In the burning Stretford Badlands,
On a Thursday in November,
We went to meet with Cactus Jack'
We were five as I remember.

A bunch of five, not really wild,
Went to meet Old Cactus Jack,
Three bad guys and two bad gals,
Took a table near the back.

There was Naughty Norma Hilton,
And her pardner Steeleye Geoff
At a burger bar in Uppermill
They'd drilled and grilled the Chef

There was Vin Locoweed Waldron,
No good he ever did
And Keith Tumbleweed Royales,
The Wild Westhoughton Kid.

And Dead Shot Denise Pennington,
From off the Pennine range,
Where anyone who does owt for nowt
Is thought exceeding strange.

This Locoweed Vin Waldron
He'd a price upon his head.
He'd fought the Glodwick Civil War'
When Nugget Street ran red.

But worst among this deadly gang,
The Wild Westhoughton Keith.
A dance hall girl who met his eye
Would soon be spitting teeth.

Our reputation came before
The locals showed us in
And treated us as honoured guests
Or close and valued kin.

Then Cactus Jack began to sing
Merle Haggard, Cash and Willie,
Songs to warm a Western heart
Nothing daft or silly.

The yellow rose of Stretford,
(Some dude had shot her Paw,)
Sold us Raffle tickets
But she was slow to make the draw.

Then we all talked with Andy B.,
Now known as Cactus Jack
Of days gone by on the Three Owls Ranch
It really took us back.

The armed men in the company,
Then fell to fighting duels
They drew their sixguns fast as fast
And were shown as champs or fools.

There were no real fatalities.
No dangerous mishaps.
The guns fired not six leaden slugs
but small explosive caps.

To sort out any argument
As To who was fool or champ,
An electronic box of tricks
Showed who'd won with a lamp.

Who had won and who had lost
Was it left or right?
The one adjudged the fastest gun
Then fought another fight.

The throwing of a tomahawk,
Was banned by Western law,
So even pesky Indians
Were given chance to draw.

The crowd were much divided'
between the blue and grey
Are you a Yank or Rebel?
There ain't no middle way.

A quiet time was spent by all,
To think and to reflect
On those who died for heartfelt cause,
And pay them due respect.

Now Cactus Jack's a fine Hombre
Like me and you and you
But he often found that life was raw
On Bellfield Avenue.

When he sings his songs of olden days
There is some sadness there
He often suffered punishment,
More than his due share.

So now there ain't much more of this
Here's were my ballad ends
Us pardners from the Three Owls Ranch

This last line is the way in which
Old Cactus ends his show
We loved our night in the Stretford west
And were sad when we had to go

I don't think I'll be buying
A Stetson, spurs or gun
But clubs like this and other ones
Are how some folks have fun.

If shootouts, songs and dressing up
Relieve the daily grind
Then who are we, more boring farts
To grumble or to mind?

So here's farewell to Cactus Jack
And all the gals and guys
Long may you chase your phantom herds
Across the western skies.
The Ballad of CACTUS JACK

By The Kersley Kid

(apologies to Robert Service and Dan Magrew)

Further apologies to all slandered in the cause of scansion or rhyme)
For the brutal murder of the     English Language
          The Kersley Kid
alias Locoweed Waldron
Naughty Norma and Dead Shot Denise
For Criminal Tastes in Music