Today’s song is ‘You Win Again’. This was a 1952 song by Hank Williams. In style, the song is a blues ballad and deals with the singer's despair with his partner. The song has been widely covered, including versions by Ray Charles: Jerry Lee Lewis: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan: Johnny Cash: Gene Vincent: George Jones: Glenn Campbell: Conway Twitty and the Rolling Stones.
Hank Williams recorded ‘You Win Again’ on July 11, 1952; one day after his divorce from Audrey Williams was finalized. Like ‘Cold, Cold Heart’, the song was likely inspired by his tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife, as biographer Colin Escott observes:
"It might have been no more than coincidence, but, in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary, the songs cut that day after Hank's divorce seems like pages torn from his diary. Its theme of betrayal had grown old years before Hank tackled it, but, drawing from his bottomless well of resentment, he gave it a freshness bordering on topicality."
‘You Win Again’ peaked at Number 10 on the ‘Most Played’ in ‘C&W Juke Boxes Chart’.
I was ten years old when this song was first recorded by Hank Williams, but I would be 18 years old when I first heard it. At the time, I worked at a Dyeworks in Hightown called Harrison Gardeners (long since closed). One of my workmates was a 28-year-old man who was about ten years older than me called Arthur.
Arthur used to take on the additional functions of daily going to the local shop and placing food orders for anyone in the firm who wanted sandwiches, pies or fish and chips for their lunch break. In return for these extra services, all workmates placing orders would give Arthur a few pennies for himself. With a customer base of around fifty work mates daily, Arthur would earn an extra few pounds every day for himself. In addition, he also had an arrangement with the general store and fish shop he used, that if he placed his large daily order with them, they would provide him with one free portion of fish and chips or any free sandwich of his choice. On those days when he received both free sandwiches and fish and chips, he would sell off one of them to his workmates and pocket the profit. When I started at the firm, Arthur had been the ‘lunch shopper’ for over five years. All this was at a time in Great Britain when the weekly average wage of a working man was around £16. Consequently, with his additional earnings on the side, Arthur earned double what all his workmates did in any given week.
This knack of ‘earning extra’ for Arthur had become a way of life ever since his teenage years, and by the time I knew him, he was well on his way to becoming one of the wealthiest chaps in West Yorkshire.
I am not aware of Arthur’s precise upbringing, but it wasn’t a poor one as his parents occupied a very large old cottage in Roberttown and Arthur was their only child. His widowed mother had always been a sickly woman since the death of Arthur’s dad, and although she didn’t die until her late sixties, it was often rumoured that Arthur hoped for an early passing. It was well known that Arthur would be very comfortable when she did die and he eventually inherited.
For whatever reason, there must have been something in Arthur’s past that made him want to amass as much money as he possibly could. The only security he seemed to have was in the comfort of being surrounded by money and the means of amassing more of it. He was a proper wheeler-dealer ‘Del Boy’ and there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to make a profit, except for gambling. Money was too important a factor in his life ever to risk losing in a wager.
I first met Arthur when he was aged twenty-eight years. He was the only working-class chap I knew who had bought and paid for his own house in Heckmondwike three years earlier. He rented this house out for an extra income and had no intention of ever moving out of his widowed mother’s house before she died and left him the large family home.
Naturally, anyone who was short of money mid-week (which essentially included all the workers in the firm except Arthur) could always borrow from him. If ever a larger loan in emergency circumstances was needed, that also could be arranged for a higher interest. Arthur charged ten percent profit on any amount loaned per week and if the debt wasn’t paid off the following payday and was carried over into a further week, the interest would become twelve percent due on the second week and fourteen percent on the third week. Arthur carried ‘his little black book’ in his back pocket and this never left his person. It was rumoured that Arthur slept with it under his pillow on a night. This ‘debt book’ identified all of Arthur’s debtors, the interest charged, and the amount owed.
I will never forget the morning that I saw Arthur in the most agitated mood I’d ever seen him in. The upshot was that he’d lost his ‘black book’ from his back pocket and was dashing to the outside lavatory cubicles in the yard where he had just left after a ten-minute sitting in one of the toilet cubicles. When he arrived at the cubicle he’d occupied five minutes earlier (and where he hoped he’d dropped his black book on the floor), he found it occupied. He kept banging on the door until the occupant opened it, extremely angry to be interrupted at the most strenuous time of his morning. Arthur had the lavatory door slammed in his face, but he saw his black book on the floor of the toilet bowl as he got ‘shut out’.
The sitting occupant’s attention was then drawn to the ‘black book’ on the floor, which it was reported he proceeded to read through as Arthur waited patiently outside the door. When Arthur’s workmate eventually emerged from his lavatory cubicle and Arthur demanded his ‘black book’ back, the workmate who’d found it initially refused, indicating that there was no way Arthur could prove it was his property. Arthur eventually got his book back ‘at a price’ that was never disclosed to the rest of the workers. It was surmised to be the cancellation of the finder’s loan or some agreed payment in ‘hush money’ on ‘non-disclosure’ terms for never revealing the list of debtors and the amounts owed inside the book. Arthur was generally a popular workmate but had he ever incurred a fatal accident, I suspect that many dozens of debtors would have been highly relieved, if not delighted!
When Arthur was around 18 years old (ten years before I knew him), he started dating a working girl from the same Dyeworks called Pat (she never used her longer name of Patricia). Despite her age and natural attractive looks, Pat would peroxide bleach her hair blonde. This practice was frowned upon during the 1950s/60s and was rarely done unless one was an actress or worked in a street profession. Pat was a beautiful looking woman who set her cap at Arthur as soon as she met him. Arthur, on the other hand, was going bald even in his early twenties and was so embarrassed by his loss of hair that he was never seen without wearing his flat cap (even in the house). Still, despite his balding head and scrooge-like characteristics, Pat must have seen something that attracted her to Arthur, and to hang on tight to him. All his workmates envied the balding Arthur being able to attract a gorgeous looking young woman like Pat, who was generally referred to as being ‘sex on legs’ by those workmates who were jealous of Arthur.
When I first met Arthur, he and Pat had already been engaged for over eight years. They’d been courting since they were both eighteen years old and had got engaged two years later. Eventually, remaining a ‘Miss’ into her twenties began to acutely embarrass Pat. Arthur had never shown her the slightest intention of ever proposing marriage to her, so Pat took matters into her own hands and used a ‘Leap Year’ to make her own proposal of marriage to Arthur on February 29th. Both she and Arthur were twenty years old at the time. Arthur might have been an old miser, but he probably worked out pretty quickly that if he didn’t accept Pat’s proposal of marriage and take her off the ‘market of availability’, she would become ‘soiled goods’ within weeks, after all the other single chaps who fancied her had taken her out on a date.
So, Pat and Arthur became officially engaged when they were each twenty years old. It reportedly took Arthur a further two years before he bought her a diamond engagement ring that he’d purchased from a pawn shop in Bradford. Accepting her proposal of marriage naturally led Pat to conclude that they would soon be man and wife, but Pat hadn’t accounted for Arthur’s love of money above any love he held for her.
While Pat was an asset he didn’t want to lose, his widowed mother was holding out an even greater asset in Arthur’s inheritance of her property when she died. There was one big fly in the ointment though which Arthur could not dispose of. After Arthur had initially introduced Pat to his mother when they’d been courting for around six months, his mother apparently took an instant dislike to her. She considered Pat to be as ‘common as muck’; perceiving her as being an unnatural blonde who wasn’t good enough to marry her only son. The upshot was that Arthur was no longer welcome to bring his girlfriend to the house and his mother threatened to disinherit him and leave all her estate to a dog’s home (they had twin collies) if he didn’t stop dating Pat.
Arthur agreed to his mother's terms to break it off with Pat, but as his mother was a sickly woman who hardly left the house, he felt he could continue seeing Pat and that his mum would never learn of his deception. That was seemingly the reason why he bought the Heckmondwike house outright at the age of twenty-five, so he could have a place to bring Pat back to at times when he couldn’t bring her back home to mum’s house. As far as Arthur’s mother knew, her son had broken off his relationship with Pat and she never got an inkling about their Heckmondwike love-nest property.
Within one year of buying the house in Heckmondwike, Arthur started to rent it out, supposedly to make more money to go towards his and Pat’s eventual marriage after his mother died.
The ending to this story is that the couple had the longest engagement that any couple probably ever had in England, at a time when most young men and women were married and had parented children by their twenty-second birthdays. Pat and Arthur got married ten years after they had got engaged. Arthur’s mother had died a year earlier, and when he no longer had a viable excuse to keep Pat waiting any longer, Pat marched her man up the wedding aisle as quickly as he’d go. The married couple then took up residency in the house that Arthur had grown up in.
Before I went to live in Canada for a few years at the age of twenty-one years, Arthur (who was now in his early thirties) still worked at the Dyeworks in Hightown and Pat (his wife) still worked in the winding and packaging department. However, whatever amount of money Arthur amassed over the years never seemed to be enough for him. Despite seeming to have it all; his big bank balance, his money-making rackets, his Heckmondwike property, his big inherited family home, and his beautiful looking bride, Pat (whose colour of hair hadn’t changed one iota in tone in all the years I knew her), Arthur always wanted more.
Whichever one looked at it, Arthur had ‘won again’ by learning to hold out asking Pat to marry him until Pat got well and truly fed up and proposed herself and by deceiving his poorly mother that he still had Pat in the background. When I came back from Canada a few years later, both Arthur and Pat had left the employment of Harrison Gardener’s Dyeworks. I heard in later years that he’d sold his Heckmondwike property that he’d rented out and also that the family home had been sold up. I never learned his current whereabouts but wherever he and his wife Pat is, I’d be willing to bet that he’s still a ‘Del Boy’ wheeler and dealer who carries a black book of his debtors and that Pat’s hair is still the same colour that it’s always been!
Come to think of it, I met my wife Sheila in 2010 and we got married in November 2012 (a Leap Year). Also, I cannot recollect ever proposing marriage to her. In fact, come to think of it, it might have been the other way ‘round, as it was on February 29th, 2012 when Sheila first brought the subject up and we got married nine months later? The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that Sheila found her own way of doing the proposing and of making me an offer that I couldn’t refuse! She even paid the marriage licence fee. Blow my little cotton socks, ‘ Sheila went and won again’.
Love and peace Bill xxx