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Ballad of Alfie Hinds

[David Houlton]

This song about escape king and public hero Alfie Hind—nicknamed “The British Houdini”—was sung by Martin Carthy live at the pilot programme for the Hullaballo TV series in 1964. It was included in 2001 on the anthology The Carthy Chronicles.

Lyrics

Now most people, they are willing
Some are young and some are old
To pity poor old Alfie Hinds
The man they cannot hold

Now he blew up a safe in Maples
In nineteen-fifty-three
The Judge says Alf was guilty
But Alf did not agree

So he dived out through a canal
In nineteen-fifty-five
And he hopped on a plane to Old Ireland
And there he did survive

But they caught him building houses
In nineteen-fifty-six
And they carted him back to Old England
To pay for all of his tricks

Now, one day at the Old Bailey
He caught a great How-do-you-do
He shot against two policemen
And locked them in the loo

But they caught him down at Bristol
The papers gave him fame
But after a year the warder yelled
Oh Gawd, he's gone again

Yes, he disappeared completely
Vanished from the fold
Three cheers for good old Alfie Hinds
The man they cannot hold

But at last on one day in Belfast
They caught him flogging cars
And with gas and chains and tommy-guns
put Alf back behind bars

Now everyone is wondering
If his story has finally been told
Or will he flit away again
He's the man they cannot hold