The Ballad of Jim Carlos

I
It was the feast of St Peter and Paul on the 29th June
A tall elderly Pat wearing a hat went into an Acton Saloon
His name was James Carlos. I knew the man quite well
And I hope you will pay an attentive ear to what I am going to tell.

II
Carlos came from Roscommon and in Chiswick had his abode
An orderly man past 3 score and ten he lived in Whellock Rd.
He liked a pint of bitter and drank in a steady way
But he never went wild, had no chick or child
To share his retirement pay.

III
The years went in serenity and Carlos was getting old
He’d passed seventy four, or may be more so his homestead he auctioned and sold
He went to live in Acton where everything seemed in tune
‘Till that awful plight on that tragic night on the 29th June

IV
He finished his pint of bitter then said goodbye to all
On that hot June night he went out of sight then seemed to slip backward and fall
A woman phoned for assistance as he lay there injured and pale
And the Black Maria came to the scene and old Carlos was taken to jail.

V
He was injured but that didn’t matter, he was Irish remember as well
Does this much vaunted law have a prejudiced flaw
Or are my feelings partial as well
He received no doctor’s attention, he was placed in a cell on the floor
And the full legal treatment accorded to an old man of seventy four.

VI
The cell was unlocked in the morning but Old Jim remained where he lay
He had passed from the strife of this jumbled up life
To a fairer land further away
The station book now must be entered, the facts must be traced to the source
And what better way, in this form filling day, than to have a post mortem of course.

VII
This ritual was duly performed, he had died from an internal bleed
His fall on the path was the full cause of that so for further ado there’s no need
Oh yes! His breath smelled of liquor, it was sniffed as he lay still and pale
And that is the reason Old Carlos was placed in a cell in the jail

VIII
And that is the reason though injured he was charged as he lay on the floor
A drunken old rogue with an Irish brogue who protested his stomach felt sore
And that is the reason I write now, and that is the reason I tell
Jim Carlos should have been in a hospital ward and not in a prison cell

IX
I sent a protest to Spearing he was, and is, Acton’s M.P
His reply was brief, there was no relief, and not a spark of humanity
I wrote to the press in anger, my letter was published I’ll say
And I wholly condemned the system that is with us to this present day

X
I believe I’ve a case to offer, I believe that the law should be changed
I fully believe for this injured old man treatment should have been arranged
I believe if you listen and ponder these changes will come about soon
And in this tragic way I shall never have call
To spotlight the feast of St Peter and Paul on the 29th June

By William O’Donnell 03.03.1971

©2013 The estate of William O’Donnell (Chiswick)

Copies of the communications with Spearing are located below.

Nigel Spearing Letter 001 Spearing Response 001Jim Carlos 001

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