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Bill 'Awkins

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

Bill 'Awkins is a poem from Rudyard Kipling's book Barrack-Room Ballads. Peter Bellamy sang it as a duet with Chris Birch on his third album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Peter Bellamy Sings the Barrack-Room Ballads of Rudyard Kipling. This track was also included on his Free Reed anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes. Peter Bellamy commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Another Question/Answer song, but of a somewhat different character [than Danny Deever], more redolent of the cheeky 'alls than the Grand Tradition. I have composed for it a tune of at least equal splendour and dignity. Ahem. (This ballad was composed later than the others, and appeared in Kipling's second volume of Poetry, The Seven Seas, in 1896.)

Peter Bellamy and Keith Marsden re-recorded the song in 1990 for Bellamy's privately issued cassette Soldiers Three.


“'As anybody seen Bill 'Awkins?”
    “Now 'ow in the devil would I know?”
“Well 'e's taken my girl out walkin',
    An' I've got to tell 'im so—
    I've got to tell 'im so.”

“D'yer know what 'e's like, Bill 'Awkins?”
    “Now what in the devil would I care?”
“Well 'e's the livin', breathin' image of an organ-grinder's monkey,
    With a pound of grease in 'is 'air—
    An' a pound o' grease in 'is 'air.”

“An' s'pose you met Bill 'Awkins,
    Now what in the devil 'ud ye do?”
“Why, I'd open 'is cheek to 'is chin-strap buckle,
    An' bung up 'is both eyes, too—
    An' bung up 'is both eyes, too!”

“Look 'ere, where 'e comes, Bill 'Awkins!
    Now what in the devil will you say?”
“Well it ain't fit an' proper to be fightin' on a Sunday,
    So I'll pass 'im the time o' day—
    I'll pass 'im the time o' day!”