The Red Jacket Stream

by Chris Hastings and Huw Pudner

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We were digging together
on the banks of the red jacket stream
There was Matthew from Merthyr
Tom Kelly from Clare
And Nathan from Spain
With his wild gypsy hair
We worked on the Tennant
Tramped from Brecon down to Swansea Bay
Slept under canvas
Wrapped in thin blankets
And last summer's hay

We worked all the summer long
On the banks of the red jacket stream
The small beer and malt bitter
Loosened our tongues
Quenched our thirst
It was good to be young
The sweat ran like rivers
As we swung those big hammers down
And I cursed the hard stones
That crushed my poor hands
As we pounded the ground

The winter was cold that year
On the banks of the red jacket stream
The ice froze our breath
The wind blew from the north
And we were close to death
As we followed the course
We shared our very last crust
And we swore we would never return
To the mud and the rocks and the dust
And the banks of the red jacket stream.

The years have ran ahead
From the banks of the red jacket stream
Its quiet here now
Only the sound
Of the wind in the reeds
The work has all gone
And the men have moved on
And yet I still recall
My good friends one and all
Matthew from Merthyr
Tom Kelly from Clare
And Nathan the boy from Spain
With the wild gypsy hair.
Its gone like my dream
But last night we were together again
On the banks of the red jacket stream.
Together again