FOREST OF OAKS....a very poetic song....reflects on the Bog Oaks, those semi-fossilised, giant tree trunks now emerging from the shrinking peatlands. And on the memories of a long-serving, Fenland Churchwarden here in Over.
By popular request, the words of a few of our songs
FEN TIGER and THE QUARRYMAN
Walkin' down the drove of a dark black fen I heard an ancient voice: "You're walkin' on my grave in the dark black fen; so, stranger, hear my voice! "I lived in the fens, and I lived free; then lawmen came and captured me. "Alive, alive they buried me. I fought with tooth and claw, and they called me "Fen Tiger! Oh, Fen Tiger! Ho, Fen Tiger!
"Passing easy laws in the greedy town, they never heard our voice! "They schemed to drain the land that God had drowned...Never ever heard our voice! "When they built a wall, we'd knock it down! Ditch or dyke or dam, we'd turn them round! "Smash each windmill to the ground! We fought with tooth and claw, and they called me "Fen Tiger! Oh, Fen Tiger! Ho, Fen Tiger!
"Living in The Fens was harsh and real; every season brought its pains and joys - "Plover, duck, and pike, and the marshland eel...the colour of the Fenland sky! "We took from Nature what Nature gave: the rest we'd save; "Just enough, no more we'd crave! Steward of the Waterland, they called me "Fen Tiger! Oh, Fen Tiger! Ho, Fen Tiger!
"Never take for granted what Life's about..... disappear so fast! "I warned there'd be trouble if the land dried out.....disappear so fast! "I saw it all, how they changed The World! Trees all shrivelled, with their dead leaves curled! "The land was dust and the dust all swirled! They cursed it as 'The Fen Blow, and they called me "Fen Tiger! Oh, Fen Tiger!Ho, Fen Tiger!"
So I spoke to The Spirit who would talk with Men: "Tiger, I hear your voice! "I quarry out the gravel 'neath the dark, black fen: Tiger, I'll be your voice! "When we finish our job, we'll do your wish - We'll open up the sluice with a swirl and a swish - "Once again, a home for fowl and fish - We're filling up The Fen again, filling up The Fen, "Fen Tiger! Oh, Fen Tiger! Ho, Fen Tiger!"
THE MILL ROAD WINTER FAIR
There were tears in her eyes as she tried to tell the story/ Of a moment, just a moment, of tender, loving care, When a man said "Share my feast! Share my table, Brother Abel! "All are welcome, Oh so welcome at the Mill Road Winter Fair!"
Now, Mill Road is a road that is not like any other;/ Quite unique, oh more uniquer than Cambridge Town elsewhere! Then someone said, "Let's celebrate our Lives of Variation!" Thus was born, oh thus was born The Mill Road Winter Fair.
Plans were made, and notices were posted;/ Neighbour talked to neighbour - that's how they spread The Word! Things to see and things to do - a host of fine attractions.... Lots to taste and eat and drink from all around The World....
There'd be dancers and performers, bands of drummers and folk-singers,/ Story-tellers telling stories, weaving dreams from words of air; And the churches mosques and synagogues would throw their doors wide open To say "Welcome! All so welcome! Praise The Mill Road Winter Fair!"
However, when you organize you quickly come to realize/ that Nothing, oh no Nothing can escape that Old Sod's Law! Except, perhaps when someone breaks the Rules of Expectation, Sharing Love, Showing Love....True Word of One God's Law!
So it was! The Mill Road Fair was ready. But "Licence? Where's The Licence for the Jewish Fine Food stall?" Oh, she was in a panic, for The Jews would be excluded! "No problem!" says this Muslim lad..."Please share my humble store......"
There were tears in her eyes as she told me of this story/ Of a moment, just a moment of tender, loving care... When a man said "Share my feast! Share my table, Brother Abel! "All are welcome! Oh, so welcome.... At The Mill Road Winter Fair.......!"
THE GEORGE CROSS MEN OF SOHAM FEN
Every day's an anniversary for somebody, somewhere - I've got one to tell you of... 'Forty-Four...Nineteen Forty-Four... Second day of June it was......In the night.
Benjamin Gimbert and James Nightall - Railwaymen of wartime, pulling mighty heavy loads... 'Forty-Four...Nineteen Forty-Four... Second day of June it was......In the night.
Slow, oh slow from the marshalling yards; Strain and weight on each axle and wheel... On into the darkness of silent Fenland.... Steel rolling on steel...
The little town of March was left behind - Shovel down to Ely....stopping for a red light... Forty four wagons, forty four.... Full of high explosive .......In the night.
"Go on," said the green light - To Soham Town, where everyone is sleeping - safe and sound as houses... Four-O Four, Four-O, Forty Four - full of high explosive.....In the night.
"FIRE! A FLAME! We've got trouble, my Lad! Wagon Number One's going to blow! "You'd better get down - unhitch the other forty three....or else there's only one Soham will go....!"
Benjamin Gimbert and James Nightall pulled that burning wagon - waiting for the Big Bang! Hundred yards....just a hundred yards!.... Enough to save three and forty wagons that night!
Stationmaster Bridges was killed outright! Fireman Nightall gave his life for Soham! Herbert Clarke did his duty as Guard! But what of Driver Gimbert on that night?
Fly! Fly high! His whole body flew high!....Human angel filled with glass, steel and stone! God knows how, he lived to tell the tale!....Gentle giant who saved a town!
Every day's an anniversary for somebody, somewhere....I've got one to tell you of.... 'Forty-Four...Nineteen Forty-Four.....Second day of June it was.............In the night......
OLIVER CROMWELL - WARTS AND ALL
Born 1599 - died 1658 A man of Huntingdon, St Ives, Ely and Cambridge..and The Fens. Only person to be "President of the British Republic", so to speak. Opinions about him differ hugely. He was supposed to have told the artist to paint him as a real person ..."warts and all". A quick web-search will show you The Cromwell Society, and The Sealed Knot for a start....
refrain You who paint my picture paint it warts and all! / Let the people see 'The Man' I am, warts and all! "We want you for your leader!" came their voice and call! / "Oliver Cromwell...Warts And All!"
1) Was there ever such a time as the days are now / When friend is foe and foe is friend? Nobody knows if Tomorrow is the day that The World shall end; / You've got to take whatever God may send you...
2) Downcast, depressed, depraved with sin, / I felt the God Without come and shine within; Though low of birth was I, He held my hand, / Raised me up to rule this land...oh..
3) Bitter was the day they sent me overseas; / "You've got to bring Ireland to its knees!" With history and hindsight, who on Earth can tell / What I did there may have sent me down to Hell...oh...
4) From little country town to The World's great stage, / They say I was The Chief of Men in an age When King met steel and The Crown then fell..../Necessity like winter frost...hard and cruel...
5) If a man is true of heart, what he says is good to heed; / If he's certain in his heart, he'll be certain in his deed; Woe unto he who would twist and break his word, / But Joy to the plain man! ( clap) Let his word be heard!...
Hobson was a horse-stable owner and carter who lived in Cambridge in the 1600s. If you wanted to rent a horse from him, he would offer you the horse that was nearest to the door....thereby keeping the horses in strict rotation. If you didn't like the look of your horse...."Well..." he'd say..."Take it or leave it!" Hobson was a well-known character, and his saying found its way into the world of English idioms.
Master Hobson, can we hire a horse?/ It's gotta be your strongest and best! We got us a gig down in London Town;/The steed must be zippy, full of zest! He gave me a look! He gave me a smile!/ I can still hear Hobson's Voice Saying,"Take it or leave it! Nearest nag to the door!" So all we got was HOBSON'S CHOICE!