The Potting Shed Album (2012)

The Potting Shed s Album Cover


Recording for the mix of these album tracks began in February 2011.

It was not until 12 months later that the idea of a potting shed captured my imagination. 

That gave me the title track and a catalytic vision. 

The CD was reviewed by David Kidman of FATEA and Tom Morton of BBC Radio Scotland.

Potting Shed artwork is by the lovely Angie Briggs. The skilled man at the sound desk was Aaron Carter of Lodmoor Media. 

See individual tracks below to find songs with lyrics plus some background information. If there is a youtube version, then this is indicated. 

You can listen to the whole album by clicking on Soundcloud

If you are UK resident and wish to purchase a hard copy of The Potting Shed CD,  the UK delivered price is £6.50. 


This song started off its life as “The Wormery”. Ideas for the words came first and then it sat in limbo for a couple of months. I had no clear idea of a tune. The tune itself is not ground breaking, but I play the song in the key of F and use closed position DADGAD chords. Taking this approach opens up new avenues of thinking. It makes for a very comfortable rattle around a circle of fifths with a rolling thumb picking style. There is a youtube version: Potting Shed. The track can be heard on Soundcloud.

The Potting Shed

I bought myself a wormery. It cost me twenty quid.

I saw it at an auction. Mine was the highest bid.

I read all the instructions, word for word, as best I could.

Now I make prime compost, as a keeper of a wormery should.

I feed them with the leftovers from breakfast, dinner and tea.

With a solemn vow, I promise my worms, that one day they’ll get me!


I try to be organic. I give them greens galore.

Being green is not a thing, a person can ignore.

If my worms had hands they’d rub them, at the time of day

I gather up my gubbins and to them I wend my way.

I feed them with the leftovers from breakfast, dinner and tea.

With a solemn vow, I promise my worms, that one day they’ll get me!


If I’m driving down a road and spy a recent kill,

I scoop it up and mix it in with all my kitchen swill. 

A flattened furred or feathered friend and once, I found an owl.

I stir them up with my garden spade, but sometimes I use a trowel.

I feed them with the leftovers from breakfast, dinner and tea.

With a solemn vow, I promise my worms, that one day they’ll get me!


If someone asks me how I do it, I adopt a lowered tone.

My little ways aren’t little ways, I’d like to be widely known!

I ask them into my potting shed, and then I close the door,

Then I bonk them on the head and then I drop them to the floor.

Then I feed them with the leftovers from breakfast, dinner and tea.

With a solemn vow, I promise my worms, that one day they’ll get me!


Paul J Openshaw January 2012

Swallow was possibly the first song I wrote after moving to Dorset in October 1994. I lived in a cottage on Windy Ridge in the Piddle Valley. This was also the summer home for swallows, swifts and house martins galore and therefore probably where inspiration for the lyrics was drawn. Originally it had four verses with one for each season. There is a youtube version: Swallow. The track can be heard on Soundcloud.



Winter sees the skeletal trees, the chilly blast and the storm.

Mortals strive to stay alive and shelter in the warm.

In the hold of icy cold, when farm and field lie fallow,

Cast an eye to southern sky and the homeward flight of the swallow.



The windy roar, the frosty hoar do truly take their toll,

Blight the span of mouse and man and freeze the heart and soul.

Then by nature’s quirk of fate, the leaves form on the willow,

Then earth can take her stock and wake to the homeward flight of the swallow.



To balance mend, the rains descend, to swell the hip and haw,

Deck the fields and trees to yield a bounteous autumn store.

‘Though, I’ll never fully understand the instincts fledgelings follow,

For wing and beak, I touch my peak, to the homeward flight of the swallow.


Paul J Openshaw (1995 ish)

I wrote these words two or three years ago and yes, she did actually say “I’m not bringing you with me again”. If only I had stood my ground. A trip to Ikea is simply not my idea of fun. It is probably gender related, but I did hear a bloke say the other day that he quite liked Ikea? On the other hand, on one occasion at the check out, the man in the next aisle did turn to his wife and say “do you mean to tell me that you’ve brought me all this way for four bloody candles”! Now that is a sentiment to which I can relate. There is a youtube link Variety Show. The track can be heard on Soundcloud.


Have you noticed the spring in my step?

The clouds have all gone from the sky

Can you hear a lilt in my voice?

Have you seen the light in my eye?

If things go according to plan,

I will be the happiest of men.

I still can’t believe that she said,

“I’m not bringing you with me again”


Not bringing me back to Ikea,

Oh joy, oh rapture, oh bliss!

There’s nothing I’d like less,

Than the next Ikea trip not to miss!

It’s just not “match of the day”,

And they don’t sell beer, but then,

It won’t be a problem since hearing the words,

“I’m not bringing you with me again”


The thought of not doing the trudge

Has lightened my sense of dread.

If she should change her mind, I think

It will really screw up my head.

You’ll see steam coming out of my ears,

As slowly I count one to ten,

And remind her of the vow she made,

“I’m not bringing you with me again”


She must have noticed me yawning.

There can’t be much less exciting,

Whiling away what seems like forever,

The prospect is riot inciting.

She may need some reminding, but

I won’t let her forget the time when,

She happened to mention in passing…

“I’m not bringing you with me again”


Paul J Openshaw (2010)

Judging by feedback, most people have encountered the Grumbly-Bottoms as neighbours at some time in their lives. Call them what you will, I have had my fair share too. I play the song in the key of D and it lends itself to DADGAD. There is a version of this song on youtube: Grumbly Bottom. You can hear the track on Soundcloud.

Grumbly Bottom

They never say “good morning” or “what a lovely day”!                      

I don’t know why they do it but they look the other way.

They look the other way and they never say a word, then                

They wander down the garden path as though they haven’t heard

If our house was number ten, with washing on the line,      

Mr and Mrs Grumbly-Bottom would live at number nine.


They never seem to have the time for idle chit or chat

Though I can see the benefits of doing things like that

I don’t let it bother me though it is a little grim

I don’t let it bother me though it seems to bother him

If our house was number eight, three doors down from eleven,

Mr and Mrs Grumbly-Bottom would live at number seven.


They’ve got issues over parking and who parks here or there.

I’m not really bothered, who puts what car where.

It’s not that I’m complaining, it’s just a little tough,

Because however good I try to be, it’s never good enough.

If our house was number six, with terracotta shingle on the drive,

Mr and Mrs Grumbly-Bottom would live at number five.


I try to keep things tidy and minimise the mess.

Maintain an equilibrium and stifle any stress.

Keep within the boundaries, never cross the lines,

Keep within my borders and try to read the signs.

If our house was number four, with little birdies singing up a tree,

Mr and Mrs Grumbly-Bottom would live at number three.


Once or twice, I’ve heard it said they talk behind my back.

If I say something is grey, then they will say its black!

I think they like to grumble, and that’s ok by me.

And perhaps the best way forward is to simply disagree!

If our house was number two, as my name isn’t John,

Mr and Mrs Grumbly-Bottom would live at number one.


They never say “good morning” or “what a lovely day”

I don’t know why they do it but they look the other way.

They look the other way, and they never say a word, then

They wander down the garden path as though they haven’t heard.


Paul J Openshaw 2008

We were on holiday in the Algarve when the ideas for DIY came pouring out. I think the holiday was a welcome relief from the fact that everything at home, at the time, was covered in brick dust. This followed a decision to remove a chimney breast, which ended up in completely gutting the whole house to turn it into something which could be mistaken for an Ikea show home. The only thing which is missing is the podium and, oh yes, footprints across the floor. You can hear the track on Soundcloud.


It’s not that I’m a lazy sod, you may think it’s a little odd,

Even if it costs a wad, I don’t do DIY.

I’m not handy now at all, for any job big or small.

I am not the man to call. I don’t do DIY


I don’t do DIY, DIY I do not.

I think I’d die, if I had to try, to do some DIY.

I don’t do DIY, DIY I do not.

I got a woman who does the lot, so I don’t do DIY.


Grow your own, has no appeal. I could never get the feel.

ATS can change my wheel. I don’t do DIY.

I’m not one to wield a hoe, I don’t believe in have a go,

I don’t really want to know, I don’t do DIY.


Leaky washer, dripping tap, broken ball cock, pipe or trap,

The best way to avoid mishap, I don’t do DIY.

I won’t use a power tool, to me it’s never seemed that cool,

I just stick to a basic rule. I don’t do DIY.


Hanging shelves is not my bag, B and Q is not my tag,

The way to minimise a snag, I don’t do DIY.

I’m no good with screw or nail. I won’t hang a curtain rail.

It’s written in my holy grail, I don’t do DIY.


Paul J Openshaw 2009

Before listening to this song, then click on the words Jumping Jimmy and have a look at the legend in action at the Brittania Inn, Portland and also at the Golden Eagle in Weymouth . After looking at those two clips then look at this one, which was taken on a mobile phone on 25th May 2013. He has been described as the “worst rock and roll singer in the world”. To be frank, I have nothing but admiration for anyone with that sort of self belief, especially when it is very much against the odds. You can hear the track on Soundcloud.

Jumping Jimmy Thunder

His mother called him Adrian,

His other name was Still.

I’ve not seen anything like him,

I can’t think that I will.

He doesn’t sound like Elvis,

But to be fair to Jumping Jim,

It could be said that Elvis

Doesn’t sound like him.


When there’s only been room to stand,

I have seen him down the pub.

I have watched him pull the punters,

At North Portland working mans club,

Gyrating like a lunatic

And giving of his best.

I have seen him work an audience,

Like a man who is possessed.


Who can tell what’s right or wrong?

I admire a man who’s tried.

No one’s ever laughed until,

They’ve laughed until they’ve cried.

I’ve laughed until I’ve cried,

Until I haven’t had a choice.

Let no one ever tell you,

That you haven’t got a voice


If a rule cannot be broken,

Then it cannot be a rule.

Don’t let a grockle pull you down,

Or tell you you’re a fool.

Some day I tend to think

That there are those around who’ll strive,

To jump like Jimmy Thunder

And keep his dream alive!


Paul J Openshaw (2008 ish)

Any couple who have been together for any length of time can probably relate to the daily ritual of the morning brew. Life would not be the same without it. You can listen to the track on Soundcloud.

The Morning Brew

Each and every morning he’s awake at half past five,

An early start has always been his way.

Something’s never alter much and something’s rarely change

He likes an early rise to meet the day.

He wipes the sleep out of his eyes and trundles down the stairs,

Then from the tap he fills the kettle up.

He makes a pot of tea and lets it brew upon the side,

And that’s before he takes his wife a cup!


He tiptoes up the stairs so he can leave it by her bed,

He rests it on a paper or a book.

She doesn’t really stir but once or twice he’s seen her eyelids

Flicker open as she tries to take a look.

It’s surprising how it is that you can read a situation,

By some simple intuition or a tone.

He whispers, “have a nice day” as he bids a fond farewell,

And then, he grabs his car keys and his mobile phone!


When he’s gone to work, she grunts and clambers out of bed

Into her bedroom slippers and her gown,

She takes the lukewarm mug from where he left it where he did,

She finds the stairs to wend the short way down.

She sticks it in the microwave to heat it quickly through,

And that’s before she goes to run the bath.

Then before she knows it, she has dressed and shut the door

And off to work, she’s whizzed off down the path!


He’s mostly home in half an hour from finishing at three,

It’s almost like a programme in his brain.

He reaches in the microwave to find the morning brew

He tips it in the sink and down the drain.

There is no rhyme or reason and there really is no logic

If there is, it’s one I cannot see,

But you wouldn’t want to know the downward turn a day can take,

If she doesn’t get her morning cup of tea!


Paul J Openshaw (2009 ish)

This actually occurred at Herston Holt steam railway station just outside Swanage. We had walked down from the campsite and, having just missed a train, had to wait for 45 minutes for the next one. The not quite two year old “Mr Grizzle” was in his push chair. To this day, when he takes a notion, he still waddles around with a bucket on his head. You can hear the track on Soundcloud.

Bucket On His Head

He was never one to shy away from trouble.

From an early age he’d take life by the throat.

He was never one for cuddles and he didn’t like to fuss,

And he’d always let you know if you were getting on his goat.

Every hour was action packed until a day was done.

“It could be just his teeth” is what they said.

Everywhere he went he used to grizzle,

Until his granddad put a bucket on his head.


He always likes an element of danger.

Risk is simply outside his domain.

He’ll always find a way to turn a situation round,

Even when it means that he is up against the grain.

Sometimes he’ll throw a wobbly, that is just the way it is,

Especially when its time to go to bed.

Everywhere he went he used to grizzle,

Until his granddad put a bucket on his head.


He wears it in the garden and it helps to keep him dry.

He wears it in the house and up the street.

We never need a naughty step to mend his little ways.

When he’s verging on a tantrum, then it really works a treat.

It doesn’t seem to pose much of a problem.

At least that is until he’s needing fed.

Everywhere he went he used to grizzle,

Until his granddad put a bucket on his head.


It never fills him with a sense of trauma.

In fact it always makes him want to smile.

When you lift the bucket, you will find his little face.

You can even leave it on for quite a while.

These days we only know him by his little legs and arms,

Though they could belong to someone else instead.

Everywhere he went he used to grizzle,

Until his granddad put a bucket on his head.


Paul J Openshaw (September 2011)

I remember, as a little boy at primary school, using the word geronimo. It was a sort of defiant, dig your heels in, playground noise, which little boys made when they wanted to let off steam. Inspiration for the song came after reading “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee”. The wild west was not that long ago. You can hear the track on Soundcloud.


He came from a home where the buffalo roamed,

And the mountains swept down to the plain.

He learned how to raid and he learned how to trade,

Though his wife and his family were slain.

Like some mighty machine the wheels started to turn,

Against those who could not understand,

But who’d die for the right to do as they did,

For their tribes and their families and land.



He learned how to shoot with an arrow and bow,

The antelope, bison and deer.

To gather and hunt like no other man could,

With an eye that would never show fear.

He learned how to shoot and to kill with a bullet,

From the barrel of a rifle or gun,

Though his visions and dreams seemed to pale and dim,

When he saw what the white man had done.



The west never came much more wild than this,

That’s what the newspapers read,

As he fought against those who believed in their hearts,

That the only good Indians were dead.



He lived to be old, which to some would seem strange,

For a man who could never be tamed.

Perhaps in his mind, he could never let go,

In defiance of those whom he blamed.

With the lust and the hunger and thirsting for soil,

And the claims for its minerals and wealth,

Who could make that an aim or a standard or a goal,

Without feelings for wisdom and stealth? 


Paul J Openshaw (2002 ish)

Having got off the ferry at Cork, we drove out onto the Beara peninsula in Ireland and kept driving until we literally ran out of road. It was approx 8pm. I rolled down the car window to ask a farmer (Michael McCarthy) if he knew of anywhere we might pitch a tent for the night. Lyrics for the song are virtually word for word as the situation unfolded. He wanted to know whether all the nurses in England were virgins. He wanted to know whether he could get viagra on the NHS. I could not pick a pen up fast enough! 

If you click on the words Michael McCarthy, it will take you to a video recording of the song, which was made at Bunkfest 2011. This was my contribution to “Writers in the Round”. There is also a youtube version: Michael McCarthy. You can hear the track on Soundcloud.

Michael McCarthy

You can put up your tent on a space on my farm,

You’ll be safe there from danger and all kinds of harm.

Do you sleep in a bag? Do you sleep in your jeans?

Would you use a French letter or some other means?

Is it true in your country, there’s a national health?

Is it true that it’s paid for by your country’s wealth?

I’d love just to ask you and I’d love you to say,

If I needed some viagra would I have to pay?


I am Michael McCarthy, I’m a farmer from Kerry,

I’m as Irish as Irish as ever you’ve seen.

I’d like to find out all the ways of your country,

The people you’ve met and the places you’ve been.

I have noticed the absence of hair on your head,

Could that be from spending too much time in bed?

Is it true that a man with as little hair as you

Has libido to spare would you say that was true?

If you’d like to swim, you can swim from my beach,

It’s not too far away, it’s within easy reach.

You can swim without clothes what a freshness that brings,

I’ll stay here on the shore and watch over your things.

How many children have you managed to bear?

What are they doing and do you know where?

I’d consider it an honour if you conceived on my land,

But if you don’t feel quite like it, I’ll give you a hand,

And if you bear a child, when time’s course has run,

Would you write back and tell me if it’s a daughter or a son,

And if it’s a son and he looks just like me,

I’ll allow you to camp on my farmland for free.

When he’s full grown, I give you my word,

He can take on this holding with a good suckler herd.

It’s a good place for raising the fruit of the womb,

And with twenty-three acres there’s plenty of room,

For a young growing lad needs to find his own feet,

Where there’s plenty potatoes and plenty of meat.

He can spend all his time in the ways that I do,

Making polite conversation with people like you!

Paul J Openshaw (2005)

A song of gentle optimism. I play this in DADGAD and capo on third fret. This song probably needs a bigger voice than mine. We live in hope! You can hear the track on Soundcloud.

Maybe Love

There are far horizons, where a traveller stands,

Casting eyes across deserted sands,

And there are regrets to overcome.

Rivers in flood can prove too hard for some,

And there are miles of empty spaces.

There are wild and windy places,


But there’s a road, leading to your door.

There’s a road, though there are tolls to pay.

There’s a light in your window,

Here’s a man looking for a role to play,

Maybe love, maybe love will find a way.

There is darkness when shadows cast their spell,

There is no heaven if there is no hell

And there can be no laughter if there are no tears,

Though sometimes it can be hard to see past the fears.

When the dark clouds roll across a thunderous sky,

There are millions of answers to the question why,

There are those who work against the common good.

Best intentions get misunderstood,

And there are alleys, which are blind where some,

Would plunder innocence for every crumb,

And every rose bears a prickly thorn,

And a smile can hide a heap of bitter scorn.

Paul J Openshaw 1996


© Copyright 2020 Paul Openshaw.