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Widdecombe Fair


Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare,
For I want to go to Widdecombe Fair.


(Chorus) With Bill Hewer, Jan Brewer,
Harry Hawkin, Joe Davey,
Philly Wigpot, George Parsley,

Dick Wilson, Tom Cobleigh and all.
'Ere is Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.


Oh when will I see my old mare again,
Be Friday noon or Saturday soon.


Then Friday came and Saturday soon,
Tom Pearce's old mare he hadn't trotted home.


So Tom Pearce he went to the top of the hill,
He saw his old mare there a-making her will.


Tom Pearce's old mare fell sick and her died,
Tom Pearce sat down on a stone and he cried.


When the wind whistles cold on the moors of a night,
Tom Pearce's old mare appears ghastly white.


And all the night long you hear shirkings and groans,
Tom Pearces's old mare is a-rattling her bones.


Now that was the end of that shocking affair.


And that was the end of poor Tom's old grey mare.


        The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould published Widecombe Fair in ‘Songs of the West’ (1895) stating that the original Tom Cobleigh lived in Spreyton in a house near Yeoford Junction and suggesting that the names in the chorus all belonged to Sticklepath. These two villages on the edge of Dartmoor are only a few miles from where Bob Cann was brought up and the version he sings here came from his grandfather. The song was included in many song collections including ‘Ballads Ancient and Modern’ by Robert MacIntyre (1929) and was sometimes adapted to other locations. Sussex singer George (Pop) Maynard sang a version which he called Lansdowne Fair which listed different participants who were led by Uncle Tom Cockeral.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson



























































Richard of Taunton Deane


Last New Year's Eve, so I've heard say,

Young Richard he mounted his dobbin grey,

And he trotted along to Taunton Deane,

For to court the parson's daughter, Jean.


(Chorus) With a dumble dum dory, dumble down day.


Now young Richard he had on his Sunday clothes,

With his buck skin breeches and silken hose.

And a brand new cap upon his head

As were bedecked with ribbons red


Now young Dick rode along without any fear,

'Til he came to the home of his own sweet dear,

Then he up and shouted "Hey hello,

Be the folks at home?" Said he say, "No!"


Well the servants quickly let Dick in,

So as he his courtship might begin.

Young Dick he strode into the hall,

And loudly for Miss Jean did bawl.


Now Miss Jean come down without delay,

For to hear what young Dick had a got for to say,

"Well I suppose you do know Miss Jean,

That I be Richard of Taunton Deane."


"I'm an honest man although I be poor,

And I never weren't in love before.

But my father sent me out to woo,

And I can fancy none but you."


"Well if I consent to be your bride,

Pray how for me will you provide? "

"Oh I'll give you all I have I'm sure,

And what can a man do for ye more?"


"For I can plough and I can sow,

And I can reap and I can mow.

And I goes to market with father's hay,

And I earns me nine pence every day."


"Why nine pence a day will never do,

For I must have silks and satins too.

'Twould never do for you and I."

"Oh come!" said Dick, "Us can but try."


"Look I got gurt pig pen up in the sty,

Is to come to me when granny did die.

And if you consent to marry me now,

Why father will give us the old fat sow."


Now Dick's compliments were so polite,

He'd won Miss Jean before it were night.

And when he got no more for to say,

Oh he give her a kiss and he rode away.


With a dumble dum dory,  dumble dum dory,  dumble dum dory, dumble down day.


        Cecil Sharp collected this song from Mrs Eliza Hutchings and published it in ‘Folk songs from Somerset’. The BBC recorded the song in the 1950s from George Bunston of Hambridge and it became somewhat of local anthem in that area. Bob and Jacqueline Patten recorded several versions in the 1970s from Charlie Showers and Harry Adams as well as George Withers. In their book ‘Somerset Scrapbook’ (1987) they include a copy of a broadside for Richard of Taunton Dean which states that it was printed and sold by T. Batchelor, opposite the Refuge for the Destitute, Hackney Road (London). Along side this is are written version entitled Dumble Dum Deary. In fact the song was widespread and was published by several broadside printers around the country where various other three-syllable place names were used.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson






























































Maggy May


Spring has come, the flowers in bloom,
And the birds sung out their lay.
And by a little murmuring stream,
I first met Maggie May.

(Chorus) My little 'witchy Maggy,
Singing all the day;
Oh! How I love her none can tell,
My little Maggie May.


Her hair was gold, her eyes were blue,

And shining like the day.

Her heart was ever pure and true,
My little Maggie May.


Although her voice is ever still,

'Tis like an angel's lay.

I hear it still where're I go,

The voice of Maggie May.

The years have flown, my eyes are dim.

My hair is scant and grey.

But never will I cease to love,

My long lost Maggy May.

        Little Maggie May was written in America in 1869 by G.W. Moore with music by Charles W. Blamphin. It was published in ‘Songs of the Sunny South’ (1929) which included, folk songs, spirituals, minstrel and Stephen Foster songs. In more recent years this song has became popular in Padstow through the singing of Charlie Bate, to who Tommy credited the song.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson





























































I'm an old Donkey Driver


Now I'm an old donkey driver,

I'm the best one on the line.

There ain't another donkey that come up to mine.

I have a little whistle, which my donkey knew.

Oh a devil a donk for music was a-huley-eye-honky-hoo


(Chorus) Wow, she back, she wow, she neddy, come here,

and we all shout hurray, trig a ne honeky who

There aint a donkey on the road that can beat Jeruley-eye-honky-hoo.


Now I entered my donkey in the derby,

And I backed him for a place.

I knew my old donkey could run a goodish pace,

For I had my little whistle, and off the donkey flew.

And the first one past the winning post was huley-eye-honky-hoo.


Now I take my old donkey down as far as Harlyn on the sand,

To earn a little money and to hear St Merryn band.

A fat lady got on his back and over her head he flew,

Oh a devil a donk for music was Jeruley-eye-honky-hoo.


        This song was published as Jerusalem Cuckoo on a broadside in Manchester by Pearson and is in the G. R. Axon collection in Manchester. It has not often been recorded from traditional singers. Peter Kennedy recorded Derek Cripps singing in 1957. He was the landlord of the Farmer’s Arms in St Merryn, which is probably where Charlie got the song and the mention of Harlyn (the nearest beach to St Merryn) shows the song has been localised. The only other recordings are from Sussex singers George Belton and Harry Upton who both have Brighton as the beach location. Harry Upton’s version can be heard on TSCD664 ‘Troubles they are but few’.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

























































Peter the Miller


When Peter the Miller went into the fair,

Young Paul, very downcast, met with him there,

"What's wrong?" Peter cried. "I'm in love" said Paul,

"And terribly troubled I am with it all.

Though the maid, she is willing and ready to wed,

Yet her father's as crusty as home-made bread,

And he swears that wedded we never shall be.

Oh what would you do, if you were me?

What would you do, what would you do, what would you do, if you were me?"


Well said Peter the Miller, "When I were young,

Such crusty old fathers could go and get hung.

I'd choose a dark night, if she didn't say nay,

Slip an arm round her waist and I'd up and away.

I'll help 'ee, me lad, and tonight if you'd care,

Why, I'll lend 'ee me trap and me old grey mare.

Make off with thee lass, lad, that's what I'd do,

That's what I'd do, if I were you,

That's what I'd do, that's what I'd do, that's what I'd do, if I were you."


Well, when Peter the Miller got home that night,

No log in the fire, in the window no light,

But where could his daughter be, plague take the maid,

What's this, here's a note on the table laid.

"Dear Father, we thought your advice was so good,

We carried it out just as soon as we could.

If you ask our advice as to what you should do,

Oh, we'd just make the best of it, if we were you,

That's what we'd do, that's what we'd do, if we were you."


        Bob and Jacqueline Patten first recorded George Withers singing this song at Isle Abbotts in 1983. They commented that they had not seen or heard the song before or since and it certainly does not seem to appear in any other published collections. George got it from his mother and he thinks that she might have learnt it at school. Whenever he sings it George appeals to the audience to see if anybody has heard it before. Nobody has yet!

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

































































The Watercress Girl


One day I took a ramble, down by a running stream,
Where the water lilies gambol, it was a pleasant scene.
I spied a pretty maiden, a maiden from the dell.
She was gathering watercresses, was my little watercress girl.

(Chorus) And her hair hung down in tresses,
Down by the stream that runs through the mill.
She was gathering watercresses,
Was my little watercress girl.

I asked if she was lonely, she answered me with a smile;
Oh sir, I am not lonely, this is where I daily toil.
I have to rise up early, my cresses for to sell.
My christian name is Martha, I'm Martha the watercress girl.

I'll have to rise up early, and dress me like an earl,
For I'm going to marry Martha, my little watercress girl.

        The song dates back to the late 19th century and is one of two songs with watercress themes that were popular with traditional singers. It was published on broadsides by Such of London and Sanderson of Edinburgh. Roy Palmer collected a version from the Staffordshire singer George Dunn, Norfolk’s Harry Cox sang it and his version can be heard on TSCD512D ‘The Bonny Labouring Boy’ as did Sussex’s Johnny Doughty who can be heard on VTC1CD ‘Stepping it Out!’.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson





























































Brimbledown Fair


As I was a-riding to Brimbledown Fair,

I saw pretty Nancy a-curling her hair.

I gave her a wink and she rolled a dark eye,

And I said to myself, "I'll be there, by and by."


I watched and I watched all that night in the dark,

For to ask pretty Nancy to be my sweetheart.

But all she replied when I saw her next day,

"Are you the young rogue they call Ramble Away?"


"Oh," I said, "Pretty Nancy don't you laugh in my face."

But she answered by slipping away from the place.

And to find her I rambled through fair Lincolnshire,

And I vowed I would wander I would not care where.


So all you fair maidens where ever you be,

Go and find pretty Nancy and bring her to me.

And all you young fellows take heed and take care,

Or else you'll get brimbled at Brimbledown Fair.


        Often called Young Ramble Away this popular song was published by many broadside printers and was collected extensively in the West Country. H.E.D. Hammond noted down the song from William Barrett in Piddletown, Dorset in 1905 and Cecil Sharp collected three versions including one sung to him in 1904 by Jim Woodland at Stocklinch, Somerset. Sharp published a composite text in ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ (Series 3 - 1906). George learned the song from his father, who had lived next door to another of Sharp’s informants James Bishop. In other parts of the country different names have appeared including Burlington Fair (Suffolk) and Brocklesby Fair  (Lincolnshire).

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

























































Nobody Noticed me


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,

I never got fed for the first seven weeks,

'Cos nobody noticed me.


Once for excitement I rode in a train,

And 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 out 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 lady 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,

I crawled under the bed and I laid there all night,

And nobody noticed me.


        This comic piece has all the hallmarks of a music hall song. Bob learned it when he was a youngster, from a travelling drover who used to visit the markets and fairs in his locality. The only other recording that seems to exist is of Bob Arnold of Gloucestershire, made by Gwilym Davies.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson




























































The Fly be on the Turmit


I be a turmit hoer, from Somersetshire I came,

My parents be hard working folk, Giles Wapstraw be me name.

T'where on a Summer's morning all at the break of day,

I took me hoe and off did go, some fifty mile away.


(Chorus) Now some delights in hay-making and a few be fond of mowing.

But of all the jobs that I likes best g'ie the turmit hoeing.

The fly, the fly, oh the fly be on the turmit,
But it's all me eye and no use to try, for to keep them off the turmits.


My being a tidy young chap I soon got I a place,

Like any Turk I set to work and I took it by the piece.

I gaily hoed right cheerfully for good old farmer Blower,

And he vowed and swore as how I were a ripping turmit hoer.


In Winter I drives oxen across the fields a-ploughing,

For to get the furrows straight and clear all ready for turmit sowing.

And when the frost bears up the wealds, then to dress the land we're going,

For without manure 'tis certain sure no turmits will be growing.


We works about the farmyard 'til Springtime brings us mowing,

But I likes none of it half so well as I do the turmit hoeing.

And when the Harvest Home be come and nut brown ales are flowing,

Then I gaily bids them all good bye, I be off to me turmit hoeing.


        The song pre-dates 1881 when its tune was adopted as the official march of the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. It was one of the first songs Cecil Sharp noted down in Somerset, from Louie Hooper and Charles Parsons and Captain Lewis in 1906. The BBC recorded it in Gloucestershire in 1938, in Wiltshire in 1954 and in Dorset in 1954. What seems to be a quintessential west country song actually turns up all over the country. Turmut Hoeing is included in Lucy Broadwood’s ‘English County Songs’ collected in Oxfordshire and Shropshire’s Fred Jordan also sang it. The song gained widespread popularity in the 1920s through its release on a 78 rpm recording by the country comedian Albert Richardson. Keith Summers recorded it from Norfolk singer Ted Laurence, which can be heard on TSCD670 ‘There is a man Upon the Farm’.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson





























































As I was a-Walking


Now as I was a walking one morning in May,
I a-spied a young couple so fond they did say,
For one was a pretty maid so sweet and so fair,
And the other was a soldier, and a bold grenadier.


(Chorus) And they kissed so sweet and comforting, as they clung to each other,

They went arm in arm along the road like sister and brother.

They went arm in arm along the road 'til they came to a stream,

And they both sat down together love to hear the nightingale sing.


Then out of his knapsack he took a fine fiddle,
And he played such a merry tunes that you ever did hear,

And he played such a merry tunes, that the valley did ring,

And they both sat down together love to hear the nightingale sing.


And then said the young maid, "Will you marry me?"

"Oh no!" cried the soldier, "However can that be,"

"For I have a wife at home in the old country,

And she is the prettiest little thing that you ever did see."


"Now I'm off to India for seven long years,

Drinking wine and strong whiskey instead of small beers,

And if ever I return again, it will be in the Spring.

And we'll both sit down together love to hear the nightingale sing."


        Often known as The Grenadier and the Lady this a popular song in the West Country. H.E.D. Hammond collected five variants in Somerset and Dorset between 1905-7 including one from W. Barlett at Wimborne and in 1950 Peter Kennedy recorded Walter Haynes singing it in the bar of the Ilchester Arms at Abbotsbury. The song was also popular in other parts of the country and frequently turns up in America. It is a favourite with the Holme Valley Beagles in South Yorkshire where it’s called Where the Watter Rattles and George Dunn sang it in the Midlands under the title The Nightingale Sings.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson


























































Someone in Somerset


One Summer's morning down Somerset way,

I was driving my pigs to the market that day,

When a comely young Somerset girl I a-spied.

So I said her "Miss can I give you a ride?"

She just gave a blush and she jumped up so quick,

And she sat down beside me and that did the trick.


(Chorus) 'Cos now I love someone in Somerset,

Down in sunny old Somerset,

I be mortal fond of she.

Dang me buttons and she loves me.

Some day down in old Somerset, joy bells you will hear.

There'll be a wedding in summertime,

Down in old Somersetshire


We sat in the cart with the pigs and the hay,

And she looked at I in a lover like way.

And I blushed and she blushed, a terrible red,

And Dobbin the horse started shaking his head.

So I said, "Gee up Dobbin come on, let her rip,

And don't you look round or I'll give you the whip.

Because I love someone in Somerset etc.


Just then as we drove in the shade of some trees,

I popped the old question and gave her a squeeze.

And when she replied she'd be my little wife,

Why I never felt such gurt fool in my life.

So I gave her a kiss and that made Dobbin start,

aAnd half of the pigs tumbled out of the cart,

Because I love etc.


        George was taught this comic song by his mother, and it doesn’t seem to turn up anywhere else.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

























































The Robber's Retreat


Come fill up your glasses and let us be merry,
For to rob and to plunder it is our intent.

(Chorus) As we roam through the valley, where the lily and the roses
And the beautiful Kashmir lay drooping his head.
Then away, then away, then away -a -a -a ay.
To those caves in yonder mountain where the robbers retreat.

Hark, hark, in the distance there's footsteps approaching,
Stand, stand and deliver, it is our watch cry.

For to roam etc.


        The Cadgwith Anthem, as it has become known, originates from this small fishing village on the south Cornwall coast. For years the bar of the ‘Cadgwith Hotel’ has resounded to the local fisherman’s rendition of this unique song. Peter Kennedy recorded there in 1956 when the singers described the song as “just given to us by the old friends gone by” and John Henry Jane was said to be the first man who sang in the bar. The song is now popular with choirs all over the county.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson































































My Meatless Day


It's my meatless day, my meatless day,

I'm not going to eat any sort of meat, meat, meat, meat.

I'm feeling pale for I stowed away:

Nine apple dumplings, ten loaves of bread,

Five pair of kippers and a big cod's head.

A seed cake, a corn cake, a little bit of plum,

Jam roly poly and I never left a crumb.

For it's my meatless day.


Now the farmer's boy that worked near York.,

The day the pig died we had pork.

Next day the old cow died and we had beef for breakfast, dinner and tea.

We had mutton when the sheep pegged out, I got over fed.

Next day the farmer's missus died,

So I got up and said,


"It's my meatless day, my meatless day,

I'm not going to eat any sort of meat, meat, meat, meat.

I'm feeling pale for I stowed away:

Nine apple dumplings, ten loaves of bread,

Five pair of kippers and a big cod's head.

A seed cake, a corn cake, a little bit of plum,

Jam roly poly and I never left a crumb.

For it's my meatless day."


        This song originates around the time of the first world war and it was performed on the stage by Ernie Mayne in 1917 and he may have written it. Dave Bland also came across the song in the West Country from Charlie Showers at Drayton, Somerset in 1973.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson





























































Joe Muggins


Just listen to me and I'll tell you a song,

If you stay very quiet then it won't take me long.

You asked me to sing you something that's new,

Well to please you tonight I don't care if I do.


(Chorus) Singing fol the dol latter er-day

fol the dol latter er-day

fol the dol latter er-day

fol the dol day.


My name is Joe Muggins and a farmer am I.

Once I courted a girl although I was rather shy.

I stood under her haystack 'til I was dripping wet through.

And she says, "Joey" she says, "Why don't you come in for a minute or two."

So I said to my lass, "I don't care if I do."


I slipped into the kitchen and she put all things right,

Three pounds of fat bacon I soon whipped out of sight.

And she says, "Joey" she says, "Here's a gurt dish of dumplings, best have they too."

So I said to my lass, "I don't care if I do."


When the dumplings were done I made ready to go,

She catched hold of my hand and she looked very blue.

She says, "Joey" she says, "Why don't you kiss me like lovers that's true."

So I said to my lass, "I don't care if I do."


Well we kissed and we cuddled, true lovers, delight,

And she asked me to make her my own little wife.

She still held my hand and looked very blue,

So I said to my lass, "I don't care if I do."


Well the very next morning we went to be wed.

Old parson opened his book and here's the words that he said,

He said, "For better or worse you should have her you know."

So I said to old parson, "I don't care if I do."


Well now we are married and happy we be,

Though we haven't any children to bless she or me.

She says, "Joey" she says, "If you were to persevere now, we might just have a few."

So I said to my lass, "I don't care if I do."


Now I've finished my song and I hope I've pleased all.

I couldn't sing you another if you gave me a call.

'Cos you know very well, I've already sung two,

But to please you tonight, "I don't care if I do."


        This is a widespread song and it was published by the ‘Poet’s Box’ in Glasgow in 1869 when it was described as being sung to its original tune and priced at one penny. It appeared as a broadside in London published by Such and it has also turned up in Ireland. Robin Morton recorded it from John Maguire from Co. Fermanagh as Joe Higgins and it was published in Walton’s ‘Treasury of Irish Songs and Ballads - part 1’ (1968) as I Don’t Mind if I Do. George learned it from a neighbour of his in Isle Abbotts, Harry Adams who had been recorded by Bob and Jacqueline Patten They also recorded the song from Mrs Amy Ford of Low Ham, Somerset. Other versions turn up in the Kidson manuscripts (Yorkshire) and Peter Kennedy recorded for the BBC in 1956 from Bill Cameron, St Mary’s, Scilly Isles.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson



























































The Craftsmen on the Moor


All around our lovely countryside with ancient sights galore.

Like many, many you can find on dear old Dart-i-moor.

Where men did sweat and toil my boys, in the the heat and dust.

Just enough to keep the family alive in rags and crust.


They would wake up with the lark me boys and off to work would go,

Amongst the gorse and heather and across the streams that flow.

The foxes and the badgers all a-going home to sleep.

And the cry of real true morn me boys from the birds, the bees and sheep.


With their tools kept sharp at the village forge and their cider from the farm,

Their knapsack full of bread and cheese, to keep them fit and warm.

They would toil away from dawn to dusk their harvest for to reap       

With rigs of square-cut vegs me boys and piles of black cut peat.


They would leave them there to dry me boys in the breeze, the wind and sun,

Until the days were short once more and their summer's work was done.

They would load them on their carts and drays and homeward they would tread;

In the Winter keep their family warm and bake their daily bread.


Take a walk across that lovely moor and there you'll surely find,

The granite walls and circles boys that they have left behind,

The churches and the bridges and the farmer with his barn,

And the lovely granite gateways boys where they may stand and yarn.


They may talk about the day me boys the jumper bruised their toes,

Instead of going straight and true into the clean cut hole.

Where they would hammer in strict time to a whistle or a song,

And the gads that split the rocks me boys, so straight, so neat and long.


Take a walk around the countryside, the village and the farm,

With the lovely granite churches, the gatepost and the barn,

It's there you'll find their craftsmanship so neat, so true, so plain.

And once was just a granite rock on the moor in the mist and rain.


Take a walk around old Dart-i-moor where the sun does brightly shine,

Upon the mounds of rubble left from down there in the mine,

In the dark and dust where they did sweat for all the tin and ore,

That made the tools their brothers used, so way out on the moor.


Take a walk across old Dart-i-moor by day, by noon or night,

The craftsmanship that you'll find there, it is a lovely sight.

Don't interfere with their great work, that they have left behind,

Keep dear old Dartmoor as it is for the sake of all mankind.


Bob Cann loved life on Dartmoor and he wrote this song to celebrated the dying trades and craftsmen who had worked in the area for decades.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson





























































Golden Kippers


Now as I was returning from a friendly call,

I saw some kippers on the coster's stall.

I enquired the price of the merchant there..

"God bless you sir, they're a penny a pair."


( Chorus) Oh, those golden kippers, oh, those golden kippers, oh.

Those golden kippers I had to buy because they smelt so sweet.


Now I tied them together with a piece of rope,

I paid my bill and prepared to slope.

Alright says he, you leave them alone,

Like little bo peep sheep they'll walk home.


A lady who was passing by,

She took her handkerchief, she wiped her eye,

She said to me ,"Oh dear, oh dear,

There's something wrong with the drains round here."


Now a policeman who was on his beat,

Began to double up and down the street.

I said, "My friend, why are you so fat?"

He said," There's an awful escape of gas."


Now soldier who saluted me.

"Aleye" says I " Aleye", says he.

Says, "A few of your rank I've always doubt.

But there the rankest ever I smelt."


My wife she met me at the door,

She gave one sniff and fell upon the floor.

I picked her up, she shook her head,

She gave one gasp and then fell dead.


So I went to the cupboard and I got a dish,

I put the kippers on and went to bed.

In the morning when I came down.

The fish was gone, but the cat was dead.


So I lost my wife, the cat and the fish,

And all I had was an empty dish.

So take my tip when you go in for a treat,

Don't buy kippers when they're smelling sweet.


            This is a comic parody of the popular minstrel song Golden Slippers and is another of Charlie’s obscure songs which doesn’t seem to turn up anywhere else. Its origins might in fact be local and a version with slightly different words is currently popular with the Boscastle and Delabole choirs.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson





























































Forty Five Miles

Oh forty-five miles I've travelled today,

I saw a fine cottage beside the highway,

That I never saw before, oh before,

That I never saw before.


I boldly stepped up and I knocked at the door,

And a pretty young lassie skipped over the floor,

And I never saw her before, oh before,

And I never saw her before.


I said, "Love it hails, it rains and it snows,

And I be wet through all my clothes.

And I pray you open the door, oh the door,

And I pray you open the door."


"Oh no, oh no, that never can be,

For no one should dwell in this house but me.

And I dare not open the door, oh the door,

And I dare not open the door.


Well I turned myself round with miles to go,

And the storm grew dark and the rain did blow.

But she called me back again, again,

She called me back again.


"Take off they wet clothes love and put on some dry,

And hop into bed here along with I.

And merry we will be, we will be,

And merry we will be."


That night we spent in sweet content,

And the very next day to the church we went,

And I made her my lawful bride, oh my bride,

And I made her my lawful bride.


So all you young fellows who ever you be,

Kiss all the pretty maidens that ever you see,

And they'll call you back again and again,

And they'll call you back again.


        This song appears in the Hammond and Gardiner manuscripts as Forty Long Miles, collected from Mrs Gulliver, Combe Florey, Somerset in 1905 and both Sabine Baring-Gould and Cecil Sharp collected versions in the West Country. Peter Kennedy recorded a version in Cornish from Joe Thomas of Constantine entitled Glaw, Kerer, Ergh Ow-Cul Yma. The song was popular all around the country often under the name Cottage by the Wood or Cold, Haily Rainy Night, and there are comparable stories in other countries. Brahams produced a setting of the German version Ver Gebliches Standchen and it was utilised by Burns in Oh! Open the Door. George learned his version from Harry Adams.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson






























































I be Terrible Shy

Now my mother tells me that I ought to marry.

She tells me so five or six times every day.

"You'll lose all the girls, George," she says, "If you tarry."

That's all very fine but I don't know the way,

Just give I a sheep or a bullock to handle,

There's no lad in Somerset smarter they say.

But when it's a maid, I snuffs out like a candle,

I can't even linger to bid 'em good day.

For it's oh dear I be terrible shy,

Terrible shy with the maids.

Mind there be one or two as I'd take for a wife,

But when I sees them coming I runs for me life.

And it's oh dear, though me feet be at zero,

My head's ninety nine in the shade.

Mind with horses and pigs they do say I'm fine,

There's no flow of language more powerful than mine,

With your "Over old lady," and "Up, you gurt swine,"

But you can't say those things to a maid.


Now there's some people tells me these women be rum folk,

There's no understanding 'em so I've heard tell.

Well all I says is, "Married Life might suit some folk,

But it wouldn't suit I 'cos I know very well."

I once asked me father what he thought about it,

He collared me ear 'tween his finger and thumb,

And he says, "Now look here lad I aint going to shout it,

But if you for a wife try and find one what's dumb."

For it's oh dear I be terrible shy,

Terrible shy with the maids.

Mind there be one or two as I'd take for a wife,

But when I sees them coming I runs for my life.

And it's oh dear, though me feet be at zero,

My head's ninety nine in the shade.

At choosing a mare I reckon to be alright,

I can tell you her age and her temper at sight.

And if she's been chewing her bedding be night,

But you can't tell them things with a maid.


There's a lass they call Peg, all the fellows be courting,

Her's reckoned the prettiest girl in the place.

But somehow or 'nother she ain't one for sporting,

There's precious few lads gets the sight of her face.

But yet I've got this notion 'tis I that she's after,

To meet I she'll sometimes go out of her way.

Then as soon as I'm gone she brims over with laughter,

I be mortal afraid that she'll get I some day.

For it's oh dear, I be terrible shy,

Terrible shy with the maids.

Why I ain't saying Peg wouldn't make a good wife,

But when I see her coming I runs for my life.

And it's oh dear, but these lasses be clever,

She'll get I to church I'm afraid.

Well if she were a horse now I'd not care a fig,

I'd harness her fast to my fathers old gig,

Or could tie up her hind leg if she were a pig,

But you can't do those things with a maid.


        George learned this in his late teens when he used to go to the local Farmers’ clubs. It has the hallmarks of a A. J. Coles (of Jan Stewer fame) and it is certainly written in his style.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson
































































Goodbye Beer


There was a little man and he had a little gun,

And the beer he used to swallow,

And the barmaid she would holler,

No beer today, no beer today,

No beer today it's Sunday,

So call around here on Monday.

So goodbye beer,

For ever more.

My boozing days are nearly o'er.

So when I die,

Don't bury me at all,

Just pickle my bones with alcohol,

With a bottle of booze,

From my head to my feet,

And then I know my bones will keep.


        Yet again Charlie Pitman comes up with a song that doesn’t seem to be found anywhere else.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson





























































Pleasant and Delightful


How pleasant and delightful on a bright summer's morn,
O'er the hills and the meadows were covered in corn,
And the blackbirds and thrushes sang from every greenwood tree,
And the larks they sang melodious at the dawning of the day.

And the larks they sang melodious,

And the larks they sang melodious,
And the larks they sang melodious at the dawning of the day.

Said the sailor and his true love as they walk-ed one day,
Said the sailor to his truelove, "I am bound far away,
I am bound for the Indies where the loud cannons roar,
I must go and leave my Nancy, she's the girl I adore.

I must go and leave my Nancy,

I must go and leave my Nancy,

I must go and leave my Nancy, she's the girl I adore."

Then the ring from her finger she instantly drew,
Saying, "Take this dear William and my heart goes too."
And as he embraced her, tears from her eyes fell,
Saying, "May I go along with you", "Nay Nancy, farewell."

Saying, "May I go along with you,"

Saying, "May I go along with you,"

Saying, "May I go along with you", "Nay Nancy, farewell."

"Fare thee well dearest Nancy, I can no longer stay,
For the topsail is hoisted and the anchor's aweigh.
Our good ship lies awaiting for the next flowing tide,
And if ever I return again, I'll make you my bride.

And if ever I return again,

And if ever I return again,

And if ever I return again, I'll make you my bride."

        The theme of the sailor returning from sea with a ring or other token to enable him to be recognised on his return is a popular one. This song dates back to the early part of the 17th century when it was issued as The Sailor and his True Love by Jennings of Water Lane, off Fleet Street, London. In the Hammond and Gardiner Manuscripts it appears under the same name and was collected from Mrs Barlett, Halstock, Leigh, Dorset in 1906. Although it has been a popular song in the West Country the song was also well known in East Anglia where it became an anthem in both the East Suffolk singing pubs, the Blaxhall Ship and the Eel’s Foot at Eastbridge. Cyril Poacher can heard singing it on TSCD652 ‘My Ship Shall Sail the Ocean’ and Geoff Ling on VTC2CD ‘Songs Sung in Suffolk’, whilst further up the coast in Norfolk both Sam Larner (TSCD511 ‘Now is The Time For Fishing’) and Harry Cox (RCD1839 ’What Will Become of England’) both sang it.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson




























































Jack the Jolly Tar


Oh, I am Jack and a jolly tar,
And I just came back from the sea so far.
Oh, I am Jack and a jolly tar,
And I just came back from the sea so far.
(Chorus) Hey diddley ding dong,
Hey diddley ding.

Now when Jack was walking through London city,
He heard a squire talking to a lady.
And Jack he heard that squire say,
"Tonight with you, love, I'm going to stay."


 "You must tie a long string all around your finger,
And dangle the other the end hanging out the window,
And I'll slip by and pull the string,
And you must come down love and let me in."


"Damn me," says Jack, "If I don't venture ,
For to pull this string hanging out this window."
So Jack slips by and he pulls the string,
And the lady came down and she let him in.

Along came the squire all hot with passion,
Saying, "Curse the women through all the nation!
For here am I, no string I've found,
And all my plans have gone to ground.

Well the morning came and the sun was streaming,
The lady woke up and started screaming.
'Cos there's our Jack in his tarry shirt,
And his old face all streaked with dirt.

"Oh what is this, you tarry sailor?
Did you break in for to steal my treasure?"
"Well no," says Jack, "I just pulled that string,
And you came down, ma'am, and let me in."

"I'm sorry ma'am will you please forgive me?
And I'll run away so no-one shall see me."
"Oh no," says she, "Don't you stray too far,
For I never will part from my Jack Tar."

        This is a humorous version of Jack on the Shore which was a popular song in both Britain and America although it wasn’t published by many broadside printers. The earliest of them was 1830. Cecil Sharp collected a version of the song from William Nott at Meshaw, Devon in 1904. Bob Copper of Rottingdean sang the song and he knew it as Pull on the String.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson






























































Cocktail Joe


Good evening white folks all.

I've just stepped in this hall.

To introduce myself you must know.

I'm the greatest dandy out.

You can hear the people shout.

"Oh there he go, that's Cocktail Joe the Dandy-o,

The dandy-o, the dandy-o.

Oh there he go, that's Cocktail Joe-o-o-o.


(Chorus) Lightening, thunder, jinny flitten, brandy-maker,

Flitter flacker, monkey job and up we go.,

Racker nacker dasher light, kay kie corrum,

Johnny there's none like Cocktail Joe.


Now as I walked down Broadway,

I heard an old girl say,

"Oh what a charming chap for a spree."

With a glass up to me eye,

As the old girl passed me by.

For there he  go that's Cocktail Joe the dandy-o.

The dandy-o, the dandy-o.

Oh there he go, that's Cocktail Joe-o-o-o.


Is there any lady here,

Who'd like to be my dear?

Just let her step up here before I go,

For a husband to her mind,

Is what she wants to find.

By golly I'm that Cocktail Joe the dandy-o,

The dandy-o, the dandy-o.

Oh there he go, that's Cocktail Joe-o-o-o.


        The first line of this song indicates it’s origins as a blacked-up minstrel song. In Padstow around Christmas there are what are known as ‘Darkie’ days when locals dress in fancy clothes, play what ever instruments or percussion they can and sing songs like this. They visit homes and pubs in the town to entertain collect money for charity.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson



























































Tavistock Goosey Fair

Twas just a month come Friday next, Bill Chamberdown and me,
Us drove across old Dart-i-moor the Goosey Fair to see.
Us made ourselves quite viddy, us greased and combed our hair,
Then off us goes in our Sunday clothes behind Bill's old grey mare.
Us smelled the sage and onion all the way from Whitchurch Down,
And didn't us 'ave a blow out when us put up in the town.
And there us met Ned Hannoford, Jan Steer and Nicky Square.
It seemed to me all Devon must 'tis Tavistock Goosey Fair.


(Chorus) It's hello and where be a-going,
And what a-be doing for there.
Heave down your prong and slap it along,
'Tis Tavistock Goosey Fair.


Us went to seed the 'osses and the 'effers and the yaws.
Us went on all them roundabouts and into all the shows,

And then it started raining and blowing in our face,
So off us goes down to the Rose to 'ave a dish of tay.
And then us had a zing zong and the folks came dropping in,
And all the ones that knowed us, came around and had some gin,

With one thing and another, us didn't seem to care,
Whether us was to Bellever Tor or Tavistock Goosey Fair.


'Twas raining streams and dark as pitch when us started off that night,
And when us got to Merrivale Bridge, our mare her took a fright,
Says I to Bill, "Be careful, or you'll 'ave us in the drains,"
Says Bill to I, "By gad say he," says 'e, "Why 'aven't you got the reins?"

Just then the mare went up against a whacking gurt big stone,
'Er kicked the trap to flibbits and 'er trotted off alone.
When us come to us reckoned, it was no good sitting there,

So us had trudge home thirteen mile from Tavistock Goosey Fair.


        The fair at Tavistock in Devon has been held on the second Wednesday in October since 1105. The song was composed by C. J. Tryhall and it has been suggested that it was written for a play in Plymouth. Although it is such a well known song there few field recordings of it. Bob learned the song from his grandfather.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson




































































The Seeds of Love


I sowed the seeds of love,

And I sowed them in the Spring,

I gathered them up in the morning so clear,

While the small birds did sweetly sing,


I locked my garden gate,

And I vowed I would keep the key,

'Till some young man stole my heart away,

When he came a courting me,


My garden was planted well,

With flowers everywhere,

But did not have the liberty of choosing for myself,

Of the flowers that I love so dear,

Of the flowers that I love so dear.


Now the violet I did not like,

Because it did bloom too soon,

The lilly and the pink, I never really loved,

So I vowed I would wait 'til June,

So I vowed I would wait 'til June.


For in June there grows a red rose bud,

And the rose is a flower for me,

But often I have reached for that red rose bud,

And gained but the willow tree,

But I've plucked but the willow tree.


For the withy it will twist,

And the withy it will twine,

And so did that false and deluding young man,

Who stole this heart of mine,

Who once stole this heart of mine.


So come all you fair young maids,

And warning take from me,

The grass that you have often times tramped under foot,

May rise again for thee,

It may rise up again for thee.


And come all you false young men,

Do not leave me here to complain,

The grass that you have often times tramped under foot,

Give it time it may rise again,

Give it time it may rise again.


        This was the first song that Cecil Sharp noted down in 1903 from John England of Hambridge, Somerset and he subsequently collected 31 versions of the song. It is also known as Garners Gay and there are 228 versions on the Roud Folk Song Database. Roy Palmer writes in ‘English Country Songs’ (1979) “The earliest printed version I have seen is an eighteenth century slip song, The Red Rose Bud, though the song may date back to the previous century. There is a Lancashire tradition, almost certainly unfounded, that it was written by a Mrs Fleetwood Habergham. This song was popular all around Britain. Other recordings can be heard on EFDSSCD02 ‘A Century of Song’ sung by Billy Bartel of Bedfordshire and VTD148CD ‘A Shropshire Lad’ sung by Fred Jordan. George first learned the song at school.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson























































Pass Around the Grog


Pass around the grog, me boys and never mind the score,

Drink the good old liquor down before we call for more.


(Chorus) For to see who will not merry merry be.

Shall never taste of joy,

See, See, the Cape's in view,

And forward my brave boy.


Hear's a health unto our majesty, and long may she reign,

Queen of all the seven seas and the pride of the Spanish main.


There's one more thing I'll ask of you, before you call for more,

Give to me the girl I love and the key to the cellar door.


        Often called the Padstow Drinking Song it seems to be unique to this part of Cornwall, although George B.Gardiner did note down a version entitled Here’s a Health to Queen Victoria. It was a favourite song in the long closed Caledonian pub which used to be on the harbour side in Padstow, and it was there that Tommy and Charlie learnt it.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson
















































































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