The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #86925   Message #1619726
Posted By: Abby Sale
04-Dec-05 - 08:01 AM
Thread Name: happy? – Dec 4 (The Bricklayer)
Subject: happy? – Dec 4 (The Bricklayer)
In one of those world-shattering, milestone Happenings,
Gerard Hoffnung recited "The Bricklayer" to The Oxford Union Society
on 4th Dec 1958

[thanx John Price]

The song version of it was written entirely by Pat Cooksey in 1969 titled "The Sick Note."   see Mudcat on Cooksey ] and/or Cooksey on Cooksey

Versions come down to us sung as Paddy and the Barrel, Paddy and the Rope, Paddy and the Bricks, The Bricklayer's Song, Murphy and the Bricks, Brendan and the Bricks, The Excuse Note, Why Paddy's not at Work Today, Dear Boss, The Barrel Song, The Sick Letter, Why Yassir's not at Work Today, Paddy's Excuse.

(I think it may enter the rolls as one of the most-titled songs out there having only one actual version. Well, not always the same verses but really only one version.)

Completely without his permission, I quote Sam Hinton's historic comments:

"By the time Gerard Hoffnung read his incomparably funny "sick letter", the story was well-established as a sort of urban legend. It was generally cited as an actual letter that had been received by some government agency, and I remember reading it somewhere around 1937. In 1940 it appeared in READER'S DIGEST as an actual letter supposed to have been received by a naval officer from an enlisted man who was explaining why he had overstayed his leave;. this story had the victim working on a silo on his parents' farm. Some of the versions have the victim asking for compensation for 6 accidents--1. Striking the barrel as it descended and the bricklayer ascended; 2. Hitting the pulley wheel; 3. Hitting the barrel again on the way down; 4. Falling onto the broken bricks; 5. Hit by bricks falling from the barrel when its bottom burst against the pulley wheel; and 6. Hit by the free-falling barrel.

In any event, the story itself originated with neither Gerard Hoffnung nor Pat Cooksey, but both deserve a tremendous amount of credit for putting it into succinct form. The Cooksey version, by the way, is sung to a traditional Irish tune, "In the Garden Where the Praties Grow". Hoffnung's delivery, pretending that this was a letter received by the national health service, is a magnificent example of perfect timing, and I practically roll on the floor every time I play my tape of it. In my own concerts, the Cooksey version is one of my most-requested numbers."

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky