The Ballad of Driver 999
or,
Takeley, Four Pounds, Cash



When a man grows old, and his Galaxy's cold,
And the end of his shift is near,
When he's tired of the Base, and there's lines on his face,
He can tell you a tale or two.


So pull me a pint, and bring me a stool,
And to you a tale I'll tell,
Of Rocket Ron, the Scud, and John,
And Driver Nine-Nine-Nine.


I was a fair young lad, not gone to the bad,
Like so many drivers are.
I'd married a wife, and got a nice life,
And my bills were almost paid.

I'd never logged-on early, always quit on time,
Never jumped the queue nor ate in the car
Spoke nice to the Desk, saluted the cops
To Base staff showed respect.

But then one night, in the Base, in the faded light,
When the length of the shift seemed long,
I fell asleep in the long night's deep
Is that really so very wrong?

A Thing came to me, a pale ghostly fright,
And called for a Driver long gone.

It stood at my knee, and glared down at me,
And spat in my poisonous coffee.

"You think you're a smash, cut no end of a dash,
But beware - TAKELEY, FOUR POUNDS, CASH!"

"I'm Nine-Nine-Nine, who slept in the line,
Was condemned, as a fine, to eternal grind
Without a break (no hope of a slash)
Just TAKELEY, FOUR POUNDS, CASH.

After many a year of drudgery drear
Heaven saw my dreadful plight
The angels sang of cakes and beer
And promised an end to the night.


St Peter said "Go round the Base just one last time
And tell the lads your tale
I'll log you on at the Pearly Gates
There's no more need to wail"

"When the last shift ends on the Final Day
You're on the doors and first away.
No more Lodge, and no more Hilton,
No more BAC.
The end of all those hellish calls
TAKELEY, FOUR POUNDS, CASH"


Then I awoke as the controller spoke, the words rang in my ear,
"Come on, Tim, stay awake in the line,
Or I call three times and then you're mine!
If you're not on the doors before the cock crows,
You'll get TAKELEY, FOUR POUNDS, CASH!

No more Heathrow One-Oh-Four
You blew Waterloo Eighty-Two
You're condemned to the lash.
Of TAKELEY, FOUR POUNDS, CASH!"

I rushed to the bog and washed my face,
My hair had all gone grey --
Ran to the car and risked a fine
Made it in time, didn't lose my place.

But I quaked all the same till the shift's end came.
So good lads all, hear my call, even if you forget my name.
Remember in red the words I've said
And sleep at home -- in bed.

 
 
 
Tim 828, White Shift