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Antiguan Graveyard

This track is an original by The Teacups, friends of the Longest Johns and a fantastic band in their own right. It was written by the The Teacups own Kate Locksley.

Of the song, Kate has said

Antigua was under British rule in the eighteenth century and its sugar plantations were crucial to British trade. It sits between islands that were held by Britain's deadly rivals, the French. As such, it needed protection, and it was every seaman's worst nightmare to be posted there; if the yellow fever didn't get you, you could look forward to being poisoned by the rum, which was bottled in lead. I wrote this song after watching a documentary which told how a recent monsoon had uncovered a graveyard full of British sailors on the island. The tune is inspired by an Irish jig, 'Coleraine'.

Lyrics

To Antigua our valiant ships they do sail,
through dangerous waters and many a gale,
to lay in English Harbour, off Galleon Beach,
the furthest west corner of our empire to reach

To serve George, our king, and protect British Trade
from the Frenchman's loud cannon, and the Spaniard's sharp blade
now Englishmen all they have no need to fear,
for the tropical waters of our Empires frontier

{Chorus}
We're off to Antigua all on the salt sea,
though we care not for coffee, nor chocolate, nor tea
we'll drink up our rum for it renders us numb,
and we'll hope to be home by the end of the year

Now our anchor is lowered upon the sea floor,
and we live upon ship never stepping on shore,
the sea is a sewer for there is no tide,
and without any shore leave where can we hide?

A fiery furnace burns tar on the land,
and we're trapped in our ship at the captain's command,
the air thick with brimstone, it burns in our throats,
in this far away prison we find that hell floats

{Chorus}

Antigua's plantations they grow thick with gold,
a sea of cane sugar brings fortune untold,
and we sailors all do our best to survive,
while hundreds and thousands of slaves they do drive

There's a stench on the gun deck, no fresh air or light,
and the heat never leaves us come day or come night,
our food it is rotten, the water is green,
such torment around us you never have seen.

{Chorus}

The sugar cane's crushed and the rum it flows free,
stored in lead bottles we drink it with glee,
it makes our heads sore and our bellies do ache,
our sea legs desert us our hands they do shake,

and then comes the fever no man can escape,
if your skin it turns yellow, by then it's too late,
chills in your body and aches in your back,
it is the foul curse of ever poor jack,

{Bridge}

Farewell to our comrades, we'll see them no more,
they're wrapped in their hammocks to be buried on shore,
it's fever, not fighting, takes sailors away,
and leaves many a ghost ship afloat in the bay

{Chorus x2}

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