Article MT273

Note: Place cursor on graphics for citation and further information.
Sound clips are shown by the name of the song/tune being in underlined bold italic red text.  Click the name and your installed MP3 player will start.

King's Head Folk Club

Some of the traditional performers at this
North London folk club 1968 - 70

[Introduction]   [Tracklists]   [Guests]   [CD One]   [CD Two]   [Credits]

Track lists:

CD One:    CD Two:
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
Toast - Jack Smith
Bonny Udny - Daisy Chapman
Dark Eyed Sailor - Percy Webb
Kitty from Ballinamore - Seamus Ennis
Banks of Claudy - Albert Shaw
'Arry, 'Arry, 'Arry, 'Arry, - Terry Vosper
Three Reels - Barry & Gorman
Banks of the Clyde - Alf Wildman
Mountains of Mourne - Meg Aitken
Benefit Concert - Albert Shaw
Bunch of Violets - Daisy Chapman
Jealousy - Jack Smith
Rambling Boys ... Oliver Mulligan
Country Carrier - Percy Webb
Danny Boy - Meg Aitken
How Could I Marry - Jack Smith
Died for Love - Alf Wildman
Fairies' Hornpipe - Seamus Ennis
Faithful Sailor Boy - Percy Webb
Down in the Valley - Daisy Chapman
Flash Company - Phoebe Smith
Three Flowers - Freddie McKay
Goshens Cockups - Jack Smith
Kissin in the Dark - Daisy Chapman
    1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
Nobody Noticed Me - Bob Cann -
Lay Him Away ... Albert Shaw
Go and Leave Me - Percy Webb
London Lights - Lizzie Higgins
Ramsey Ram - Alf Wildman
Londonderry - Barry & Gorman
Game of All Fours - Phoebe Smith
My Old Shoes - Lizzie Higgins
Christmas Day ... Freddie McKay
Horn of the Hunter - Albert Shaw
Pinch of Snuff - Seamus Ennis
Granny's Old Armchair - Jack Smith
Tiddler - George Belton
Skibbereen - Tim Lyons
Rap a Tap Tap - Percy Webb
Rose of Mooncoin - Barry & Gorman
Rich Farmer from Chester - Jack Smith
Betsy Bell - Lizzie Higgins
P'rambulator - Percy Webb
Wild Rapperee - Albert Shaw
Bailiff's Daughter ... - Alf Wildman
False Bride - Seamus Ennis
Young Taylor - Jack Smith
Tunes - Scan Tester
 Total:79:11  Total:76:42


For us, it probably all started with skiffle in our early teens - I played guitar, Danny played tea-chest bass.  Then, like so many embryo folkies, our musical interests were combined with politics, and we spent several years going on CND Marches and various demos, singing lustily.  It turns out that we were both at the American Embassy demo - but didn't meet then,

While at college in north London, I had the good fortune to be given a Singers' Club membership card, and ended up attending pretty-well every week in term time from 1961 to '63.  Returning home to Surrey after completing my teacher training, I got involved in running the Fighting Cocks folk club from Autumn 1963 to '67.  I first attended the Sidmouth Festival in August 1964.  Arthur Knevett and I so enjoyed the traditional music and song we encountered there that we decided that the Fighting Cocks (until then, a club without any particular musical policy) should book only traditional guests ...  which meant revivalists who only sang traditional songs, plus the few true traditional singers who we knew about in those days.

At around the same time, Danny heard a very young Bob Davenport in a Soho coffee bar, was turned on to traditional music, and attended The Fox folk club in Islington (run by Reg Hall and Bob Davenport) regularly from 1964 until it closed in 1968.  We met at Sidmouth 1966 and married the following year, living in Epsom, Surrey.

From 1966-71 we visited lots of wonderful musicians and singers, such as Scan Tester, Bob Cann, Phoebe Smith, Oscar Woods, Bob Hart, Percy Webb ...  and we saw Harry Cox!

In 1968 I got a teaching job in Paddington, and so we moved to Camden Town that summer - almost exactly as The Fox folk club closed.  Presumably because of our Fighting Cocks experience, we were asked by a group of enthusiasts to help run a new traditional club to be started in Islington at the King's Head pub, which had a nice big, almost square room at the back.  Its first night was in September 1968.

The King's Head club was special for several reasons.  It was helpful that it was an Irish pub with an Irish landlord (John) and regular sessions in the bar (Felix Doran and family played there on Sunday lunchtimes, and fiddler Martin Byrnes was a sometime bedsit resident in the pub).  We can't remember the exact details, but there was some sort of committee for the club, which included Tony Foxworthy, the Tappers dance band and, later John and Jill Hodkinson.  The club was unusual (possibly unique) in that there was a house band which played for dancing, and every week Tony Foxworthy would call a dance at the beginning of each half of the evening.  Most importantly, with the demise of The Fox, we had decided that we would only book traditional - what we now call source - performers ...  though, as you can see from the programme, we bent the rules when it suited us.

The Residents were: Tony Foxworthy, The Tappers, Barry Dransfield & Clive Palmer, Jim Bainbridge, John and Gill Hodkinson, Rod and Danny Stradling.  Regulars were: Tony Hall, Dave & Peta Webb, John Wright, Tony Engle, Mel Dean, Terry Vosper, Ken Hamer, Noreen (we never knew her surname), Oliver Mulligan, East Suffolk Country Band - particularly Chris Morley.  Locals included: Gabe Sullivan, Martin Byrnes, Bobby Casey, Felix Doran, Freddie McKay, and John Foreman.

Towards the end of 1970, Danny was about to give birth to our first child, and we had booked all the traditional performers we knew about - twice, John had left the pub and its future looked uncertain.  It seemed like a good time to call it a day with the King's Head folk club.

With the help of Ken Keable (fiddler in The Tappers) we have been able to reconstruct some of the King's Head club's programme:

30.10.68 - Scan Tester
6.11.68 - Alf Wildman
8.1.69 - Phoebe Smith
26.2.69 - Jack Smith
16.4.69 - George Belton
23.4.69 - St George's Day
30.4.69 - East Sufflok Country Band
7.5.69 - Singaround
14.5.69 - John Foreman
21.5.69 - Singaround
28.5.69 - Bob Cann and Charlie Bate
4.6.69 - Clog and Stepdancers
11.6.69 - Fred Jordan
18.6.69 - Grand Barn Dance
25.6.69 - Raymond Rowland and Liam Farrell
2.7.69 - Percy Webb
9.7.69 - Singaround
16.7.69 - Seamus Ennis
10.9.69 - The Happy Wanderers
    17.9.69 - Film Night
24.9.69 - Tim Lyons
1.10.69 - Ken Langsbury
8.10.69 - Lizzie Higgins
15.10.69 - Sing and dance around
22.10.69 - Jack Smith
29.10.69 - Scan Tester
5.11.69 - Bob and Carole Pegg and Freddie McKay
12.11.69 - Meg Aitken
19.11.69 - Margaret Barry and Michael Gorman
26.11.69 - Residents night
3.12.69 - Alf Wildman
10.12.69 - An evening of Morris Jigs
17.12.69 - Music Hall night
18.2.70 - Percy Webb
25.2.70 - Alf Wildman and Tim Lyons
11.3.70 - Lizzie Higgins
1.4.70 - Albert Shaw
15.4.70 - Daisy Chapman and Willie Scott

The past, as we know, is 'another country' and it must be difficult for today's younger readers to realise just how financially constrained we were in the Sixties.  The cassette recorder had not yet come to the UK, so in 1967 we bought a little Philips portable reel-to-reel machine with 3 inch reels, running at 1 7/8 i.p.s.  I don't know what these tapes cost, but we certainly couldn't afford one every week!  Similarly with cameras; we had one, but could only afford the cheapest of films - which are sadly deteriorated after half a century.  Today we could have recorded everything in video on our mobiles!

Suffice it to say that we have very few, very bad photos of some of the traditional performers who came to the club.  Fortunately the Philips tapes were rather better, and modern noise reduction software, employed by Jim Ward of Country Branch Records (thanks, Jim) makes the relatively few recordings we were able to make, at least listenable, if not good.

So, these CDs contain some of the best of our recordings of traditional performers who came to this London folk club between 1968 and 1970.  Our sincere thanks to them for their songs and tunes - we hope you will enjoy them.

Some of the club's guests - in alphabetical order:

Meg Aitken: Meg was a busker who Danny first heard singing in Villiers Street, outside Charing Cross Station.  She went on to sing As Long as he Needs Me on a record of London buskers, and we believe her accompanist on The Last Thing on my Mind at the club was Don Partridge, who was also on the buskers record.  Unfortunately, the recording of that is terrible, so we've got Danny Boy and Mountains of Mourne instead.

We know nothing about her, but while looking for at least a photo, (which we didn't find) we discovered, from her grandson, online, that her name was not Aitken but Aikman. Whoever she was, the singing is blinding! 

Margaret Barry and Michael Gorman: Margaret and Michael were great heroes, and we lived in Camden Town where they seemed to be built into the foundations of every pub.  She was a street singer, and her strong style is obviously built to catch the ear of the passerby.  Margaret moved to Camden Town in the early fifties: to quote Robin Roberts in the booklet of the Rounder Portraits record of her, 'Alan (Lomax) was so taken with her he ... brought her to London to be a sort of housekeeper cum cook, which proved amusing, especially when she made three prized sirloin steaks into an Irish stew for a dinner party.'

This of course was not the Margaret Barry we knew; it was the power of her voice, and the passion of the singing, combined with the beautiful skilled fiddle of Michael Gorman that had entranced all who saw them, for many decades.

George Belton: George was born in Edenbridge, Kent in 1898.  He lived near Arundel, Sussex, and worked as a horseman all his life.  For some reason, Has Anybody Seen My Tiddler is the only song of his we have recorded.

Bob Cann: Bob and Charlie Bate came to the club together and did an evening of very west country, mainly Padstow, music.  Danny had first gone to Padstow in 1966, and Rod went the following year with Lynn Breeze, the beautiful girl in the dancing picture, who became a regular at the club - and later did the record sleeves for Old Swan Brand and Gamesters, Pickpockets and Harlots LPs for the Old Swan Band.

We think Bob also came on his own once, playing his wide repertoire of music gleaned over many years of playing for barn dances (and stepdancing), with the Pixies, a tradition beautifully continued by his grandson Mark Bazely.  Following on from this we were able to invite him to the first English Country Music Weekend in 1975.

Daisy Chapman: Daisy came to the club with Willie Scott, the border shepherd, who was very much part of the '60/'70s folk scene - later on Alison McMorland spent a lot of time with him, and took him to many festivals.  At some time he seems to have taken a shine to the lovely Daisy Chapman - which is how we got her to come to London from Aberdeen.

We met Daisy at Blairgowrie where we were blown away by her singing, though some of the stereotypically dour regulars said she shouldn't have been there because she wasn't 'traditional', ie, it seems, maybe because she wasn't a traveller.  She and her husband had farmed for many years until her health forced them to give up the farm.  They then moved to Aberdeen where he became a railwayman. In her free time she sang in choirs, but it wasn't seemly for a decent housewife to disport herself musically in public.  She knew loads of songs, and it was when her husband died that she started singing them in public ... as was often the way.  We were so lucky to have met Daisy and delighted to have been able to introduce her to our London friends.

Seamus Ennis: These are the pictures used on his two records, and on them you can see Chris and Jenny Morley, Tony Hall and his wife, Ken Hamer, and other regulars.  Seamus was a great hero of anyone interested in traditional music; singer, astonishing piper and a wonderful storyteller.  That night there were more people in the club room than you would believe possible!

Lizzie Higgins: Lizzie was the daughter of Jeannie Robertson, and not necessarily very interested in singing professionally as her mother had done.  She came from a large Scots traveller family, all of whom were performers, and in fact Ray Fisher had lived briefly with Lizzie and Jeannie in Aberdeen when she was at college - what a gift, eh?  Lizzie was very happy, and well paid, gutting herring, and only wanted to do the occasional gig.  We had met her at the Blairgowrie festival, and very luckily for us, she was pleased to spend the evening with us - and a terrific evening it was too, as any of you who ever saw her will know.  We could find no other recording of London Lights, and feel she dug it out specially for her London gig.

Tim Lyons: Tim was a dear friend who had been living in London for some years - we had an amount of stick for booking him, because he wasn't 'traditional', but we said "it's our club ..." and he was a stunning ballad singer in the west of Ireland style.  Tim was booked twice, one night when we weren't in fact in the King's Head but at The Shamrock, just down the road, and Tim was, as always, terrific.

Freddie McKay: Freddie was a stalwart of The Fox and we were delighted when he would sometimes come to the King's Head and do his marvellous monologues or sing those particularly 'Freddie' songs.  A very dear man loved by all.  Many years later, Oak actually reformed to sing at a memorial service held for him at Cecil Sharp House.

Oliver Mulligan: Oliver, originally from Co Monaghan, is a much respected singer of mainly Irish traditional songs, most in English and a few in Irish.

Albert Shaw: A Black Country singer - I think he said he was from Cradley Heath. He mentioned listening to Irish radio, which he could often receive at home.  I suspect that his mother (who had spent some time working as a chainmaker) may have been Irish, and this may have influenced his choice of songs - several of which were relatively modern Irish ballads.  Albert's son told Taffy Thomas that the four years - between his retirement from the steelworks and his death - spent singing in the folk clubs, had been the happiest time of his life.

Jack Smith: Jack was an old friend who had been brought to the Fighting Cocks club in Kingston by Tom Dillon.  He was a settled Gypsy living in Milford, on the A3100 just outside Godalming, Surrey.  He earned his living as a knife and scissors grinder, and had been a very well-known character, together with his donkey cart, for many years around Godalming.  He was one of those Gypsies who had no trouble at all relating to the gorgios, and made everyone love him by the strength of his personality.

He was also a poaching pal of Pop Maynard's, and it would seem that they both poached much of each other's repertoires!

Phoebe Smith: Danny had been intrigued and absolutely stunned by seeing Phoebe at the Keele Festival, and then saw her do a blinding gig at The Fox, where she had been brought by Bob Roberts.  The barman refused to serve her, as a Gypsy - but Bob soon put him right on that score!  There's a lovely picture of Bob and Phoebe step-dancing together that night, on the back cover of the Veteran CD of her.

We were properly introduced to Phoebe by Chris Morley, leader of the East Suffolk Country Band, who probably did more to give outsiders access to the traditional music and song of east Suffolk than any of the better-known, and later, activists there.  As guest musicians in the band, we played at Phoebe's granddaughter's wedding, and then we spent a New Year's Eve with her in Blaxhall Ship.  It was one of the several times that The Ship had recently changed hands, and the new landlord wasn't entirely au fait with requirements.  He'd booked a piano accordion player for the night!  After a while, Phoebe decided that she fancied a bit of a sing - stood up facing him, and sang him down!  We became friends and visited her often after that.  She did the club twice, coming with her husband Joe, and her oldest son Big Joe.

Such were the dynamics of Phoebe's singing that it was virtually impossible to record her on the sort of equipment we had at that time.

Scan Tester: We knew Scan well from the Fox, and when we were living in Epsom, from 1967-8, we recorded him for a little record company that Vic Gammon, then living in south London, had started.  We had already met Scan's daughter Daisy Sherlock and her husband, with whom Scan lived, and spent the day at their house, talking over his life and recording his repertoire. Reg Hall drove him to the club, as he drove him to most of his gigs.

You can read Reg's exhaustive account of Scan's life and times in I Never Played to Many Posh Dances, now available in PDF facsimile form on the Musical Traditions website:

Terry Vosper: Terry was one of our 'locals', and 'Arry, 'Arry,'Arry was one of his favourite songs - ours too!  His liking for songs from the music hall came from East End parties and pubs - and he was also a member of the Player’s Theatre.

Terry was born around 1934 and lived in Stepney, East London all his life.  He worked as cabinet maker / joiner, and became interested in trad jazz as a teenager and went to West End jazz clubs on a regular basis from the ‘50s until a few years before his death in 2009.  He discovered the early folk clubs via the jazz clubs as so many others did.  As well as the King’s Head, he was subsequently also a regular at the MT Club at the King and Queen until a few years before his death.

Percy Webb: Percy was a darling man who lived in Tunstall, sang regularly in the Blaxhall Ship, and was a rare member of that group who frequented the Ipswich folk club.  (His father was a shepherd from the age of 9 to 73, and he died feeding the sheep.)  Danny sings two of his songs, The Faithful Sailor and Go And Leave Me, one of which she swapped with him for the Wild Colonial Boy.  This is the song which was so derided by Bob Hart, of Snape, who said that in the pub they only wanted to hear that, so he couldn't sing his more serious songs there.  We had to record Bob at home - and he never came to the King's Head club.

Alf Wildman: Alf was one of Fred Hamer's singers, from Shefford, Bedfordshire.  He was born in Colesden in 1909, and had retired from farming when Fred recorded him.  His repertoire of music hall and traditional songs made him a popular attraction at the local folk song clubs.

Rod and Danny Stradling - April 2012

The Songs and Tunes:

Roud numbers quoted are from the databases, The Folk Song Index and The Broadside Index, continually updated, compiled by Steve Roud.  Currently containing over 311,000 records between them, they are described by him as 'extensive, but not yet exhaustive'.  Copies are held at: The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, London; Taisce Ceol Duchais Eireann, Dublin; and The School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh.  The Folk Song Index is also accessible on-line at:

Child numbers, where quoted, refer to entries in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child, Boston, 1882-98.  Laws numbers, where quoted, refer to entries in American Balladry from British Broadsides by G Malcolm Laws Jr, Philadelphia, 1957.

In the following Song Notes, all Musical Traditions Records' CDs are referred to only by their Catalogue Numbers (i.e. MTCDxxx), as are all Topic Records' CDs (i.e. TSCDxxx) and Veteran CDs (i.e. VTxxx).  The names of all other CD publishers are given in full.

Omitted words, lines or veses are shown in italics, where we have them.

CD One:

1 - 1  A Toast
Jack Smith, 5.11.69

Here's luck to the man with a ragged coat,
And he's got no wife to mend it.
Bad luck to the man with plenty o' money,
And he ain't got the guts to spend it.

Good drop o' beer, I love you,
You've robbed me from all my clothes.
But good drop o' beer, I love you,
And down my throat you goes.

I have several good reasons in drinking,
And one has just entered my head;
If a man should not drink when he's living,
How the hell can he drink when he's dead?

The big bee flies high, and the little bee
He gathers the honey;
A poor man works hard all the bloody week,
While the Government pockets his money!

Let the wealthy and the great
Roll in splendour in my state,
I'll envy them not, and I declare it.
I eat my own ham, my chicken and lamb,
And I shear my own sheep, and I wear it.

I have lawns, I have bowers, I have fruits, I have flowers,
But the lark o' the morning's me 'larmer;
So jolly boys now, here's "God speed the plough;
Here's long life and success to the farmer!"

I had heard some of this toast before, and heard it again from Wiggy Smith a good while after.  Then, when producing the Mike Yates Gypsy record, Here's Luck to a Man ...  (MTCD320), bits of it appear from Joe Jones in St Mary's Cray, Kent.  And today, with the publication of Topic's new Voice of the People series, on I'm a Romany Rai, CD 1, track 14, we find Jack Smith's first three verses, exactly the same, in the mouth of Wally Fuller.  Other versions I'd heard started "Here's luck to the man with a ragged coat, and he's got a good wife to mend it / Bad luck to the man with a quid in his hand, and he ain't got the guts to spend it." The last two verses are from the song, God speed the Plough.

1 - 2  Bonnie Udny (Roud 3450)
Daisy Chapman, 15.4.70

Oh Udny, bonnie Udny, ye shine whaur ye stan,
And the more I look on you, ye make my heart warm;
If I were in Udny I would think myself at home,
For it's there I've got a sweetheart, but here I have none.

Over hills and lofty mountains oftimes I hae roamed,
Through hedges and ditches myself all alone,
Through hedges and ditches, aye, and mony's the snare,
I've walkèd to Udny for to visit my dear.

It's nae the lang journey that I hae to go,
Nor is it the many miles that grieve me so;
It is one thing that grieves me and it makes my heart sad,
It's the leavin o' bonnie Udny and yon bonnie lass.

Aa the young lads aboot Udny, they're aa rovin blades,
They take great delight in courtin fair maids;
They take them and kiss them, aye, and spend their money free,
Aa the places in bonnie Scotland, bonnie Udny for me.

'Twas on a certain Sunday, oh me and my love met,
Which caused me on the Monday to mourn o'er my fate;
To spoil my eyes cryin, what a fool I would be,
Since she's gone to court another, let her go where will she.

Let's drink and be merry, let us drink and ging hame,
If we bide here muckle langer, we'll get a bad name;
We'll get a bad name, aye, and we'll fill oorselves fu,
And the lang walks o' Udny they are aa 'til gang through.

A song that sings the praises of Udny (5 miles east of Oldmeldrum) and her 'rovin blades' who 'tak great pleasure in a-courtin fair maids.' Greig has a number of versions with various spellings of the town indicative of local pronunciation.  He comments that the song is constantly being asked for in the columns of papers which encourage the hunt for old songs.  But the song does not originate in Aberdeenshire: Logan's Pedlar's Pack has the related song Bonnie Paisley; the Sam Henry collection has Bonnie Portrush and Greig mentions other versions with Portmore, Kilkenny, Ury and Yarmouth, and links the song back to a song Over Hills and High Mountains dating from the late 17th century in Chapell's Old English Popular Music.

There are 39 instances in Roud, all from Scotland, and other available recordings include Lizzie Higgins (MTCD337-8) Jane Turriff (Springthyme SPRCD 1038), Jock Duncan (SPRCD 1039) and John Strachan (Folktracks 60-066). 

1 - 3  The Dark Eyed Sailor (Roud 265, Laws N35)
Percy Webb, 18.2.70

It's of a comely young lady fair,
Was walking out once to take the air,
She met a sailor all on her way,
So she paid attention, so she paid attention
To hear what he did say.

Said William, "Lady, why roam alone?
The day's near done and night's coming on."
She said, while the tears from her eyes did fall,
"Here's my dark-eyed sailor, here's my dark-eyed sailor,
That's provèd my downfall.

"It's seven long years since he left this land,
He took a gold ring from off my hand.
He broke it then gave half to me,
While the other's rolling, while the other's rolling
At the bottom of the sea."

Said William, "Drive him from off your mind,
For a tarry sailor as good you'll find.
Love turns aside but very soon do go,
Like a winter's morning, like a winter's morning
When the ground is covered with snow."

These words did her fond heart inflame,
And she said: "Tell me you will cast no shame."
She drew a dagger and loud did cry:
"For my dark-eyed sailor, for my dark-eyed sailor
A maid I'll live and die."

"His coal black eyes and his curly hair,
His pleasing tongue did my heart ensnare
Genteel he was not a rake like you
To advise a maiden, to advise a maiden
To slight the jacket blue."

"But still" she said: "I'll never disdain
A tarry sailor, but I'll treat the same;
Go drink his health, here's a piece of kind,
For this dark-eyed sailor, for this dark-eyed sailor
Still claims this heart of mine."

Then half the ring did young William show,
Her heart was distracted, midst joy and woe She said "Welcome, William, I have land and gold
For my dark-eyed sailor, for my dark-eyed sailor
So manly, true and bold."

Now in a village down by the sea
They're joined in wedlock and well agree.
For maids, be true when your lover's away,
For a cloudy morning, for a cloudy morning
Brings home a sunny day.

Many adjectives could be employed to describe Percy Webb's singing; subtle wouldn't normally be one of them - and yet here he gives an uncharacteristically subtle and quiet performance of this well-loved song which has remained popular with country singers 'til the present day.  There is much audience laughter at the end of verse 4, and Percy's a bit put off for a while - we have shown what he sang in another recording, in italics.  Roud's 194 instances are about equally divided between books, broadsides and sound recordings.  Although the great majority are from England, it was widely found in N America, and Gavin Greig found several examples in Scotland.

This is one of a number of modern ballads on the theme of Hind Horn, with parted lovers, broken token, the man's return in disguise, the woman's fidelity tested, ending in a gentle Victorian triumph.  Catnach published the song on a broadside c.1830 and every example that has since turned up relates to that printed set.  The tune is slightly older - Vaughan Williams includes it in one of his Folk Song Suites - and its sophisticated 'doubletting' of the first half of the final phrase shows the influence of the stage, the kind of thing that the folk might adopt, but wouldn't invent.

Other recordings: Bob Hart (MTCD301-2); Walter Pardon (TSCD514); Jack Clark (VT140CD); Charlotte Renalls (VT119); Fred Jordan (TSCD652).

1 - 4  Kitty from Ballinamore (Roud 5172)
Seamus Ennis, 15.7.69

Oh when I was young and full of fun
Like many's a roving blade,
'Twas my delight from morn to night
To court a young fair maid.
With her I'd talk with her I'd walk
As thousands did before,
Oh it's little I knew she would prove untrue,
Young Kitty from Ballinamore.

Young Kitty was tall and handsome
And gentle as a dove.
Ten times a day to me she would say
With me she was in love.
When she'd say this, we would have a kiss,
And I loved her more and more.
Oh but it's little I knew she would prove untrue,
Young Kitty from Ballinamore.
The bitch!

I asked her would she marry me
While I crossed o'er the main,
Or would she just prove single
Until I returned again
She said she would prove single
If I would prove in kind
So we kissed, shook hands and parted
And I left young Kitty behind.

One beautiful Saturday evening
I rode to Georgia Square.
I overtook the mailcart
And the postman met me there;
He handed me a letter
I'll remember ever more,
That young Kitty got wed to a farmer's son
Near the town of Ballinamore.
The bitch!

And on reading this letter over,
And finding all was true,
I turned around all on me heel
Not knowing what to do.
Hard labour I'll give over
And ... I'll do no more
And I'll roam about from pub to pub
For Kitty from Ballinamore.

And come all me handsome sporting blades
A warning take from me,
And never place too much confidence
In any young blonde you see,
For they'll tell you this and they'll you that,
And they'll do what they've done before,
They'll curl your hair and leave you there
Like Kitty from Ballinamore.

This song was sung by Geordie Hanna, who learnt from John Robinson, a Lough Neagh fisherman of Brockagh, and whose favourite it was.  He generally sang Baltimore or sometimes Kate from the Lough Shore following the impulse of singers to localize their songs.  Geordie brought the song neatly into Ulster by setting it in the Co Leitrim village of Ballinamore.  (Baltimore is in South West Cork).  No published version of the song is known, though Hugh Shields had it from Eddie Butcher, Bobbie Hanvey collected it from Harry McCormick of Shrigley, Co Down, and the BBC recorded it from the traveller Winnie Ryan.  Seamus was in a position to have got it from any of these singers.

Kate of Ballinamore, sung by Geordie Hanna of Coalisland, Co Tyrone, is the only version available on CD (TSCD656).

1 - 5  The Banks of Claudy (Roud 266, Laws N40)
Albert Shaw, 1.4.70

It was a summer evening,
All in the month of May,
Down by yon Claudy gardens
I carelessly did stray.
I overheard a fair maid,
And sore she did complain,
'Twas for an absent lover,
Young Johnny was his name. 

I steppèd up unto her
And put her in surprise;
I trow she did not know me,
I being in disguise.
I said "My pretty fair maid,
My joy and heart's delight,
How far have you to wander
This dark and dreary night?"

"It's to the banks of Claudy,
If you'd be pleased to show
Some pity on a stranger
Who knows not where to go.
I'm searching for a young man,
And Johnny is his name,
And it's on the banks of Claudy
I'm told he doth remain."

"This is the banks of Claudy,
Sweet maid, whereon ye stand,
But do not trust young Johnny,
For he's a false young man.
Oh, do not trust young Johnny,
For he'll not meet thee here,
But come with me to yon green wood,
No danger need ye fear."

"If Johnny he were here this night,
He'd keep me from all harm,
But he's in the field of battle,
All in his uniform;
He's in the field of battle,
His ...  he will defy.
Like a royal king of honour
He'll gain the victory."

"It's fourteen weeks or better
Since Johnny left the shore,
To sail the wide seas over
Where foaming billows roar.
He sailed the wide seas over
And crossed the raging main,
But I am told his ship was lost
Hard by the coast of Spain."

Now when she heard this dreadful news
It put her in despair,
With the ringing of her tender hands,
The tearing of her hair.
Said "Since my Johnny's drownèd,
No other man I'll take,
But through lonely woods and valleys
I'll wander for his sake."

And then to see her in this state
I could no longer stand,
I clutched her in my arms
Saying, "Betsy, I'm the man."
Saying, "Betsy, I'm the young man
Has cause thee all this pain,
But since we've met on Claudy's banks
We'll never part again."

A very popular song, with 193 Roud instances, 33 of which are sound recordings.  Unusually, it appears with almost no alternative titles, no matter where it is found - which is pretty equally distributed all over the Anglophone world.  Vaughan Williams heard it from a Mrs Powell and from an un-named Gypsy in the early years of last century, both in Herefordshire - the nearest sightings to Albert's home in the Black Country.

Other CD recordings include: Bob and Jim Copper (TSCD534); Fred Jordan (VTD148CD); Joe Heaney (TSCD518D); Frederick White (EFDSS CD 002); Grayson & Whitter (Document DOCD 8055).

1 - 6  'Arry, 'Arry, 'Arry, 'Arry (Roud 23566)
Terry Vosper, 5.11.69

Oh with Jim Brown, a pal of mine
I always like to go
Round a little pub we know,
A cosy little show.
Now a nice young widow keeps it
And there's something very clear,
Young Harry thinks more of that widow
Than he does the beer.
And while they tell their little tales
Of love, across the bar,
I keeps my chivvy case inside my pot
Ah, but he goes slow and so
I have to whisper in his ear
With every opportunity I've got:

Oh 'Arry, 'Arry, 'Arry, 'Arry
Now you've got a chance to marry
A nice little widow with a nice little pub,
Plenty of money, baccy, beer and grub.
Now, I could come around and see you
And keep you company.
Now wouldn't it be nice
For you and her
And wouldn't it be nice
For you and her?
And wouldn't it be nice for me?

Well, we go round there every night
And help her close the pub.
She takes us in the parlour, then,
And fills us up with grub.
And when the supper's over,
Well, of course, well there you are,
To give the fella 'alf a chance
I strolls into the bar.
But he just sits there moping
With his nose stuck in his jar.
At courting he's as lazy as a Turk;
Why, only yesterday I told him
"Now, if something isn't done,
Sure, the pair of us will have to go to work."

Written in 1902 by Leigh, Murray and Le Brunn, and sung on the Halls by both Fred T Daniels and Alec Hurley.

1 - 7  Miss McLeod's / The Duke of Leinster / The Duke of Leinster's Wife
Margaret Barry & Michael Gorman, 19.11.69

A classic set of reels; the first from O'Neill and the second two from Michael's Co Sligo repertory.  It appears as the final track of CD 1 on his Topic double CD The Sligo Champion (TSCD525D).

1 - 8  The Banks of the Clyde (Roud 1784)
Alf Wildman, 25.2.70

On the banks of the Clyde
Stood a lad and lassie,
The lad's name was Georgie,
The lass's was Belle.
She flung her arms round him
And cried "Do not leave me",
For Georgie was going
To fight for his queen.

So we'll beat the big drum
And we'll play the pipe merrily.
We'll play the dead march
As we carry him along.
We'll take him to the churchyard
And fire three volleys o'er him,
He's a bonny young soldier
Cut down in his prime.

But some years later,
When I met young Georgie,
Dark was the night
And cold was the day.
He asked for a flannel
To bind his poor head with,
He was wropped in a blanket
And colder than clay. 


His aged mother
His grey-haired old father
Oft times had told him
About his past life;
Never go courting
The flash girls of the city,
In the flash girls of the city
He took his delight.


Now on his tombstone
You will find it was written
'All your jolly fellows
Take warning from me,
And never go courting
The flash girls of the city,
For the flash girls of the city
Were the ruin of me.'


It seems odd that this song, which is simply A Young Sailor Cut Down (Roud 2), with a localising first verse, should have a separate Roud Number.  And it's surprisingly well-known, with 32 Index entries, mainly from England and Canada.  There are even two other CD versions available: Billy Rash (VT150CD); and Viv Legg (VT153CD)

1 - 9  The Mountains of Mourne (Roud 18229)
Meg Aitken, 12.11.69

Oh Mary this London's a wonderful sight,
With the people all working by day and by night.
They don't grow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat,
But there's gangs of them digging for gold in the street.
At least when I asked them, that's what I was told;
So I just took a hand in this digging for gold.
And for all that I found there, I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

Written by Percy French (1854-1920) and none of Roud's 11 instances are from the oral tradition in Ireland!

1 - 10  The Benefit Concert (Roud 5181)
Albert Shaw, 1.4.70

Now I've just come away from a benefit concert;
'Twould have saved me much pain if I'd never've gone.
It was held at the Manslaughter Arms, around the corner;
I'm the only one left of a hundred and one.

Now this concert was held on behalf of Nobby Taylor,
He'd just lost his mother - his only support!
And with your kind attention, I'll tell you programme
Of this little concert - the best of its sort.

Now, of course we bought the bills
And tickets out upon the strap
We couldn't pay for the posters
'Cos we hadn't got a scrap.
The room that we had rented
Could hold fifty at the most,
But we got a thousand tickets out,
To satisfy our host.

Fifty Special Constables
Were ordered on the scene,
They kicked all my front teeth out;
Oh!  I wished I'd never been.
The air was blue with language,
It quite took away me breath,
And to give the crowd amusement
Someone kicked a dog to death.

When the door was opened,
They all rushed to get inside,
The bloke as took the tickets
He was trampled on, and died.
Them as couldn't get a seat,
They squatted on the floor,
And they ripped the paper off the wall
To admit a dozen more.

The chairman he should have arrived,
Seven thirty was the time;
He didn't turn up until
The clock was striking nine.
He said "Excuse me, Gentlemen,
Your patience must be worn,
But I couldn't come before
Because me trousers were in pawn."

To do the first song of the night
One young feller rose;
He sang The Village Blacksmith
'Til the sparks shot from his nose.
He said "I haven't got a voice,
It went when I was five,
But I'll fight the best bloke present
Just to keep the game alive."

A lady, next, got up to sing,
I'll Be All Smiles Tonight.
And the way she started bawling -
Oh, I thought there'd be a fight.
One old collier at the back,
He couldn't stand the strain;
He hit her with his clog and - Oh!
She never smiled again.

To do the next song of the night
They called on Ginger Giles.
To sing on this occasion
He had walked for forty miles.
He said "Give order, Gentlemen,
I'll try to please you all.
And he busted up a-singing
Let Me Like a Soldier Fall.

The waiter hit him with his tray,
Down poor Ginger fell,
And to finish off the evening
All the crowd began to yell:
"The more we are together
Together, together,
The more we are together
The merrier we shall be."

Fred Jordan also had this song - probably nicked from Albert!  He can be heard on VTD 148CD.

1 - 11  The Bunch of Violets (Roud 5348)
Daisy Chapman, 15.4.70

'Twas in a moonlit garden not far from Ballygreen,
A soldier and his true love were walking hand in hand;
Tomorrow he must leave her, she promised to be true,
And from her breast she gave to him a bunch of violets blue.

'Twas only a bunch of violets, a bunch of violets blue,
So pure, so sweet, so dainty, that sparkles like the dew;
'Twas only a bunch of violets, as he pressed them to his heart,
And swore by all, that should he fall, with them he'd never part.

A soldier he lay dying upon a battlefield,
With the bunch of faded violets into his breast were sealed;
He whispered to his comrade as life was ebbing fast,
"Take back her faded violets, I've kept them to the last."

He took her back her violets, 'twas on her wedding day,
For a rich man's gold had won her from her soldier far away;
The tears were gently falling as she heard her soldier calling,
"Wear those faded violets upon your wedding day."

There are only five other known versions of this song in Roud, and only three other sound recordings.  The only published one was of George Hirst of Dorchester, Dorset, collected by Nick & Mally Dow, in 1986 and published on the cassette Diamonds in the Dew, (Old House OHC 108).  Danny Stradling also recorded Daisy's version with the Old Swan Band on Old Swan Brand (Free Reed FRR028) in 1978.

1 - 12  Jealousy (Poison in a Glass of Wine/Oxford City/Young Maria) (Roud 218, Laws P30)
Jack Smith, 5.11.69

Now it's all you young ladies who do go a-courting,
Never put your mind to a jealous young man,
For he'll act like a rose on a mid-summer's morning
Very soon withers and fades away.

Now this sweet Maria, she was invited,
To some fancy ball went she.
This jealous young man, oh, he soon followed after,
He very soon made it overthrow.

As they were a-walking down through the green meadows,
Jealousy came over his mind;
He took her to an hotel where they had been before,
And gave her a glass of cold poison wine.

Soon as she drunk it, how quick-lie she altered.
"Take me home, my dear," cried she.
"For the glass of wine what you've late-lie gave me
Has made me so ill, as ill can be."

"You drink one, Love, and I'll drink another,
I will die as well as you.
In each other's arms we will both die together,
And that'll put an end to all jealousy."

A very well-known song - there are 141 entries in Roud and, more to the point, it's a song which has remained in the country repertoire right up to the present time, particularly amongst Gypsies and Travellers.  It has numerous titles in addition to the three shown above, but whatever it may be called by the singer, the song would appear to stem from a broadside issued by John Pitts of London in the early 1800s.

Most versions are from England, but there are also 4 from Ireland, 8 from Scotland, 17 from the USA, one from Canada, and one from Tristan da Cunha noted.  Forty sound recordings are known, but the following are the only other ones available on CD: George 'Pop' Maynard (MTCD401-2 and MTCD309-10); May Bradley (MTCD349); Louie Saunders (MTCD309-10); Garrett & Norah Arwood (MTCD503-4); Freda Palmer (MTCD311-2); Danny Brazil (MTCD347-8); Fred Jordan (VTD148CD); Sheila Stewart (TSCD515); Joseph Taylor (TSCD653).

1 - 13  You Rambling Boys of Pleasure (Roud 386)
Oliver Mulligan, 18.2.70

You rambling boys of pleasure,
Pray lend an ear to what I write.
I own I am a rover,
And in the rambling I take great delight.
But I fell in love with a handsome girl,
Although sometimes she does me slight,
But my heart is never easy
Only when my darling is in my sight.

Down in yon flow'ry garden
Where my true love and I did meet,
I rolled her in my arms
And to her I gave kisses sweet.
She bade me take life easy,
As the birds upon yonder tree.
But I being young and foolish,
With my true love I could not agree.

The next time that I met my love,
I thought her heart would be surely mine.
But as the weather changes,
So my darling girl she changed her mind.
For gold is the root of evil,
Although it wears a glittering hue;
And it's many's the lad and lass do part,
Though their hearts, like mine, be e'er so true.

And I wish I was in America,
With my true love along with me;
With money in our pockets,
For to keep us in good company.
Strong liquor to be plentiful,
And a flowing bowl on every side.
And bad fortune ne'er would grieve us,
For we are young and the world is wide.

Roud shows 85 instances of this lovely song, of which 11 are sound recordings, and almost all the others are broadsides.  Only 9 instances are from Ireland - and, surprisingly, two are from England.

Despite having been famously recorded by Robert Cinnamond, Paddy Tunney and Joe Holmes, no CD versions appear to be available.

1 - 14  The Country Carrier (Roud 1400)
Percy Webb, 18.2.70

Oh, I'm a country carrier.  a noble man am I.
I whistle and sing from morn till night and trouble I'll defy.
I've one to bear me company.  of work she does her share.
It's not my wife, upon my life, but the rattling old grey mare.

Round goes the wheel.  Trouble I'll defy.
Just jogging along together, me boys, the old grey mare and I.

Up and down the country road my mare and I we go.
The folks all kindly greet us as we journey to and fro.
The little ones they greet us, and the old folk stop and stare,
And lift their eyes with great surprise at Joe and his old grey mare.


And when our roads are heavy, or travelling up the hill,
I'm by her side assisting her; she works with such good will.
And I know she loves me well, because the whip I spare.
I'd rather hurt myself than hurt my rattling old grey mare.


I would not change my station with the noblest in the land.
I would not be Prime Minister nor anything so grand.
I would not be an nobleman to live in luxury
And state, if it would separate the old grey mare and me.


A music hall song, written by Harry Clifton in the 1860s, which probably accounts for its popularity - although this is not reflected by Roud's paltry 35 entries.

1 - 15  Danny Boy (Roud 23565)
Meg Aitken, 12.11.69

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the leaves are dying;
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must stay.
But come ye back, when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow.
Then I will come and tell you that I love you
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

What to say about this one?  Never before collected from the oral tradition?  Roud had to give it a new number!  Surely everyone knew it?  Written by Frederick E Weatherly (1848-1929) to the tune of The Londonderry Air, and sung by Count John McCormack.  An absolutely stunning performance from Meg, even if it is only one verse!

1 - 16  How Could I Marry (The Oxford Girl) (Roud 263, Laws P35)
Jack Smith, 5.11.69

As I walked out one bright summer's day
To view the country round,
Now who should I spy but a fair pretty maid,
Oh, she fairly took my eye, my eye,
Oh, she fairly took my eye.

She asked of me to marry her,
And make me her awful bride.
Oh, the answer which I did give to her,
"Oh, no, my love not I, not I,
Oh, no, my love not I.

"How could I marry such a girl as you,
So easly led astray?
You'd better go back to your parents' house,
And there you ought to stay, to stay,
And there you ought to stay."

"Before I'd go back to my parents' house,
To shame and disgrace myself,
I'd rather go down by the riverside,
And there to drown myself, myself,
And there to drown myself."

No sooner the poor girl had spoken this,
He kissed her both cheeks and chin.
He put his arms round her middle so small,
And he gently pushed her in, her in
And he gently pushed her in.

See how she goes, see how she floats,
A-floating along by the tide.
Instead of her having a watery grave,
Oh, she ought to been my bride, my bride,
Oh, she ought to been my bride.

Going home to take his rest,
No rest nor peace could he find;
The spirit of that dear murdery girl
Oh, she haunted him all night, all night,
Oh, she haunted him all night.

Now I must go to some foreign land,
For another girl to find.
She will not know the deeds I have done
Or the girl I've left behind, behind,
Or the girl I've left behind.

Spoken: Now that's a true song ...

A very well-known song indeed (although Jack's is only part of a much longer version), with 318 Roud instances, 91 of which are sound recordings.  MacColl & Seeger quote an American source who says that the villain in this song was a John Mauge, who was hanged at Reading, Berkshire, in 1744.  But, we know that Waxford Town comes originally from a long 17th-century ballad The Berkshire Tragedy, or The Wittam Miller, a copy of which may be seen in the Roxburgh Collection (vol.  viii p.629), and it may be that Mauge's name came to be associated with the earlier ballad because of the similarity of his crime.  Later printers tightened the story and reissued it as The Cruel Miller, a song which has been collected repeatedly in Britain (50 instances) and North America (228 instances - where it is usually known as The Lexington/Knoxville Girl).

Both Laws and Roud differentiate between the two versions, giving Roud 263, Laws P35 for this one and Roud 409, Laws P24 for the other - usually known as The Butcher Boy.  However, since Roud includes 318 and 275 examples respectively, it must be clear that there will be many versions which, like Jack's above, fall into the grey area between them.

Other recordings on CD: Lizzie Higgins (MTCD337-8); Mary Ann Haynes (MTCD320); Mary Delaney (MTCD325-6); Harry Cox (TSCD512D).

1 - 17  Died for Love (Roud 60, Laws P25)
Alf Wildman, 25.2.70

There is a tavern in yonder town
Where my poor boy goes and sits himself down.
He pulls a strange girl on his knee,
Now don't you think that's a grief to me?

A grief, a grief, and I'll tell you why;
Because she's got more gold than I.
But gold will waste and beauty will fly (?)
Then, poor girl, she'll come like me at last.

He courted me when my apron tied low,
He followed me through the frost and snow,
And now it ties beneath my chin
He passes by and he say nothing.

Now all you maidens be advised by me,
Never let a stranger take you on his knee.
He'll kiss and cuddle and swear to be true,
And the very next moment he'll bid you adieu.

I'm tired and weary of all this grief,
For a false young man is worse than a thief;
A thief will rob you, then run away,
But a false young man, he'll lead you astray.

There is a blackbird in yonder tree,
They say 'tis blind and cannot see.
I wish it had been so by me,
Before I met my love's company.

Then dig my grave and dig it deep.
Put a marble stone at my head and feet,
And a red rose bush in the middle of me,
For I loved that lad but he never loved me.

A song everyone knows - even today in the right company - so it's no surprise that there are 249 Roud entries, or that 46 of these are sound recordings, encompassing almost every singer you care to think of.  Closer to the truth is that everyone knows a version of it, because it's one of those songs which attracts 'floating verses' like a magnet, while being alarmingly close to countless other songs which musicologists tell us are actually different.  Who cares - it's a great wallow in almost any circumstances! 

Other Recordings: Sarah Porter (MTCD309-10); Jasper Smith, Amy Birch (TSCD661); Emma Vickers (EFDSS CD 002); May Bradley (MTCD349); 'Pop's' Johnny Connors (MTCD325-6); Jean Orchard (VT151CD); Viv Legg (VT153CD); Geoff Ling (VT104); Son Townsend (VT108).

1 - 18  The Fairies' Hornpipe
Seamus Ennis, 15.7.69

A splendid hornpipe, it's one of O'Neill's tunes, and is a great favourite in sessions everywhere.

1 - 19  The Faithful Sailor (Roud 376, Laws K13)
Percy Webb, 18.2.70

'Twas on one stormy winter's night
The snow laid on the ground,
A sailor boy stood on the quay,
His ship was outward bound.
His sweetheart standing by his side
Shed many a silent tear,
And as he pressed her to his breast
He whispered in her ear:
Farewell, farewell, my own true love
This parting gives me pain.
I'll be your own true guiding star
When I return again.
My thoughts shall be of you, of you,
When the storm is raging high.
Farewell, my love, remember me,
Your faithful sailor boy.

And with the gale the ship set sail,
He kissed his girl goodbye.
She watched the craft 'til out of sight
For the tears bedimmed her eye.
She prayed to him in Heaven above
To guide him on his way
And the loving words he spoke to her
Re-echoed o'er the bay:


It's sad to say the ship returned
Without her sailor boy.
He died when on the voyage home;
The flag was half-mast high.
And when his comrades came on shore,
Told her that he was dead,
A letter he had wrote to her,
The last line sadly read:


One of Percy's favourite songs, The Faithful Sailor Boy was written by George W Persley towards the end of the 19th century.  Few songs have achieved such widespread popularity among country singers and their audiences.  It turns up again and again in pub sing-songs throughout Britain, even through into the 1990s.  There are 87 other examples in Roud, 43 of which are sound recordings, all with much the same title - Gavin Greig's has it as The Sailor Boy's Farewell in FSNE where he refers to the song as being 'Very popular in Aberdeenshire in the early years of this century' and we have heard it sung in both Donegal and Cork in the last few years.  Two versions have been found in the North Carolina mountains, while other sets have been reported from as far away as Australia and Tristan da Cunha.

Other recordings on CD: Cyril Poacher (MTCD303); Walter Pardon (MTCD305-6); Daisy Chapman (MTCD308);

1 - 20  Down in the Valley (The Nobleman's Wedding) (Roud 567, Laws P31)
Daisy Chapman, 15.4.70

Down in the valley there was a fair wedding
And, oh, but the bride she proved to be unkind;
She proved to be unkind to her bygone lover,
Her bygone lover came in at the time.

Supper bein' over, all things over,
'Twas then proposed to sing the bride a song.
The song it was sung by the bygone lover,
And unto the bride the song it did belong.

"Many is the man that's been seven years absent,
Many is the man that's been seven years away,
But I hae been only three years absent
And an untrue lover ye hae proved tae be.

"How could ye lie in another man's arms?
How could ye drink of another man's wine?
How could ye lie in the arms of another,
After the promises you made tae me in mine?"

The bride being seated at the head of the table,
And, oh, but the song she marked it well.
To bear up the company no longer was she able,
She turned to the bridegroom and thus to him did say:

"A favour, a favour, a favour I ask o' thee,
Being the first favour I've asked from unto you,
Tae lie wi' ma mither this ae nicht only
And aye, aye and aefter, I'll aye lie wi' you."

The .... was ... and the favour was granted,
With rolling and sighin she went off to bed;
But early, right early the very next morning
This poor little damsel was found lying dead.

Surprising, surprising, to all the young women,
To be so early cut down in bloom.
Tonight you'll be walking, your sweetheart talking,
And early next morning be cold in the tomb.

First I'll put on the black coat o' velvet,
And I shall wear it a short month or two.
Then I'll put on the green and the yellow,
And aye, aye and aefter the orange and the blue.

If anyone asks thee why I do where this,
Why I do wear such a costly array,
Tell them the reason, the very plain reason,
It's all because my true love lies cold in the clay.

There are 108 instances of this old ballad in Roud.  It has been widely found in Scotland, Ireland, England, Canada and the USA, but it has not survived well into modern times in England - there are 28 known sound recordings, but none are of English singers.  Other available recordings include Paddy Doherty (Inishowen Trad.  Singers ITSC001), Joe Heaney (Folktracks FSB015), Eddie Butcher (TSCD656) and Belle Stewart (Folktracks FSA182).  Cathie Stewart also used to sing it memorably, and her sister Sheila has included it on her Topic CD From the Heart of the Tradition (TSCD515).

It is found in Folk Songs of the North East under the title The Orange and Blue, and in the Greig-Duncan Collection under several titles including The Nobleman's Wedding and the one used here - but it is most widely known, albeit in a far simpler form, as All Around My Hat.  Roud considers this to be a separate song, numbered 22518 - which adds a further 85 instances!  The well known singer, Barbara Dickson, whose roots were in the Scottish folk revival of the 1960s, met and heard Daisy sing this song at the 1968 Blairgowrie Festival.  Barbara later recorded the song and included it on her album From the Beggar's Mantle on Decca, issued in the early 1970s.

My comments on The False Bride, about the bitterness of some Scottish songs of unrequited love, apply equally here - how else to read the final two verses?

1 - 21  Flash Company (The Yellow Handkerchief) (Roud 954)
Phoebe Smith, 8.1.69

Once I had a colour as red as a rose,
Now my colour has fade like the lily that grows,
Now my colour has fade like the lily that do grows,
And if it wasn't for flash company
I should never been so poor.

Now you take that yellow handkerchief
In remembrance of me
And tie that round your neck, my love,
And your flash company.
Flash company been the ruin of me
And the ruin of me quite.
If it wasn't for flash company
I should never been so poor.

Now it's singing and a-dancing
Sure that is my delight
Flash company been the ruin of me
And the ruin of me quite.
Flash company been the ruin of me
And a great many more
If it wasn't for flash company
I should never been so poor.


Now it's all you little flash girls
Take a warning by me,
And never build your nest, my love,
In the top of a tree.
For the green leaves they will wither
And the roots they will decay,
And the beauty of a fair young maid
That will soon fade away.


This is a song that is almost exclusive to Suffolk these days, although there are a small number of sightings along the south coast - Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset.  We heard it in the repertoires of at least six singers in Suffolk in the late 1960s.  The song was first noted in Limerick in the 1850s and was still well known recently, not only in East Anglia, but also among Travellers throughout southern England.  Roud has 56 instances of the song, 19 of which are sound recordings.

Despite being really nothing more than a collection of floating verses, the song maintains a similar form all over East Anglia - and is unusual in that the verse:

In the middle of the ocean,
There shall grow a willow (or myrtle) tree,
If ever I prove false, my love,
To the one that loves me.

...  which is common to almost all other versions (and a good many other songs besides) is rarely found here.  Other versions on CD include: George 'Pop' Maynard (MTCD401-2); Cyril Poacher (MTCD303); Mary Ann Haynes (EFDSS CD 002).

1 - 22  The Three Flowers (Roud 9742)
Freddie McKay, 5.11.69

As I went strolling down a lane
As night was drawing nigh
I met a colleen with three flowers,
And she more young than I.
"Saint Patrick bless you dear," I said,
"If you will to me tell
The place where you did find these flowers
I seem to know so well."

Then she took and kissed the first flower once
And softly said to me
"This flower did grow on the old ... 
Outside Belfast," said she. 
"And the name I call it is Wolfe Tone
'Tis the bravest flower of all,
And I'll keep it fresh within my breast
Though all the world should fall"

Then she took and kissed the next flower twice
And softly said to me,
"This flower did grow on the Wicklow hills
Due west, and pure and free.
And the name I call it is Michael Dwyer
'Tis the strongest flower of all
And I'll keep it fresh within my breast
Though all the world should fall"

Then she took and kissed the last flower thrice
And softly said to me
This flower did grow in Thomas Street,
In Dublin fair" said she.
"And the name I call it is Robert Emmet,
Who's the truest flower of all,
And I'll keep it fresh within my breast
Though all the world should fall. 

"Then Emmet, Dwyer and Tone I'll keep
For I do love them all,
And I'll keep them fresh within my breast
Though all the world should fall."

This is a modern song written by Norman G Reddin.  As well as the well-known Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmett, it concerns a famous guerilla fighter, Michael Dwyer, who lived in a cottage in the Glen of Imaal, in the Wicklow mountains.

Roud has only two entries for this political song, both BBC recordings; one from Paddy Walsh in Co Galway, the other from Nellie Walsh in Co Wexford.

1 - 23  Shooting Goshen's Cocks Up (Roud 902)
Jack Smith, 5.11.69

If you'd like to listen, boys,
A story I will tell you
And if you don't want to listen,
Well, I'm sure I can't compel you.
But now you've asked me for to sing
I'd better start at once,
I'll tell you how I got six weeks,
And my mate got two months.

With your row dow dow,
Fol de riddle raddle
With me row dow dow.

Now me and my mate went out one night
To a place called Narchree,
And when we got upon the spot
Our guns begun to rattle,
Then my old mate he done a bunk
And left me to the battle.


If we'd have stuck together, boys,
And not made any mistakers
And if we'd have stuck together, boys,
We never should been taken
For it's shooting Goshen's cock-ups.


And put us in the lock-up,
We was charged before 'Spector Adams
With shooting Goshen's cock-ups.


Our time it was a-mild'ring,
We was thinking of our homes at home
And wives and little children.


They popped us into the lock up, boys,
And I began to smile
To think that I'd deceived them all -
I had bacca all the while.


Now the very first week that I was there,
Don't you think they're very cruel?
They makes a man work 'ard all day
On dry bread, water and gruel.


Now the very next week that I was there,
They set me grinding flour,
Likewise a-pumping water, boys,
Up to an awful tower.


The very last week that I was there
How I did seem so happy,
And when I had a drink of beer
It made me feel so merry,
To think that my poor mate don't come out
'Til the middle of January.


Better known as Shooting Goshen's Cock-Ups, the incident happened on the Goshen Estate near New Addington in Surrey, and the song was composed by Fred Holman, of Tatsfield in Surrey; who also wrote the song Patsy Flanaghan (Roud 16632), both of which Pop Maynard used to sing (MTCD309-10 and MTCD401-2).  The tune comes from an earlier song, Bow, Wow, Wow or The Barking Barber, which was popular in the 1780s.  It was sufficiently well-known to be parodied in Alice in Wonderland.

Fred Holman would write out the words for the price of a pint - so, obviously, the song developed over time.  Fred was also one of Jack Smith's poaching mates - and his final verse with its long line at the end is obviously such a development.

1 - 24  Kissin in the Dark (Roud 2534)
Daisy Chapman, 15.4.70

For lang I courted Jeanie and I wrocht wi micht and main,
Tae hae a pickle> siller and a biggin o' ma ain;
llka nicht I gaed tae see her, be it late or be it mirk,
I'd tak her in my airums, aye, an I'd kiss her in the dark.

Oh the dark, the dark, the dark, the dark, the dark,
I'd tak her in my airums, aye, an I'd kiss her in the dark.

Ae nicht I gaed tae see her and ma Jeanie being frae hame,
I tiptoed 'til the windae and I rattled on the pane;
Oot cam Jeanie's mither, the nicht it bein sae dark,
I took her in my airums, aye, an I kissed her in the dark.

She ruggit and she tuggit and she tried tae win awa,
But I held her aye bit closer and I gied her ither twa;
She bursted oot a-laughin sayin, "This is awfa wark,
Tae tousle an auld body, aye, an kiss her in the dark."

Then I was for rinnin but she held me sure and fast,
Says, "Ye needna hurry, lad, your secret's oot at last;
For Jeanie's doon at auntie's and she'll think it awfa wark,
When I tell her hoo ye tousled me and kissed me in the dark."

Noo I bad wi Jeanie's mither till ma Jeanie she cam hame,
She tell't her aa the story fit I thocht an awfa shame;
But noo I've gotten Jeanie aifter aa this courtin work
There's few that's been sae lucky wi their kissin in the dark.

Noo we hidna lang been mairrit, Jeanie's mother she grew ill,
She sent me for a lawyer, she was gaun tae mak her will;
She left me aa her siller and made mony a remark,
For I got the auld wife's blessin, aye, for the kissin in the dark. 

There are only 12 sightings in Roud of this nice little bothy song, probably dating from the mid 1800s, which was recorded on a 78 (Beltona BL2484) by Tom Wright - who also produced such hits as The Lum Hat, Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre, Drumdelgie, McGinty's Meal and Ale and Nicky Tams for Beltona.

Most references are in books, but there are two other sound recordings from the tradition - both from Aberdeen.  One is John Mearns (1954) and the other (1965) is Dave Campbell - Ian and Lorna's father.  Daisy's will be the only available recording.

CD Two:

2 - 1  Nobody Noticed Me (Roud 18433)
Bob Cann, 28.5.69

Although I've a striking appearance no doubt,
Nobody notices me when I am out.
I can't understand it, it doesn't seem right,
In fact when I walked into this room tonight,
Nobody noticed me, nobody noticed me.
It's always been so, since that wonderful morn,
That wonderful morn on the day I was born.
The room I was born in was large,
But I was so tiny you see,
That I never got fed for the first seven weeks,
'Cos nobody noticed me.

Just for excitement I rode in a train,
I sat with my nose glued right up to the pane.
A bridegroom stepped in with a blushing young bride.
I sat very still with my head on one side.
Nobody noticed me, nobody noticed me.
We entered a tunnel without any light,
I heard the bride giggle and whisper in fright,
"Oh do give up kissing me, George."
"But I haven't kissed you." said he.
"Well if you haven't kissed me, then somebody has."
Nobody noticed me.

Once with some pals by the seaside, we saw,
A young ladies school bathing down on the shore.
They bobbed up and down in the water so clear,
A board on the beach said, 'No mixed bathing here'.
Nobody noticed me, nobody noticed me.
So I got my tiny bathing suit out,
I went in the water and floated about.
Nobody suspected at all,
Except one young lady, and she
Said "It's queer but there's something keeps tickling my leg."
Nobody noticed me.

Last leap year I met a young girl named Flo,
She quickly proposed and I daren't say no.
The day we got married I stood by her side,
The parson shook hands with the best man and bride.
Nobody noticed me, nobody noticed me.
Behind her bouquet I stood quiet and still.
I just popped my head around, and answered, "I will."
And when we got home later on,
I felt that dead tired don't you see,
Well I crawled under bed and I laid there all night,
And nobody noticed me.

Bob learned this song when he was a youngster, from a travelling drover who used to visit the markets and fairs in his locality.  It was written by Lee & Grey in 1917, and sung by Jack Pleasants on the Halls.  Roud's only other entry for a version from the oral tradition is a Gwilym Davies recording of Bob Arnold - Tom Forrest in The Archers.

2 - 2  Lay Him Away on the Hillside (Roud 3226)
Albert Shaw, 1.4.70

The grey dawn had crept o'er the stillness of morning,
The dew drops they glistened with icicle breath,
The notes of the bugle have sounded its warning,
A young Irish Soldier lay sentenced to death.
No cold-blooded murder had stained his pure conscience,
He called as his witness his maker on high,
He'd simply been fighting for Ireland's loved freedom,
Arrested and tried, he was sentenced to die.

Then lay him away on the hillside,
Along with the brave and bold. 
Inscribe his name on the scroll of fame,
In letters of purest gold.
"My conscience will never convict me."
He said with his last dying breath,
"May God bless the cause of freedom,
For which I am sentenced to death."

To the old barrack square they marched our young hero,
The bandage he tore from his eyes in disdain,
"Do you think I'm afraid like a crime sodden Nero?
I'd die for old Ireland again and again. 
I can't blame you, comrades, for doing your duty,
Aim straight for my heart", t'were the last words he said.
Exposing his breast to the point of the rifles,
The smoke cleared away; the young soldier lay dead.


On 28 June 1920, five men from C Company of the 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers at Wellington Barracks, Jalandhar, Punjab, India, decided to protest against the effects of martial law in Ireland by refusing to soldier.  They were soon joined in their protest by other Rangers (the protesters were not all Irishmen and included at least one Englishman) declaring that they would not return to duty until British forces left Ireland.

This fairly recent song concerns Private James Daly, who was the leader of the mutiny; he was shot for his role in the incident, and was the last member of the British armed forces to be shot for mutiny.

2 - 3  Go and Leave Me (Roud 459)
Percy Webb, 2.7.69

Oh, once I loved, with fond affection;
All his thoughts they were of me.
Until a dark girl did persuade him;
Now he thinks no more of me.

For now he's happy with another,
One that has bright gold in store.
'Tis he that's caused my heart to wander.
Now I'm left alone because I'm poor.

"So go and leave me, if you wish it,
Never let let me cross your mind.
For if you think I'm so unworthy,
Go and leave me, never mind."

Many a night with him I wandered,
Many an hour with him I spent.
I thought that he was mine for ever,
But love I found, was only lent.

My heart has failèd and you know it;
The heart that only beats for thee.
However can I tell another
The tales of love I told to thee?


Many a night, as he lay sleeping.
Taking of his sweet repose,
While I, poor girl, lies broken hearted,
Listening to the wind that blows.

Fare thee well friends and kind relations;
Farewell to you, you false young man.
'Tis you that's caused me pain and sorrow;
Never to return back again.


Another of Percy's favourites, this one is surprisingly popular, with 109 Roud entries, almost all of which are from the USA.  Among the nine English instances we find Charlie Wills and Amy Ford, while Joe Holmes knew it in Ireland, as did Daisy Chapman and Davie Stewart in Scotland.  Among the 39 sound recordings, only Daisy, the Carter Family, and Kelly Harrell seem to have a CD still available.

2 - 4  London Lights (Roud 18815)
Lizzie Higgins, 11.3.70

See how those London Lights are gleaming
Through the frost and falling snow.
Sleep on, sleep on my blue-eyed treasure,
Your mother's got nowhere to go. 

See how my sisters they despise me,
And my brothers do the same.
Father says he will not own me,
And my mother hangs her head in shame. 

See how ...

Oncet a young man learned to love me,
And he taught me do the same.
Now he's went away and left me,
And on my brow there is written shame. 
See how ... 

Additional verses from May Bradley:

Although my clothes they're going ragged
Still they'll keep my baby warm
Sleep on, sleep on my blue eyed treasure
Your father won't be very long.

It was those two blue eyes that 'ticed me
'Ticed me from my happy home
Although he's run away and left me
He is the father of my child. 

Steve Roud was hitherto unaware of this lovely little song (so it has a new number) and it doesn't appear anywhere in the School of Scottish Studies Archive indices, at least, not under this or similar title.  So we may assume that it was a song Lizzie knew of, but did not sing, until her visit to the King's Head folk club in London made it appropriate.  If so, this gives an insight into the degree to which she considered her audience's needs and interests.

This delicate version of the perennial abandoned unmarried mother song would appear to be relatively modern, presumably from the music halls.  Lizzie's mother, Jeannie Robertson, a wide-ranging singer, was indeed especially fond of music-hall songs, but the source of this one is unclear.

However, we have recently discovered - quite by chance - that May Bradley, the Gypsy singer from the Marches, sings essentially the same song.  It's titled Blue Eyed Lover in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library archives, since her first verse is from that song - but the remainder is the verses from London Lights, without Lizzie's chorus, but sung to the same tune (May's verses are shown in italics above).  This doesn't alter the attractions of Lizzie's song as it stands, but we now know that it wasn't unique to her, and that the tune and some of the text had a wider distribution in the Gypsy tradition.  Also, a Web search comes up with the fact that the Nova Scotia Archives have a 1952 recording by a Jack Thurple of Hants County, Nova Scotia. 

2 - 5  The Ramsey Ram (Roud 126)
Alf Wildman, 25.2.70

As I went up to Ramsey,
Upon a market day
I saw the finest ram, Sir,
That ever was fed upon hay.
Oh, that's a lie, Oh!  That's a lie.

That ram he had some horns, Sir,
That reached up to the moon.
For I went up in February
And I never come back until June.
Oh, that's a lie ...

That ram he had some wool, Sir,
That reached up to the sky.
That's where the raven build their nests.
I heard the young ones cry.

That ram he had a foot, Sir,
A foot so mighty grand.
And every time it moved its foot
It covered an acre of land.

That ram it had a tail, Sir,
That reached right round the world.
And every time it gave it a swish
It rang the bell of St Paul's.

The butcher who killed that ram, Sir,
He was up to his knees in blood.
And four and twenty butcher boys
Were swam away in the flood.

A very popular song, with 280 Roud entries, whose protagonist usually comes from Derby - although only one of the singers does.  Most of the instances are from North America, though England can boast almost 70.  Among the 90 sound recordings, few remain available on CD: Danny Brazil (MTCD345-7); both Doug and Cas Wallin (MTCD501-4); Sid Steer (TSCD657); George Fradley (VTC7CD); Gordon Hall (VT115CD); plus a few Americans.

2 - 6  Londonderry on the Banks of the Foyle (Roud 9453)
Margaret Barry & Michael Gorman, 19.11.69

There's a spot in old Ireland
That's full of great fame,
It stands on the north land,
I'll tell you its name;
It stands on the north land,
And built on great soil,
And it's called Londonderry
On the banks of the Foyle.

My parents they died
When I was but young.
I then took a notion
The wide seas to roam.
I was young, I was foolish,
Like the rest of the boys,
I hadn't many pleasures,
Nor yet many joys.
Worked hard for a living,
So hard did I toil,
Far from you Londonderry
On the banks of the Foyle.

I courted a wee girl,
Her age being sixteen,
She's the finest wee lassie
That ever was seen;
Her eyes shone like diamonds,
Her waist was but small,
She was the pride of Londonderry
On the banks of the Foyle.

And now to conclude and
To finish my song,
All I have said,
I have said nothing wrong.
But if ever you come over
And visit this soil,
You will love Londonderry
On the banks of the Foyle

Roud has only 7 instances of this song, and says it was written by J J McCready.  Interestingly, both Belle Stewart and Bella Higgins also sang it - more evidence of Scots Travellers' frequent ventures into Ireland.

Political correctness makes the song difficult to sing 'as collected' these days - but, officially, it's now called Derry City in the county of Londonderry!

2 - 7  The Game of All Fours (Roud 232)
Phoebe Smith, 8.1.69

As I were a-walking
One bright summer's morning,
I were all alone
On the King's highway,
And who should I meet
But a fair pretty damsel,
And (to) the sweet town of Glasgow
Were making her way.

So we walked, and we talked,
Just a few miles together
Until we did came
To that shady green tree;
Where she sot herself down,
And I sot down beside her,
And the games that we played were
One Two and Three.

So it's she cut the cards,
And were his turn to deal them,
Were feeling hisself
Just one trump in his hand.
Then she chucked down the ace,
And she stole the jack from him,
And that were high low
Jack and the game.

So he picked up his hat
And he bid her good morning.
And he bid her good morning
Again and again.
For he said, "Oh fair maid,
Will you own I have beat you?
Or else the same game
We'll play over again."

So she picked herself up
And she bid him good morning
And she bid him good morning
Again and again.
"Oh", she said, "there, young man,
I'll be this way tomorrow,
And then that same game
We'll play over again."

On the surface we are dealing with card play, and Hoyle's Rules of Games(1955) indeed lists All Fours.  In her edition of Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs (1974), Maud Karpeles places in the section devoted to sports and pastimes The Game of Cards, a version of the song Hoyle noted in 1908.  Yet this is a transparently erotic piece which had to wait until 1960 to appear in respectable print, in James Reeves's anthology of English traditional verse, The Everlasting Circle.  That it was well known a century earlier is attested by the broadside issued by Henry Disley of London, a political adaptation or parody dealing with Garibaldi's struggle for Italian unity under the title of The Game of All Fours.  At much the same time, the catalogue of the Manchester ballad printer, T Pearson, included the original Game of All Fours, twinned with The Steam Loom Weaver.

A fairly widely collected song, found only in the southern half of England, with 58 Roud entries, the most northerly being from Staffordshire and Norfolk.  It seems to be very popular amongst Travellers and George Dunn, Charlie Wills and Sam Larner are about the only Gorgios amongst the singers named.  Vic Legg informs us that All Fours is still played in a number of pubs in the china-clay areas near St Austell in Cornwall; indeed, they have a League - for the card game, that is.

Other recordings on CD: George Dunn (MTCD317-8); Sarah Porter (MTCD309-10); Levi Smith (TSCD 661); Sam Larner (TSCD511).

2 - 8  My Old Shoes (The False Bride) (Roud 154)
Lizzie Higgins, 11.3.70

I saw my own bonny lass
To the church go,
Gold rings on her fingers,
White gloves on her hands.
Gold rings on her fingers,
White gloves on her hands;
She's away to get wed to another.

Says I "My own bonny lass,
Wait a wee while,
For you are false beguiled,
For you are false beguiled;
She's only my auld shoes, and you've got her."

They were serving the glasses
Of brandy and wine:
Here is health tae the bonny lass
That should have been mine,
Here is health tae that bonny lass
That should have been mine,
For she's only my auld shoes
And you've got her.

But the ladies and gents,
They enquirt aff of me:
"How many blackberries
Grows in the salt sea?"
I gave them aa back
Wi a tear my ee
"How many ships sails in a forest?"

She has broken ma hairt
And forever left me,
She has broken my hairt
And forever left me;
It is not once or twice
She has lain now wi me:
She is there an she cannae deny it.

But I'll lay doon my heid
And a'll tak a long sleep.
Youse can cover me over
With lilies so sweet,
Youse can cover me over
With lilies so sweet;
That's the only way
I'll ever forget her.

At 140 Roud entries, this is another of the big ones, and is found slightly more frequently in England than in Scotland.  Indeed, there is a degree to which it has developed into two different songs in the two countries: in England it tends towards the Week Before Easter variant, while Scotland favours the I Once Loved a Lass / False Bride version.  Roud shows 30 sound recordings, of which the following are available on CD: Sarah Makem (MTCD353-5); Pop Maynard (MTCD309-10); Maggie Murphy (VT134CD); Harry Burgess (TSCD665); Gordon Hall (Country Branch CBCD 095); Duncan Williamson (Kyloe 101).

The versions of this song from Lizzie's region seem to be the bitterest of all - match hers with that of Elizabeth Stewart (Elphinstone Institute EICD002), or Shepheard, Spiers & Watson (Springthyme SPRCD 1042).  A great favourite with local singers, some of whose heroes defiantly sing: 'But I'll not give over to sorrow and woe/ I will pick up my sword and a-rovin I'll go/ I will pick up my sword and a-rovin I'll go/ I am young and will soon find another'.  The riddling 4th verse is usually confined to 19th century Scots versions, and seems to be a regional addition.  Lizzie learned her version from her mother

2 - 9  Christmas Day in the Cookhouse
Freddie McKay, 5.11.69

It was Christmas Day in the cookhouse
And the place was clean and tidy.
And the soldiers were eating their pancakes;
No, I tell a lie ... that was, ah ... Good Friday.

In the oven, a turkey was sizzling
And to make it look posh, I suppose,
They had fetched the battalion's barber
To shave round its parson's nose.

Potatoes were cooked in their jackets
And carrots in pants ... how unique!
And the sheep's head was baked with the eyes in
Because it had to see us through the week.

A jazz band played in the mess room;
A fine lot of messers, it's true.
We told them to go and play ... Ludo,
And they answered "Fishcakes to you!"
Or words to that effect.

At one o'clock 'dinner up' sounded
And the sight made an old soldier blush.
They were dishing out Guinness for nothing
And fifteen got killed in the rush.

When in came the old Sergeant Major
He had walked all the way from his billet.
His toes were turned in, his chest was thrown out,
And his head back in case he would spill it.

He wished all the troops "Merry Christmas"
Including the poor orderly man. 
Some said "Good Old Sergeant Major"
And others said "San Fairy Ann."
Or words to that effect.

Then up spoke one ancient warrior
Whose whiskers were nesting a sparrow;
The old man had first joined the Army
When the troops ... used to use ... bow and arrow.

His grey eyes flashed with anger
And he threw down his pudding and cursed
"You dare to wish me happy New Year!
Well just listen to my story first."

"Ten years ago ... as the crow flies
I came here with my darling bride. 
It was Christmas Day in the Waxworks
So it must have been the same outside."

"We asked for some bread, we were starving;
You gave us pease pudden and pork. 
My poor wife went in the infirmary
With a pain in her Belle of New York."

You're the man that stopped bacon from shrinking
By making the cook fry with Lux.
And you wound up the cuckoo clock backwards
And now it goes oo ...  before it cucks!"

"So thank you, and bless you, and blow you.
And you take these curses from me:
May your wife give you nothing for dinner
And then heat it up for your tea."

"Whatever you eat, may it always repeat,
Be it soup, fish, entrees or horse dovers. 
May bluebottles and flies come down from the skies
And use your bald head for manoeuvres."

"May the patent expire on your evening dress shoes
May your permanent waves all come uncurled. 
May your flannel shirt shrink up the back of your ...  neck
And expose your deceit to the world."

"And now that you've all heard my story
I'll walk to the clink by the gate. 
And as for your old Christmas pudden
Stick that ...  on the next fellow's plate."
Thank you very much!

In the Workhouse - Christmas Day was a dramatic monologue written as a traditional rhyming poem and published in 1879 by George Robert Sims.  It was a criticism of the harsh conditions in workhouses under the 1834 Poor Law.  This humerous parody was written by the great Billy Bennett.

2 - 10  The Horn of the Hunter (Roud 1859)
Albert Shaw, 1.4.70

Now the horn of the hunter is silent,
On the banks of the Ellen no more,
No more shall we hear its wild echo,
Clear sound o'er the dark Caldew's roar.

For forty long years have we known him,
That Cumberland yeoman of old,
And twice forty years shall have perished,
E're the fame of his deeds shall grow cold.
No broadcloth of scarlet adorned him,
No buckskin as white as the snow;
Of plain Skiddaw grey was his garment,
And he wore it for work, not for show.


When darkness of night draws her mantle,
And cold by the fire bids us steal,
Our children will say, "Father tell us
Some tales of the famous John Peel."
And we'll tell them of Ranter and Royal,
Of Britain and Melody too,
How they rattled a fox round the Carrock,
And chased him from scent to full view.


And on through Braiton to Skiddaw,
Through Isel, Bewaldeth, Whitefield,
How we galloped like madmen together,
To follow the hounds of John Peel.
And so we may hunt with another,
'Til the hand of old age bids us yield,
We'll remember that sportsman and brother,
And think of the days of John Peel.

Also sung by Fred Jordan (VTD148CD); a recording by our own Tony Foxworthy!  Since Roud has only 8 entries, it would seem that this song was mainly only known amongst the hunting fraternity.

2 - 11  The Pinch of Snuff
Seamus Ennis, 15.7.69

This reel is especially associated with Donegal.  Seamus said that the fairies were trying to abduct a bride at a wedding by trying to trick her into uttering magic words which would bind her to them.  In the rafters was her ex-suitor, who shook down some snuff upon her.  The bride breathed it in, sneezed, and was greeted with a polite chorus of "God bless you" from the wedding party - at which the fairies took flight.  The tune the fiddlers were playing at the time was dubbed The Pinch of Snuff.

2 - 12  Granny's Old Armchair (Roud 1195)
Jack Smith, 5.11.69

My grandmother, she, was the age of eighty-one
When one day in May took ill and she died.
Sure, after she was dead,
Well, the will that was read,
To me sisters that she left a thousand pounds.
But when it come to me, oh, the lawyer said,
"I see, John," I said "'Ello Sir." "I'm sorry,
She's only left you the old armchair."

How they tittered, and how they chaffed,
How me brothers and me sisters laughed,
When they hear the lawyer declare,
"Granny only left you her old armchair."

I thought it hardly fair, although I did not care,
But in the evening took the chair away.
When me brother at me laughed
And me sisters at me chaffed;
"You'll find it'll come very useful, oh, some day.
When you get yourself a wife,
And you settle down in life,
You'll find it come very useful, I declare.
On a cold and winter's night,
When the fire is burning bright,
You can then sit in your old armachair."

One night the chair fell down
And I picked it up and found,
Well, the seat it had fallen out upon the floor.
I never was surprised,
When I saw before me eyes,
Well, a thousand pounds in notes,
And more, and more!
When my brother heared of this,
Oh, the feller, he confess
He went raving 'stracted mad,
And tore his hair.
But I only laughed at him,
And I said unto him "Jim", "'Ello!"
"Don't you wish you had the old armchair?"


Spoken: The old armchair, boy.

The original song, The Old Arm Chair, was composed in 1840 by Englishman, Henry Russell, with lyrics by Eliza Cook; it was a typical Victorian sentimental ballad.  John Reade parodied this song in the latter part of the century as Grannie's Old Armchair and performed it in Britain and America, and it was recorded by Billy Williams in 1909.  The American, Frank Crumit, recorded this parody around 1920 and it was a big seller in Britain.

It does seem extraordinary that this song - which everyone used to know when I were a boy-chap - has only been recorded 15 times in Britain.  In fact there are only two Scottish entries (just a single verse in the Greig Duncan collection) and 13 English entries in Roud - the 56 others being from the USA and Canada.  Walter Pardon can be heard singing it on MTCD305-6.  Walter's version is very close to Crumit's text, but has slight variations in the tune.

The only other person I ever heard who didn't sing the standard version was Jack Smith, and his chorus is the same as Walter's except for one note.  Walter's verse and chorus tunes have a very obvious unity - was this an alternative standard tune which has been lost in the face of recorded versions?  Was it something he developed himself?  How did Jack have it as well?  Was there a pre-existing traditional song which John Reed transformed and made his own?  Answers on a postcard, please ...

2 - 13  Has Anybody Seen My Tiddler? (Roud 13330)
George Belton, 16.4.69

Now I've been a-fishing with the boys today,
In a little pond that's down our way.
I stood like so, and soon, you know,
I caught a little tiddler with a nice soft roe.
Oh, how he wiggled in me jam jar,
Tears in his eyes of blue,
But now I'm unhappy 'cos I've lost him,
So excuse me asking you ...

Has anybody seen my tiddler? 
I caught a little fish with a cotton and a pin;
Oh, how I laughed when I dragged him in.
But going home, oh dear-o,
That rude boy, Dickie Diddler,
He poked his finger in me galley-pot.
And he pinched my tiddler!

Soon another tiddler come and took my hook;
Young Dickie Diddler gave an envious look.
I said "Ah!" And he said "Yah!"
And tried to kick the bottom out of my jam jar.
I said "I'm gonna to tell your father"
He said "I don't care if you do."
And now he's bin and broke me jam jar,
And he pinched my tidder, too.

Has anybody seen my tiddler? 
I caught a little fish with a cotton and a pin;
Oh how I laughed when I dragged him in.
But going home, oh dear-o,
That rude boy, Dickie Diddler,
He poked his finger in me galley-pot.
And he pinched my tiddler!

Written in 1910 by Carter and Mills, and sung on the Halls by Millie Payne.

2 - 14  Skibbereen (Roud 2312)
Tim Lyons, 1.4.70

"Oh, Father dear, I oftimes hear
You speak of Ireland;
Its lofty scenes, its valleys green,
Its mountains rude and wild. 
They say it is a lovely land
Wherein a prince might dwell. 
Then why did you abandon it,
The reason to me tell?"

"My Son, I loved our native land
With energy and pride,
Until a blight came on my crops,
And sheep and cattle died. 
The rent and taxes were to pay
And could not them redeem,
And that's the cruel reason why
I left old Skibbereen.

"It's well I do remember
That bleak December day;
The landlord and the sherrif came
For to drive us all away,
They set my roof on fire
With their beaming yellow spleen,
And that's another reason why
I left old Skibbereen.

"Your mother too, God rest her soul,
Lay on the snowy ground.
She fainted in her anguish of
The desolation round.
She never rose, but went her way
From life to death's long dream
And found a quiet grave, my boy,
In darling Skibbereen.

"And you were only two years old,
And feeble was your frame;
I could not leave you with my friends,
You bore your father's name. 
So I wrapped you in my coatamor
In the dark of night unseen,
I heaved a sigh, and said goodbye
To dear old Skibbereen."

Surprisingly, this song has only 23 Roud entries, and only nine of them are from Ireland - I'm sure this doesn't represent its true popularity.  Tom Munnelly wrote of the song, in his review of the Joe Heaney CDs: 'A piece of nationalistic melodrama with evictions, dying mothers and famine.  No wonder it is sung throughout Ireland!  Skibbereen is definitely popular with the showbands (or whatever they are called nowadays), but it is also extremely widespread in the field, and I have recorded it from Irish rural singers in every corner of the country.'  The lovely Freddie McKay's version is available on Topic TSCD 658.

2 - 15  Rap-a-Tap-Tap (Roud 792)
Percy Webb, 18.2.70

Now when I was a Master's servant
I used to have some fun,
In minding my Master's business
When my Master was not at home.
And when my Master did go out
To view the fields so gay,
I was up to the door with me rap-a-tap-tap
Yes, either by night or day,
Yes, either by night or day.

Now, who should come to the door but me Mistress,
She bade me to come in.
I complained of the belly-ache
She gave to me some gin.
She bade me drink it up, my boys,
And never a word to say
That I'd been there with me rap-a-tap-tap
And to bed we went straightway ...

So there we laid a-sporting
For three half hours or more,
The Missis enjoyed the sport so well,
I thought she'd never give o'er.
"You won me heart for ever", she cried,
"My husband no more for me,
For he can't come with his rap-a-tap-tap,
Not half so good as thee ..."

Now my Master he came from market
He asked me how I got on.
I said I'd minded his business
As if he'd been at home.
He ordered me old ale, my boys,
But little did he know
That I'd been there with me rap-a-tap-tap
If he had, he would never done so ... 

A surprisingly little-collected song, yet one which seems to be pretty well-known.  Gardiner found it in Hampshire and Hammond in Dorset in 1905/6, but all the other 26 Roud entries are from East Anglia.  Bob Hart, Frank Woolnough and 'Rivetts' Branch (NLCD3) all sang it locally, as did Harry Cox (Rounder CD 1839) just up in Norfolk.

Of the 12 sound recordings, only those by Bob Hart (MTCD301-2); Harry Cox (Rounder CD 1839); Revett Branch (Neil Lanham CD NLCD3) remain available on CD.

2 - 16  The Rose of Mooncoin (Roud 10611)
Margaret Barry & Michael Gorman, 19.11.69

How sweet 'tis to roam
By the sunny Suir flows
To hear the dove sing
Near the morning sunbeams
Where the thrush and the robin
Their sweet notes entwine,
On the banks of the Suir
That flows down by the Coin.

Flow along, lovely river,
Flow gently along. 
By your waters so sweet
Sounds the lark's merry song. 
On your green banks I'll wander
Where first I did join
With you, lovely Molly,
The Rose of Mooncoin.

Oh Molly, dear Molly,
It breaks my fond heart
To know that we two
Forever must part. 
But I'll think of you, Molly,
While the sun and moon shine,
On the banks of the Suir
That flows down by Mooncoin.

Flow along, lovely river,
Flow gently along. 
By your waters so sweet
Sounds the lark's merry song. 
On your green banks I'll wander
Where first I did join
On the banks of the Suir
That flows down by Mooncoin.

Mooncoin is a village in south Kilkenny.  The song was written by Seamus Kavanagh. 

2 - 17  There was a Rich Farmer in Chester (Roud 2638, Laws L2)
Jack Smith, 5.11.69

There was a rich farmer in Chester,
To market his daughter did go,
A-thinking of nothing should happen
As she'd been on that highway before.

She met three jolly highwaymen,
Three pistols they hold at her breast,
Saying, "Deliver up your money and clothing
Or else you will die in distress."

They stripped the poor damsel stark naked,
They gave her the reins for to hold.
And as she stood shivering and shaking,
Most perishing to death by the cold.

She put her left foot in the stirrup,
She mounted her horse like a man;
Over hedges and ditches she galloped
Saying, "Catch me, bold rogues, if you can."

Oh, the rogues, they could not overtake her,
She caused them to puff and to blow;
She never considering leave galloping
'Til she got to her own father's home.

"Dear Daughter, dear Daughter, what's happened?
You've made a late market today."
"Dear Father, I've been in quite danger,
The rogues, they have done me no harm."

She put the grey mare in the stable,
She spread the white sheet on the floor.
She undone her purse from her saddle -
She had fifty bright pounds, love, or more.
"And ten thousands of riches I'll give you,
If you keep the cold wind from my door."

The Farmer of Cheshire, in common with another ballad The Boy and the Highwayman, is related to the ballad of The Crafty Farmer (Child 283) in which a farmer outwits a would-be robber.  In Jack's version the girl escapes on the robber's horse, which carries a saddlebag of money previously stolen by the robbers.  Most versions of the song employ a 17th century tune, The Rant, which was also known as Give Ear to a Frolicksome Ditty, a tune that is also found with some versions of both The Boy and the Highwayman and The Crafty Farmer.

The Farmer of Cheshire is widespread within the English Gypsy community and it has been suggested (by Sam Richards) that the girl's actions reinforce the travellers' own attitudes to a somewhat hostile world.  Jack's version has the funniest penultimate verse imaginable: Father is sitting at home, toasting his toes and reading the Farmers' Weekly, when his daughter arrives back from market, stark naked, on a stolen horse ... and all he can say is "You're late , Dear!"

Other recordings on CD: George 'Pop' Maynard (MTCD401-2); Jimmy McBeath (MTCD311-2); Alec Bloomfield (MTCD339-0); Wiggy Smith (MTCD307); Mary Ann Haynes (MTCD320); Charlie Stringer (VTC2CD); Packie Manus Byrne ( VT132CD).

2 - 18  Betsy Bell (Roud 5211)
Lizzie Higgins, 11.3.70

Ma name is Betsy Bell, in the Gallowgate I dwell;
Nae doot ye'll wunner fit a'm daein here?
I am looking for a man, be he auld or be he young
Ay, onything in breeks'll dae wi me.

For as I gaed oot ae nicht, I met wi Sandy Wricht.
He asked me for to be his loving bride.
An I jumpit at the chance, it fairly made me dance,
The weddin was tae take place there and then;
When I bought ma weddin frock,
He said, "Lord, it's aa a joke",
So I wonder fit's adee wi aa the men?

Is there onybody here, who'll tak a nice wee dear,
Even though I'm three score and ten?
Be he young or be he auld,
Grey-heided, fringe or bald,
So I wonder fit's adee wi aa the men?

A song popularised by Belle Stewart, and instances of her, or her daughter Sheila, singing it comprise the whole of Roud's 6 entries.  Belle can be heard on Topic TSCD 660 Who's that at my Bed Window?  She claimed to have got the words from a penny song-sheet in The Poet's Box, a little shop in the Overgate, Dundee, when she was about 12 years old, and fitted them to the tune of Harry Lauder's We Parted on the Shore.  Lizzie learned this when fifteen from two elderly fish workers (who had shifted the location to Aberdeen's Gallowgate - the 'gates' in both cases deriving from the Nordic 'gata' = street).

2 - 19  Wheel the P'rambulator (Roud 1496)
Percy Webb, 18.2.70

Now wheel the p'rambulator, John,
Be careful how you go;
Don't get riled, mind the child,
Wheel it nice and slow.
When you turn the corner, John,
Or when you cross the road,
You cock your front wheels up a bit
Or over goes your load.

Last time I took the baby out
I took it in the pram,
I turned the blooming thing upside down
I don't know where I am;
I cracked the baby's head
And I took a bit off his nose,
And now I daren't go home again
Forfraid of my life I'll rue (lose?)


Now if you have the toothache
And suffering with pain,
Never go to the dentist
For that's a silly game.
Just fill your mouth with water
That's been mixed with castor oil,
And sit upon the fire a while
Until it begins to boil.


Now, if you've got a jawing wife
Get her in a boat,
Take her out, throw her in,
See if she can float.
If she go down and up three times,
Then you sit and think;
You take your oars and row away
And leave the old devil to sink.


From Roud's 8 instances, this obviously music hall song would appear to be peculiar to Suffolk, one of many which seem to be unique to the area.  The late Al Sealey told me of an informally organised 'pub circuit' of music hall gigs which used to operate in East Anglia right up to the early 1930s, where second-string semi-pro performers would put on shows of their own songs together with the popular hits of the day.  This might help to explain the huge number of good, though not widely known, music hall type songs still to be found in the area.

Walter Pardon also sang this song (MTCD305-6).  His tune and words are noticeably different from Percy's, though they are clearly both versions of the same song.  It was also in the repertoire of Bill Smith of Shropshire (MTCD351), and his words are even more different.

Given all the above information - how on earth does Sheila Stewart, include it in her book Queen Amang the Heather (2006) p.61?

2 - 20  The Wild Rapparee (Roud 13716)
Albert Shaw, 1.4.70

How green are the fields that are washed by the Finn,
How grand are the houses that those spoilers live in.
How fresh are the crops in the valley to see,
But the heath is the home of the Wild Raparee

Now out on the moor, where the winds shriek and howl,
Sure, he makes his lone home there, amid the wild fowl.
No-one there to welcome, no comrade has he,
Ah, God help the poor outlaw, the Wild Raparee.

He has robbed many rich of their gold and their crowns,
He has outrode the soldiers who hunted him down,
Alive he has boasted, "They'll never take me.
No swordsman will capture the Wild Raparee."

Now this morning those swordsmen returned from the heath,
And the sword of their leader was gone from its sheath.
The bright blade was dripping with red blood to see,
From the head of the outlaw, the Wild Raparee.

There are clouds all around like a mantle tonight,
And the hare seeks its den as it trembles with fright.
No star in the heaven, no moon can we see;
They are mourning tonight for the Wild Raparee

There's a stone covered grave, on the bare mountainside.
There's a plain wooden cross on which this is inscribed,
'Dear stranger, kneel down, say an Ave for me. 
I was sentenced for being a Wild Raparee.'

This song featured regularly during the '50s and '60s on the RTÉ Saturday programme sponsored by Walton's, The Songs our Fathers Loved.  This song has only one Roud entry; Hugh Shields collected it from Joseph Boyle in Glencolumbkille, Co Donegal, in 1968.

2 - 21  The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington (Roud 483, Child 105)
Alf Wildman, 25.2.70

There was a youth, and a well-beloved youth,
And he was a squire's son
He loved the bailiff's daughter dear
That lived in Islington.

That's where we are now, innit?

Now when his friends did understand
His fond but foolish mind
They sent him up to fair London
An apprentice for to bind.

Now when he had been gone seven long years
And his true love never could find
Up to fair London she would go
To prove his secret mind.

She started off along the highway
In the summer hot and dry
She sat herself down on a green mossy bank
And her love came riding by.

She started up with her colour so red
Catching hold of the bridle-rein
"One penny, one penny, kind sir", she said
"Will ease me of much pain."

"Before I give to you one penny,
Pray tell me where you were born?"
"At Islington, kind Sir", she said.
"I left there yester-morn."

"Then if you were born at Islington
Pray tell me whether you know
The bailiff's daughter of Islington?"
"She's dead, long, long ago."

"Then if she be dead then take my horse,
My saddle and bridle also,
For I will to some foreign country go
Where no man shall me know."

"Oh stay, oh stay, thou goodly youth
She is not dead, she's here alive
The bailiff's daughter of Islington
She is ready to be your bride."

"Oh farewell grief and welcome joy
Ten thousand times therefore
For I have found my own true love

I thought I'd see no more."

A song whose popularity (149 Roud instances) seems to stem mainly from having been taught in schools during the early years of the 20th century.  Of the 24 sound recordings, only three seem to have made the transfer to CD: Daisy Chapman (MTCD308); Bob Lewis (VTC6CD); Albert Beale (Rounder CD 1775).

2 - 22  The False Bride (Roud 154)
Seamus Ennis, 15.7.69

One bright summer's evening as the sun it set low
By highways and byways, to the forest I do go.
The lads and gay lasses set up a great show
For me and my false-hearted lover.
For me and my false-hearted lover.

And when I see my truelove to the church go
The bride and the bridegroom were followed also
I followed after with my heart full of woe
To see my love wed to another x 2

And the priest on the altar, he loudly did cry
If there's anyone bargained, now let him reply.
I did not bid for her, I tell you no lie
For I knew in my heart I'd not get her x 2

And when I see my truelove in the church stand
With the gold ring on her finger and her love by the hand
I'd give her all my house and free land
Although she being wed to another x 2

And into the breakfast they gave me a seat
I sat down beside her; not a bite could I eat
I loved her fond company far dearer than meat
Although she being wed to another x 2

And the foresters asked me as I passed them by
"How many trees grow all on the salt sea?"
I answered them sadly with a tear in my eye
"How many ships sail in the forest?" X 2

You may dig my grave over, make it long, wide and deep
Place a stone at my head and a sod to my feet
Lay me down gently to have that long sleep
It's the best way that I can forget her x 2

A song with a selection of titles; by far the most common is The False Bride, which always seems grossly unfair since in many versions, as here, he's 'never once mentioned to have her'.  Others include the Forsaken Bridegroom, I Aince Lo'ed a Lass, Lambs on the Green Hill and Maggie Murphy's The Clock Striking Nine.

There are 140 Roud entries from all over the English speaking world (except the USA, strangely), with England and Scotland each accounting for about a third of the total.  The Week Before Easter seems to be the preferred English title and False / Forsaken Bride / Lover the Scots.  In fact, I had always thought that these two songs were actually considered by musicologists to be separate entities despite sharing a number of verses and images.

Other versions available on CD: Danny Brazil (MTCD345-7); Lizzie Higgins (MTCD337); Pop Maynard (MTCD309-0); Maggie Murphy (VT134CD); Harry Burgess (TSCD665); Sarah Makem (MTCD353-5 & TSCD651); Duncan Williamson (Kyloe101); Elizabeth Stewart (Elphinstone EICD002); Gordon Hall (Country Branch CBCD095); Geordie Hanna (The Fisher's Cot CD). 

2 - 23  Young Taylor (You Subjects of England) (Roud 851)
Jack Smith, 5.11.69

Come all you bold fellows, come listening to me,
I'll sing you a ditty - won't cause you no pain;
Oh, with twelve keepers and poachers also.
As we go through those covers - good old luck to us all.

We had not been there long, ten minutes nor more,
For twelve jolly keepers come a-drawing bold nigh.
It's one 'til each other , "Oh boys, what shall we do?"
One 'til each other, "We'll all stand true."
One 'til each other, "We'll all be as one.
We'll fight these twelve keepers 'til the battle is won."

Young Taylor got worried, he sat down to rest,
Young Taylor got worried, he sat down and lay,
And five of these keeper on young Taylor did play.
Young Taylor got worried, he set down to rest,
Young Taylor was taken, although he fought the best.

There's judges and jurymen, to him they said,
"Would you confess, oh, your sweet life we'll save?"
"Oh no" said young Taylor, "That won't never do,
For since you have got me, I will die for them all."

There's none like young Taylor, you people, you know,
There's none like young Taylor, you keepers also,
Who fought through those covers, some winters ago.

Of all poaching songs known to southern English Gypsies, none has proved so popular as this ballad of Young William Taylor - and yet, very few have sung it to collectors.  Structurally, the song is based on The King and the Keeper, and many Gypsies who knew William Taylor also knew part, if not all, of the older ballad - as did Pop Maynard.

As with many other songs in his repertoire, Jack's version is similar to Pop Maynard's - but also very different.  Although Roud has 19 entries for this fine poaching song, which Philip Donnellan recorded for the BBC from Sam Larner in 1958, only two other sound recordings seem to exist, both appearing on Musical Traditions Records CDs: Jasper Smith (MTCD302); and Pop Maynard (MTCD401-2).  Fred Hamer collected a terrific version from Charles Shelton in Bedfordshire, which appears in Garners Gay, p.34.  Elements of Jack's, Pop's and Charles' combined together make the song I sing - perhaps my favourite poaching song ever!

2 - 24  Stepdance Tune, Roamin' in the Gloamin', I Love a Lassie
Scan Tester, Sept 1971

This track was not actually recorded by us at the King's Head; the few recordings of Scan we did make seem to have been lost.  This one was made by Vic Smith at the Lewes Arms in Lewes on 11th September 1971 - thanks for this, Vic.

Rod Stradling - 24.5.12


  • John and Gill Hodkinson - for memories, and most of the better photos
  • Danny Stradling - for song transcriptions and proof reading
  • Ken Keable - for information
  • Jim Ward of Country Branch Records - for noise reduction on the sound files
  • Steve Roud - for providing MT with a copy of his Folk Song Index, whence came some of the historical information on the songs.  Also for help with finding songs and allocating Roud numbers to new entrants to the Index.

Booklet: text, editing, DTP, printing

CDs: editing, production by Rod Stradling
noise reduction: Jim Ward

A Musical Traditions Records production © 2012

[Introduction]   [Tracklists]   [Guests]   [CD One]   [CD Two]   [Credits]

Article MT273

Top Home Page MT Records Articles Reviews News Editorial Map

Site designed and maintained by Musical Traditions Web Services   Updated: 24.5.12