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The Cactus

From the Album  India

I was just a young boy on the day
The cactus came to town
People flooded onto the streets
There was excitement all around
Known throughout the land
For a fist as hard as iron
But a just man with a heart as warm
As any you will find

Some said he’d met his match this time
From a man called lightning bolt
So-called because he could be seen
But he could not be caught
Striking hard then vanishing
Not seeming to touch the ground
As the fight grew closer
People gathered round

Roll up, clap your hands
For the greatest fighters in the land
Such courage you will never see
If you live to be one hundred and three

With preparations made the bets are laid
The giants both shake hands
They take off their shirts, eyes alert
Power at their command
With knuckles bare, they stand square
The fight had now begun
Men of honour, proud and strong
Malice was there none

Bolt strikes first, a mighty blow
With the same effect as sun on snow
The cactus lands a punch so hard
The bolt is stunned and lets down his guard
The cactus tries to knock him down
But lightning strikes with a cracking sound
Their faces now are glowing red
As punches land on stubborn heads
They fight like lions strong and proud
Encouraged by the cheering crowd
Eighty rounds had passed I know
When the cactus lands the killer blow

The crowd had gone when the bolt comes around
They embrace each other tight
Reliving every moment
As they drank on through the night
Next time it will be different
Was the promise that Bolt gave
They toasted to the next time
And said goodbye with a friendly wave

The cactus has long since been killed
For nothing more than a forgotten hill
Sent to fight someone else’s fight
While they slept soundly through the night


This started with a line that contained “when the circus came to town.” A circus would have been a good subject to write about, but once again the song was highjacked, this time by an imaginary bare-knuckle fighter known as The Cactus.

Boxing is often referred to as “the sport of gentlemen,” not because it was practised by gentlemen but because boxers had to follow rules as opposed to street fighting where anything goes. I saw a lot of violence in the many clubs and pubs I worked at, although ironically, the worst incident I ever saw was at a wedding. I could never understand the sheer hatred that fuelled the violence, which was often sparked by the most trivial of incidents. It was a pleasure to meet the two men in this song who are tough, brave fighters who have no animosity towards each other. They respect each other and fight for money, not because someone accidentally spilt beer on them.