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The Hard-Up Tree

As the years roll away,
In my mind's eye I see,
Like a monument standing,
An old rugged tree.

And so there it stood,
For a century or more,
If it had ears that could listen,
What tales it could store!.

Not very beautiful,
But shady and green,
At the crossroads 'twas standing,
In the village of Bream.

I'll tell you a story,
How this oak got it's name,
By standing there silent,
The old tree achieved fame.

The name that was given,
Was the "Old Hard-Up Tree",
Why this it was called
Is quite easy to see.

To this tree in the centre,
Men came one by one,
To squat at its roots
To shade from the sun.

Twas during the thirties,
When depression was rife,
Short time in the pits,
But accepted as life.

A long walk to Lydney,
To sign on the dole;
Three times in a week
Destroying their souls.

And back to the tree,
To sit on its roots.
With patches on knees,
Yes, holes in their boots.

Perhaps they'd a tanner,
To put on a nag.
To relieve the monotony-
Then smoke the last fag.

Just sixpence each way,
And if any to come,
Then a bit up and down,
Seemed to add to the fun.

Many Governments elected,
Wars both lost and won,
Who would win the next Test Match?
Who would score the most runs?.

There'd been horses and carts,
And wagonettes too,
With long timber wagons,
Which big horses drew.

These all became less,
As in came the car
Both rattly and noisy,
But quicker by far.

There were folk going to chapel,
And others to church,
Some others that staggered,
And wobbled and lurched.

"Old Hard-Up" has seen it,
O'er many a decade,
But his end was untimely,
When a decision was made.

Along came the men,
With their axes and saws,
And looks most determined,
Matched with stubbly jaws.

At last with a crash,
It came to the ground
And then a mistake,
Had been made; it was found.

It wasn't"Old Hard-Up",
Who should have been felled,
"Twas' the one over there"
Someone then yelled.

This may not be true,
But the story is told,
And we can't put it back up,
Although we are bold.

A Landmark has gone,
The old oak is no more,
And time marches on,
Just the same as before.

Image : The Old Hard-Up Tree (43k)

Above: The Old Hard Up Tree at Bream Schools

by Harry Price

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