This week we welcomed Jack Hayter to the studio. Well, actually, we welcomed Jack back to the studio as he’s been here before, accompanying Ralegh Long on lap steel back in 2016.
The first song from the session is ‘I Sent My Love To Bendigo’. This is what Jack has to say about it:
‘I Sent My Love To Bendigo’ is set in the same village as Warhorse, Iddeseleigh in Devon. A construct of two tales told me by some of the same old men that Michael Morpurgo spoke to in the Duke of York in about 1975 when I was 16. I was brought up very near there.
Even then there was still bitterness about the forced sale of draught horses in 1914, because they were a bit like the equivalent of tractors and essential for heavy work. Everything was done with horses and as kids they’d loved those horses. So I invented a horse called Bendigo, named after the famous bare knuckle boxer (AKA William Thompson) Bendigo was a national figure and a member of the Nottingham Lambs who influenced the Luddites and Captain Swing riots in the West country in the 1830’s. Bendigo became a common pet name for a carthorse and quite a political name to give a horse.
That’s all woven in with a second story I was told about an elderly woman who lived not far from the village. She’s obviously now dead, but I won’t name her because she still has relatives in the area. Her brother was a conscientious objector and they had a hard time when men started joining up. She felt shamed by his principles and the story was that she joined with the rest of the village in mocking him and even pinned white feathers (you can Google that) to their front door at night while he slept. Eventually he gave in to the pressure and signed up.
Like many who returned from Europe at the end of WW1, Walter was not the same, we call it PTSD now. Eventually he killed himself at Christmas in 1921. His sister never married and she lived alone regretting by what they and the trenches had done to his mind. I know she was still alive in 1980 at the age of 94 but very frail.
The Duke of York is well known now thanks to Warhorse. It still has just about has a “Club” (the clubs were the early version of unions, think Tolpuddle Martyrs), and it maybe the last club still in existence, tho mostly just does cake sales nowadays, but once the clubs and Methodist farm workers were a real force. “Brothers strong as trees.”
So really its a song about Jingoism and PTSD.
Keep up with Jack on Facebook.