With regard to its composition and original idea, according to Chas Hodges, the inspiration for the song came from his brother's account of his wife criticising his work putting up a curtain, to which he replied, "There ain't no f.. king pleasing you, is there?”
There is undoubtedly many a man and woman whose own experience with their marriage partners will echo the sentiment of this song as representing a reflection of their own relationship with an ungrateful partner. We have all heard of, and some have known, a person who never appreciates anything that is done for them. However much you do for them always seems insufficient and is never quite good enough.
After I came home from Canada at the age of 23 years, I returned to work at the textile firm of ‘Harrison Gardeners’ at Hightown (now closed) for one year before moving on to another job. When I left ‘Harrison Gardeners’ to go to Canada a few years earlier at the age of 21, I had worked as a vat operative in the main section of the dyeworks. I had also acted as the Shop Steward for the 400 plus men and women workers.
There was a bleaching shed in a section of the firm called ‘The White House’ which whitened and peroxided the hanks of yarn. This process of dying within the firm was probably the most specialised process within the entire dyeworks, and the man in charge of the four other workers in ‘The White House’ was called Keith. Although not on the staff or employed as an official foreman, Keith received a few pounds per week extra to compensate for his increased level of responsibility supervising the work of the other four men he worked alongside.
When it came to the process of bleaching yarn white, nobody in the firm knew half the knowledge that Keith had built up regarding bleaching, he, having worked in ‘The White House’ for longer than any other employee. However, between me going to Canada and returning, Mr Harrison’s youngest son had joined his father and older brother at the firm and had been given the prime responsibility of managing ‘The White House’. From the outset, the perfectly spoken and culturally reared David Harrison, just out of university, and the crudely mannered and ill-natured Keith jarred in personality and conduct. Young David Harrison quickly realised that the relationship between him and Keith was not working and would never work because Keith would never defer to his rank and status in the firm, and simply refused to be supervised by the boss’s son.
Hence; the decision to restructure the running of ‘The White House’ was taken and it was decided that a new person would be employed in the role of ‘Working Foreman’ over six men but under the direct authority of David Harrison. Keith was to become like the other ’White House’ operatives he used to supervise.
When I left ‘Harrison Gardeners’ to go to Canada, the textile firm was run by father, Mr Frank Harrison (referred to as ‘Mr Frank’) and the older of two sons, John Harrison. By the time I returned from Canada, the father had retired and the firm was now run by ‘Mr John’ while his younger brother (recently out of university), David Harrison was given charge of ‘The White House’ whose orders were increasing week by week and necessitating the employment of more workers to meet the extra demand in production required.
While I had no direct knowledge of bleaching yarn, because of the firm’s belief in my capacity to learn quickly along with my personal skills in managing workers, I was offered the role of working foreman of ‘The White House’. As my intention upon returning to England was my advancement in the textile industry, I accepted the role.
Needless to say that I knew absolutely nothing about the process of bleaching yarn peroxide white (never having worked in ‘The White House’ before), but David Harrison said that I could learn on the job as I went along and would have constant access to himself, along with the long experience of my workmate Keith, whose extensive bleaching knowledge I could constantly tap into. It was a great shame that nobody had asked Keith what he thought about me returning to the firm to take over his job, and in particular, how he might respond to his demotion from ‘White House Top Dog’ to being just another ‘White House Worker’ under my supervision?
The second week after I started working back at ‘Harrison Gardeners’, Keith Harrison decided to take a six-month sabbatical in a foreign country improving his dying knowledge and being familiarized with the new process of pressure-dying yarn black. Within 24 hours he had gone from ‘White House Manager’ to ‘Black Sabbatical Student’. I had literally been thrown in at the deep end, and what I had yet to learn about white peroxiding of yarn could only be learned from within the combined knowledge of the seven workers whom I was responsible for supervising, with the most knowledgeable about the process of peroxidising being Keith who’d worked in ‘The White House’ for the past eight years.
It will be of no great surprise to any reader that as far as Keith was concerned, I was persona non- grata; the prodigal son who had sowed my wild oats in Canada for the previous two years while he had effectively managed and run ‘The White House’, and who had now returned to take charge of his baby! Not only did Keith refuse to assist me in any way overcoming my learning curve, he deliberately set traps wherever and whenever he could that played on my lack of knowledge; traps that would lead to thousands of pounds of yarn being damaged, had another worker not spotted the pending disaster in the wings and pointed out the dangers to me.
I tried to do everything possible to make peace with Keith and acknowledge his working experience in relation to mine, especially where peroxidising whites were concerned, but whatever I did, it was never enough. Relationships became so fraught with Keith and his overall behaviour to all ‘The White House’ employees became more uncivil and obnoxious day. The more the other workers accepted my role as ‘Working Foreman’ the more Keith considered them all traitors and made his dislike of their cooperation obvious. He would never positively reply to a ‘good morning’ or ‘good night’ and did not acknowledge birthdays, Christmas greetings or even deign to congratulate one of his married workmates whose wife had just given birth to their firstborn. He effectively became ‘the workmate from hell’.
Being a relatively quick learner, I was able to get through with significant difficulty, but it wasn’t the best of atmospheres to be in charge of. The hassle did, however, prove to be good preparation for the next two textile positions that followed. Eight months after assuming the working foreman’s job in ‘The White House’, David Harrison returned from his extended sabbatical and within a day, he took back the management of ‘The White House’ and insisted that in future, all Harrison Gardeners’ employees call him ‘Mr David’. Six months later I was employed as a Finishing Foreman at another textile mill in Cleckheaton, and two years after that I became the Mill Manager at the same Cleckheaton firm.
While I had personally never done Keith any wrong, I can well understand what he did and why, without approving of his behaviour. Today, I can never hear ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’ without thinking of Keith from ‘Harrison Gardeners’.
Love and peace Bill xxx