Inglan Is A Bitch
Linton Kwesi Johnson
 
 
For a short biography of Linton Kwesi Johnson and a critical appraisal of his work: www.contemporarywriters.com
 

 

 

 

Listen to extract:  Inglan is a bitch (from the album Bass Culture, Island Records 1980)

 

 
                               

Original Text in Jamaican Creole (“Patois”)

Version in Standard English

 

w´en mi jus´ come to Landan toun

mi use to work pan di andahgroun 
but workin´ pan di andahgroun 
y´u don´t get fi know your way around 
 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no escapin it 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no runnin´ whey fram it 
 
mi get a lickle jab in a bih ´otell 
an´ awftah a while, mi woz doin´ quite well 
dem staat mi aaf as a dish-washah 
but w´en mi tek a stack, mi noh tun clack-watchah 
 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no escapin it 
Inglan is a bitch 
no baddah try fi hide fram it 
 
w´en dem gi´ you di lickle wage packit 
fus dem rab it wid dem big tax rackit 
y´u haffi struggle fi mek en´s meet 
an´ w´en y´u goh a y´u bed y´u jus´ can´t sleep 
 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no escapin it 
Inglan is a bitch, fi true
a noh lie mi a tell, a true 
 
mi use to work dig ditch w´en it cowl noh bitch 
mi did strang like a mule, but bwoy, mi did fool 
den awftah a while mi jus´ stap dhu ovahtime 
den awftah a while mi jus´ phu dung mi tool 
 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no escapin it 
Inglan is a bitch 
y´u haffi know how fi survive in it 
 
well mi dhu day wok an´ mi dhu nite wok 
mi dhu clean wok an´ mi dhu dutty wok 
dem seh dat black man is very lazy 
but if y´u si how mi wok y´u woulda sey mi crazy 
 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no escapin it 
Inglan is a bitch 
y´u bettah face up to it 
 
dem a have a lickle facktri up inna Brackly 
inna disya facktri all dem dhu is pack crackry 
fi di laas fifteen years dem get mi laybah 
now awftah fifteen years mi fall out a fayvah 
 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no escapin it 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no runnin´ whey fram it 
 
mi know dem have work, work in abundant 
yet still, dem mek mi redundant 
now, at fifty-five mi gettin´ quite ol´ 
yet still, dem sen´ mi fi goh draw dole 
 
Inglan is a bitch 
dere´s no escapin it 
Inglan is a bitch, fi true
is whey wi a goh dhu ´bout it? 

 

 

when I’d just come to London town

I used to work upon the underground

but working upon the underground

you don’t get to know your way around

 

England is a bitch

there’s no escaping it

England is a bitch

there’s no running away from it

 

I got a little job in a big hotel

and after a while, I was doing quite well

they started me off as a dishwasher

but when I took a stack, I didn’t turn clock watcher

 

England is a bitch

there’s no escaping it

England is a bitch

no bother trying to hide from it

 

when they give you a little wage packet

first they rob it with their big tax racket [fraud]

you have to struggle to make ends meet

and when you go to your bed you just can’t sleep

 

England is a bitch

there’s no escaping it

England is a bitch, for true

it’s no lie that I’m telling, a truth

 

I used to work digging ditches when it was cold no bitching [no lie]

I was strong like a mule, but boy, I was foolish

then after a while I just stopped doing overtime

then after a while I just put down my tool

 

England is a bitch

there’s no escaping it

England is a bitch

you have to know how to survive in it

 

well I did day work and I did night work

I did clean work and I did dirty work

they say that black man is very lazy

but if you had seen how I worked you would have said I was crazy

 

England is a bitch

there’s no escaping it

England is a bitch

you had better face up to it

 

They have a little factory up in Brackly

in this here factory all they do is pack crockery

for the last fifteen years they have got my labour

now after fifteen years I’ve fallen out of favour

 

England is a bitch

there’s no escaping it

England is a bitch

there’s no running away from it

 

I know they have work, work in abundance

yet still, they make me redundant

now at fifty-five I’m getting quite old

yet still, they send me to go draw dole [unemployment benefit]

 

England is a bitch

there’s no escaping it

England is a bitch, for truth

It’s what are we going to do about it?