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John Warner's "Sandpit Picket" - Review
The Loaded Dog folk club, October 23, 2004.

By Chris Maltby
Posted Monday, October 25, 2004

John Warner started the night with the premiere of his new collection of songs (plus a couple of poems) "Millennium of the Child" (since renamed "Sandpit Picket" for reasons which will become apparent). Other than "Pack O' Pirates" and the well-known "Llewelyn Walking", which I reckon is close to being the perfect folk song, there are 8 new songs on the broad theme of children and especially childcare as work.

John's great songwriting talent shone through on every song

Drawing on his experience as a childcare worker, John covers the expected areas of learning and play, and the joy of small triumphs through to the big picture issues of market fundamentalism, the pay and conditions of childcare workers, paedophilia and even the burden that children bear in war and its aftermath.

John's great songwriting talent shone through on every song. His "Children of War" is a scarifying account of the effect of war on children with an impassioned plea for a new and better millennium of the child. He followed that with a companion piece to Llewelyn called "Emily Jumping" where a toddler finds the courage to jump for the first time.

The next three songs touched on the workplace, "Leaving" tells of the reasons so many carers give up with "only their comrades know what is lost" when they go. "Paedophilia Panic" asks if the pendulum of concern has swung too far to the detriment of male carers and kids, while "More Blokes" is a call to arms for more men in the job. By using the universal form of a work song John linked the childcare burden to the hard and menial work of sailors and prisoners made easier by a song.

If he had led the way the Dog audience would have been off down Johnston St...

Then he linked the work and play themes with consummate skill with "Dignity of Play". The chorus line says it all - "play is childrens' working day" - and yet another great chorus to sing. After a quieter interlude on separation with the delightful "Mum's Got To Go" he gave a rousing and tub-thumping John Warner finish with "Sandpit Picket".

If he had led the way the Dog audience would have been off down Johnston St "waving our bears and our buckets and our spades until this battle's won"! The volume of the chorus was a sure sign that John has a deservedly special place in the hearts of the Dog audience.

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