The Sick Note
(Why Paddy's Not at Work Today)
Pat Cooksey

See the Lesson Plan that science teacher David Vernot created to teach about pulleys and simple machines by incorporating this song.

The Dubliners perform Pat's song on Milestones.

Dear Sir I write this note to you to tell you of my plight
For at the time of writing I am not a pretty sight
My body is all black and blue, my face a deathly grey
And I write this note to say why Paddy's not at work today.

Whilst working on the fourteenth floor,some bricks I had to clear
To throw them down from such a height was not a good idea
The foreman wasn't very pleased, the bloody awkward sod
He said I had to cart them down the ladders in my hod.

Now clearing all these bricks by hand, it was so very slow
So I hoisted up a barrel and secured the rope below
But in my haste to do the job, I was too blind to see
That a barrel full of building bricks was heavier than me.

And so when I untied the rope, the barrel fell like lead
And clinging tightly to the rope I started up instead
I shot up like a rocket till to my dismay I found
That half way up I met the bloody barrel coming down.

Well the barrel broke my shoulder, as to the ground it sped
And when I reached the top I banged the pulley with my head
I clung on tightly, numb with shock, from this almighty blow
And the barrel spilled out half the bricks, fourteen floors below.

Now when these bricks had fallen from the barrel to the floor
I then outweighed the barrel and so started down once more
Still clinging tightly to the rope, my body racked with pain
When half way down, I met the bloody barrel once again.

The force of this collision, half way up the office block
Caused multiple abrasions and a nasty state of shock
Still clinging tightly to the rope I fell towards the ground
And I landed on the broken bricks the barrel scattered round.

I lay there groaning on the ground I thought I'd passed the worst
But the barrel hit the pulley wheel, and then the bottom burst
A shower of bricks rained down on me, I hadn't got a hope
As I lay there bleeding on the ground, I let go the bloody rope.

The barrel then being heavier then started down once more
And landed right across me as I lay upon the floor
It broke three ribs, and my left arm, and I can only say
That I hope you'll understand why Paddy's not at work today.

The song is sung to the tune of THE GARDEN WHERE THE PRATIES GROW.

Many thanks to Pat Cooksey for permission to display the lyrics and background of this popular song.
© Pat Cooksey. All rights reserved.

Pat Cooksey on the History of this Song

     It is generally assumed that I based this song on Gerard Hoffnung's wonderful address to
THE OXFORD UNION in 1958. This is not correct -- the recitation in a more simple form dates
back to the English Music Hall's of the 1920's and was printed in the Readers Digest in 1937 in
the form of a story.
     The fine Scottish singer and songwriter Dick Gaughan details some of the above on his
Homepage together with comments by Sam Hinton. The song is unique in as much as it appears
under such a galaxy of titles but always the same song,and it's worldwide popularity, with over
100 recordings to date,is a wonder indeed to me when I think back to it's humble beginnings in
The Dyer's Arms, in Coventry. I am naturally delighted that so many wonderful artist's have
recorded and performed my song over the years and I am very proud that the song has given so
much pleasure to so many people,long may it continue to do so.

Alternative Titles for this Song:

1. Paddy and the Barrel
2. Paddy and the Rope
3. Paddy and the Brick's
4. The Bricklayer's Song
5. Murphy and the Brick's
6. Brendan and the Brick's
7. The Excuse Note
8. Why Paddy's not at work Today
9. Dear Boss
10. The Barrel Song
11. The Sick Letter
12. Why Yassirs not at work Today

The above song under all alternative titles has always been and remains the sole copywright
of the original writer, PAT COOKSEY. The song was composed and first performed by me in
Coventry in 1969 and is registered with THE PERFORMING RIGHTS SOCIETY in London under
it's original title THE SICK NOTE and all the above alternative titles. No other Artist or Writer had
any part in the writing of this song nor may any claim be made for arrangement, the song under
all the above titles is performed in it's original form,only the Title has been changed.