hessle Road
Are now distant and blurred in his mind.
Many days he is glad they’re behind him,
When the past is a journey too long,
When the good and the bad are just memories he’s had
Where he can’t tell the right from the wrong.
He can’t sing a lament for the old days,
Now those fishing days are through.
He won’t sing a lament for the ways that are gone
And the living hell he knew.
There were small cobbled tenfoots and alleys,
He remembers the filth and the grime,
And his ma’s biggest deal was to find the next meal
And the men were all old before time.
There were fathers and sons both together
Would sail out on the early morn’s tide,
And the mothers and wives feared the worst for their lives
And for those that the men left behind.
He remembers the town from the old days,
And the smell of the fish and the sea,
Of the times he was hungry but never let on,
Just one starving mouth more to feed.
He can picture the girls on street corners,
When the men were away at the trawl,
When a few shillings more turned a wife to a whore,
He still can’t make sense of it all.
So don’t ask what he thinks of the old days,
Now bulldozers are changing the land,
If he had the last call he would damn one and all,
And tear down the lot with his hands.
In his dreams he remembers the old days.
This is a contemporary song about Yorkshire.
This song was written by Linda Kelly and the recording is by Hissyfit from the CD, Sweet Minerva.
Linda says, ‘It was written to highlight the very complex nature of life on Hessle Road in the 1940s and 1950s, which her husband experienced as a small child.
On the one hand it was a tight-knit community of fishermen and dockworkers with families experiencing good times and bad, brought together by tragedy and torn apart by social deprivation on a scale we can’t imagine nowadays. A true spirit emerged, a resilience that Hull can truly be proud of. But looking closer another picture also emerges, of workhouse and poverty, of women prepared to do almost anything to feed their children. This was the Hessle Road my husband remembers.’