The usual 'cookies' warning. More...

BILLS album (2017)

BILLS album cover

The "Bills" album was launched in November 2017 and was initially only available as a CD at my gigs or by emailing me, but now you can download the 'Bills' album (free). It is a .zip file which includes the tracks as .mp3 files, and also a .pdf file of the album booklet.

This collection, quite by coincidence, includes five songs which mention a person by the name of William, and two which mention swans' beaks, so the title chose itself.

Some songs refer to the area where I have lived for forty years or where I was born and brought up, and some are serious but most aren't.

1 Old Banger

2 The Crow

3 Bill the Quill

4 Inky Fingers

5 Mad Billy

6 Mary Ann's Teapot

7 Stranton

8 Tourists of Stratford

9 Hartburn

10 Walking to Wilmcote

11 Navvy Nan

12 Holey Melodeon

Download the 'Bills' album (free)

The CD booklet tells you a bit about each of the songs.


Bill the Quill

© 2016 Lol Moran

(In fifteen) sixty four, to the Shakespeares' door
A midwife makes her way.
And soon they've got a babe in a cot,
On St George's Day.
As they watch him grow, his folks soon know,
That William's a 'bit of a lad'.
He's poaching deer, and drinking beer,
And enjoying life like mad.

Ch  Let's drink to Bill the Quill, poet of renown,
And playwright who, wrote Hamlet too,
The Tempest, and The Taming of the Shrew.
Here's to Bill the Quill.

(He gets) Anne Hathaway in the family way,
(So) with Anne to church he goes.
(Now) he needs to work, can't afford to shirk,
As nobody wants his prose.
But what job he can do for a groat or two?
None in Stratford can he find,
So he goes off down to London town,
Leaving wife and kids behind.


(So he) goes on the stage, which brings in a wage,
And gets his foot in the door.
Then he says one day, that he's written a play,
And soon he's come up with more.
Whether comic or not, with holes in the plot,
The punters love each one.
And his shows sell out, so there's never a doubt,
That his new career's begun.


His skill with a quill brings fame to our Bill,
And he soon is all the rage.
With his debts all paid, and his fortune made,
And his plays on every stage,
But for all his fame, he tires of the game,
And returns to his old scene.
And a big house buys, in which he dies,
In the year sixteen sixteen.


(So) Saint George's Day, was the very sad day,
Of Bill the Quill's demise.
He missed his cue, on his birthday too,
No more would his curtain rise.
(He's never) lost his fame, or his wide acclaim,
Though he's been four centuries dead,
And although long gone, he'll forever live on,
Will the bard with the shiny head.


The Crow

© 2017 Lol Moran

To the crow you may well be a stran-ger
But he knows that you cannot fly
So he knows that you pose him no dan-ger
When he sees you walking on by

Ch   He has agility up in the sky
With nonchalant ease he will joyously fly
But back on the ground he will simply strut by
With not a care in the world

He knows that cars will not harm him
When he’s to the left of the line.
A speeding car cannot alarm him.
He’s out of the way in good time


He’ll wheel and soar over the city
No bird can more skilfully fly
But it’s sad that he’s more Goth than pretty
And he cannot improve his rough cry


He knows the ropes, he is street-wise
Humans are not a concern
It’s on the cats he keeps his eyes
But he knows that they never learn




© 2017 Lol Moran

Bishop Hugh de Puiset asked one William of Hartburn
To give up his land, for some Hugh planned, to offer in return
William knew refusing him was a thing that wasn’t done
So he, bereft, from Hartburn left, and to Washington was gone.
But William, now of Washington, he prospered once he’d moved.
And that became, the family name, which his descendants used.
Then one, a Robert Washington, for a wealthy heiress fell.
And made a dash, towards her cash, in Lancashire to dwell.

The secret of success is knowing when to move along
And if an heiress comes your way, you really can’t go wrong

Then his descendant Lawrence also played the heiress game.
And wed a lass, with cash and class, when he to Sulgrave came
But here the story goes awry, their money all was lost.
The Civil War, then kept them poor, but brought a further cost.
The family of John Washington had backed the losing side,
So he sailed away, to Amerikay, in the Colonies to hide.
He never came back, but did a stack, of things which earned acclaim
But as George Washington’s great-grandad he has much greater fame

The secret of success is knowing when to move along
But if the White House comes your way, you really can’t go wrong

But let us think back to that time eight hundred years ago.
Had the bishop been, a bit less mean, that bossy so-and-so.
He’d not have elbowed William out; from Hartburn made him go,
And things could now be diff-e-rent, though we’ll never really know
So while young John may still have crossed the wild Atlantic foam
His family name, it would be the same, as their ancestral home
So that may mean Seattle could, in Hartburn State now be,
And that famous sight, the White House might, be in Hartburn DC

The secret of success is knowing when to move along
But moving to a place called acid reflux is so wrong

Holey Melodeon

©2017 Lol Moran

My melodeon it had a puncture. And it was running out of puff
So I tried to squeeze it harder. But it still was not enough
So I repaired it with some duck tape. I thought two rolls would do the trick
But it never cured the problem. And the bellows now is two feet thick

So I took out my penny whistle though I hadn’t played it for a while
Not a peep could I get from it ‘til I fished some gunge out with a file
But still no music was it making despite the air I blew in there
It seems the red bit and the brass bit - they work only as a pair

So next I tried to play my bodhran There’s little to go wrong with those
Unless your partner finds one handy when hanging out wet clothes
Then of course there was the banjo, which was somewhat out of tune
As I was tuning it a string broke. Some might say “and not too soon”

So then I tried a comb and paper, but Bronco loo rolls they don’t sell
Their successors go all limp and soggy, and they get stuck in your teeth as well
So I gave up all thoughts of playing. To hear a record I preferred
But vinyl discs require a stylus, so Steeleye Span were never heard

My melodeon it had a puncture. The start of all my woes
So I revisited the problem, the leak in its bellows
So I stripped off all the duck tape, and fixed the leak with superglue
And once I’ve ...prised my fingers from the buttons, it will be as good as new

Inky Fingers

© 2016 Lol Moran

Now that you're a man please tell me what's your plan.
Is writing for the stage still your ambition?
Is moving to the smoke no longer just a joke?
And will you leave your wife in her condition?

Don't waste all your days with acting and with plays
Get a trade in Stratford-upon-Avon.
London's big and rough, where you need to be tough
You could never call it a safe haven

Ch  Why won't you be a glover like me?
People need their gloves when winter lingers.
Why must you write, all day and half the night.
You never will be rich with inky fingers.

It would do no harm to work upon a farm
Like it did no harm to your grandmother
But your time you fill, in scratching with your quill,
Knocking out some sonnet or another.

You could be like me, a town celebrity,
Respected everywhere by poor and gentry.
But you hide away and work upon a play,
To which no-one would ever pay for entry.


But if London's where you're bound remember we're around
We'll always take you in if life gets tricky.
Good luck, but do take care, there's villains everywhere.
The streets aren't paved with gold but are brown and sticky.

And should things go awry, remember this my boy,
A pauper still is rich, having health and love.
…Though he'd be richer still if he didn't use a quill,
Especially if he could make a glove.


But if you must write, all day and half the night
Wearing gloves prevents having inky fingers.

Mad Billy

© 2017 Lol Moran

Inspired by a thread on an internet messageboard where various contributors were remembering peculiar old men from their youth.

When I was a youngster, I'd go into town
(And) see lots of old folk who’d walk up and down
One man looked odd, and I couldn't say why
But small kids would taunt him as he trudged on by.
The old man ignored it, he’d brazen it out
But then he would snap, and he’d turn round and shout
And the kids would then laugh at achieving their aim
Winding up Mad Billy was just a game.

Ch  Mad Billy, Mad Billy, soft in the head
Mad Billy, Mad Billy, never was wed,
‘Stay well away from him’ our parents said
It was an existence, not a life that he led

When, many years later, we’d chat with our peers
We kids of the fifties, compared our young years
The names and the places would differ but yet
We'd have similar stories, of (the) strange men we'd met
They were just ‘different’, (but) we thought them insane
Our parents knew better, but didn’t explain
As it suited them that we’d be on our guard
(And) to those old men’s lives they gave little regard


Then an old soldier, he gave an insight,
Those old men we’d known had once, been young and bright
So imagine them marching off, proudly to war
Then crouching in trenches, surrounded by gore
They may have been odd but, who wouldn’t have been
Having done what they’d done, having seen what they’d seen
Then returned to a country where folk didn't care
(That) their lives had been ruined by the shells ‘over there’



Mary Ann's Actual teapot
Mary Ann's actual Wedgwood teapot

Mary Ann's Teapot

© 2016 Lol Moran
A true story from north-east England in mid-Victorian times. Sunderland, on Wearside, is not only its setting, it's also where I went to school for seven years and where my great-grandparents lived in Mary Ann Cotton's time, so I like to think that they may have known her.

(Can be heard here)

Mary Ann Cotton, who lived on Wearside
Had a black Wedgwood teapot she'd usually hide
But she'd bring it out and she'd show it with pride
To those she'd invited to tea
(Back) then ars'nic pois'ning was quite hard to spot
As similar symptoms would kill quite a lot
So she put some ars'nic in her black teapot
...(And) invited a victim to tea

She had four husbands but just one survived
And eleven of her children could not be revived
Her mother croaked just as the Hobnobs arrived
(But) after she'd swallowed some tea
She'd insured her husbands as soon as they wed
And made a quick claim after each one was dead
These payouts they all seemed to follow a thread
...(And) the clues implicated her tea

The whole sorry business it then was exposed
Her plan wasn't foolproof as she had supposed
So she was banged up with the door tightly closed
And Wearside was safe from her tea
Mary Ann's teapot brought financial gain
And she used it over and over again
(But) she offered tea to the hangman in vain
...Who lied about not liking tea

Mary-Ann was hanged, having not been reprieved
Becoming deceased after years being bereaved
Her neighbours were grateful that they'd not received
Mary-Ann's invitation to tea
As a poisoner, Mary Ann had great success
(Yet) she'd not have been caught had she just done it less
But breaking the habit is hard I should guess
...When the body count nears twenty-three

Mary Ann Cotton, who lived on Wearside
Had a black Wedgwood teapot she'd usually hide
But she'd bring it out and she'd show it with pride
To those she invited to tea
That black Wedgwood teapot sent Mary-Ann to hell
Was its colour a hint to her crimes – who can tell?
But no doubt the Devil now knows far too well
...She reminds him when she pours his tea
...(Which) he hopes will be arsenic-free

Navvy Nan

©2016 Lol Moran

Ch  Our town car-rier, Navv-y Nan,
She was rough-er than the rough-e-st man
She drank like a fish, and she would join any fight
And she'd have to be carried from the pub each night

Nan went round the town in her donkey cart
Delivering stuff to any part
But outside the town she couldn't ever go
Her repu'tation made it so

Nan did one rou’nd trip each day
And stopped at ev'e'ry pub on th'e way
Her morning deliv'e'ries were never late
In the aft'er'noon you would have a long wait


Her old donkey it was grey
And she'd be chewing tobacco all day
She'd spit on his ear to make him slow down so
One ear was grey but the other was brown

To the Blacksmith's Arms each night she'd go
And knock back pints, about nine or so
When drunk she'd take th'e whole pub on
She'd wave he'r stick an'd shout “Come on!”


Nan's grey donkey he was smart
He'd carry her home asleep in the cart
Which meant that she couldn’t hit him on his rear
And that he’d get home without a soggy ear

Nan she died in the old White Hart
For a hearse they used he'r donkey cart (so)
For her last trip, like so many be'fore
The donkey to'ok Nan, laid flat on the floor



Old Banger

©2016 Lol Moran

Alas, old banger, you've now gone wrong,
so I'm casting you out, discourteously
Though I have loved you for so long
Delighting in your company

Ch  Old banger, you were my joy
You, old banger, were my delight
But - a lorry they’ll soon employ
To take you my dodgy old banger

Your rust is of the earthen brown
Your brakes aren't safe and your tyres are bald
You'd hardly make it into town
Even if your engine never stalled


Alas, old banger, you're past your best
It's time that you went to pastures new
That pool of oil it would suggest
Your travelling days will be very few


Alas, old banger, on a lorry you've gone,
and I've cast you out, discourteously
Though I had lov'ed you for so long
...But fifty quid's better than nothing for thee


© 2017 Lol Moran

Stranton was a village, two centuries ago
When Ralph Ward Jackson built some docks and a new town that would grow
A town that would envelop it, a sleepy place no more
With its iron works and shipyards, its docks and pubs galore
Stranton was surrounded, and much was swept away
The Blacksmiths Arms and parish church were all that were to stay
And fine new shops and houses around its village green
Made this part of West Hartlepool, a fair sight to be seen

Ch  Stranton, little Stranton, around which grew a town
It was a stylish suburb once, but now is so run down
Stranton, shabby Stranton, with its church upon its hill
It’s not as smart as once it was, but hangs on in there still

But then decay and planners, ensured its heart was gone
And it became a dead end, in more senses than one
And with that sad old row of shops which looks out on the green
It’s nothing like the lively place that Stranton once had been
Its name is now redundant, its future a lost cause
Wouldn’t it be nice to see it once more as it was
But sadly that’s a wistful dream, and all pie in the sky
It’s just an urban backwater that surely soon will die



Walking to Wilmcote

© 2017 Lol Moran

It’s such a magnificent day
When the) weather’s so good you just can’t stay at home.
So to Wilmcote I’m making my way
A-long the canal on the towpath I’ll roam.
It’s true I could get there by bus
But there’s not many buses which call there each day
And to walk to the bus stop’s such fuss
It’s as easy to just walk the whole ...of the ...way.
(So I’m)

Ch   Walking to Wilmcote, just taking the air
Surrounded by butterflies, swans and tall trees
Walking to Wilmcote, because it is there
And stopping to look at the boats when I please

On the train I could easily go,
But I’d walk a mile to the station in town
And as these modern trains don’t go slow,
I’d be up again soon after I had sat down
By bicycle I might have gone
But I do not have one, and I have to say
I can’t see me with bike helmet on
Riding in bright Lycra up ...the Ridge ...way
(so I’m)


(T go by canal boat sounds nice
But op’ning and closing twelve locks is a chore,
And just who’d pay the boat hire price?
And to get home means doing all twelve locks once more
Of course in the car I could drive,
It’s only a five minute trip, not too far
But if I in the car should arrive,
It would limit my choice at the Ma ...son’s Arms
(so I’m)


But now it is starting to rain
The idea of a walk has now lost its appeal
And so rather than go, I’ll remain
Then tomorrow, perhaps, I again ...will still ...fee-e-e-el ...up to


...and making sure swans do not go for my knees!

Back to top