Roger, in today’s traditional song, has poor dress sense which doesn’t help his attempts at courting. I doubt if having a suit knitted for him would have helped either.
Some years ago in our town we woke up one morning to find knitting and crochet on statues, post boxes, trees and railings. It was our introduction to the idea. At one time Yarn storming was done anonymously. We still don’t know who did our burst. But some of the work in the above photos were done with official permission, the bridge and the admirable work of Horncastle Women’s Institute for instance. I thoroughly enjoy these temporary additions to the daily scene and admire the skill, patience and inventiveness of the knitters. Daring too in the case of the undersea ladies. Click on a pic to enjoy them all a bit larger.
In countless ways today’s sailor lads and lasses have the best of living conditions. The new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was welcomed to her new home in Portsmouth last week, to much photographing, filming and cheering from the crowds. Click on the first mosaic pic to see them all larger as you listen to the song.
Our song dates from perhaps the mid 19th century and similar versions have been collected in the USA, where I found the words, as well as England, which provided the tune.
My wife and I went for a long walk earlier this week, past the imposing gates of a large and ancient place. It doesn’t have anything to do with the song! The photos show the route. Click the first of the group and arrow through.
In the 70’s I sang at my first farm harvest home, in the farmhouse kitchen. My agent hadn’t told me what the booking was about so I had no harvest songs to sing, but somehow we managed a convivial evening around the kitchen table. Two Loving Brothers was sung to me by a kind fellow who said it was the only song he knew. Thirty years later when I was writing up my collection of songs I found the following verse on the other side of the notebook page on which I’d written the man’s song. My wife was clever enough to see what the rhyme meant.
There are now many morris sides, not just in England, some following old traditions, others adapting them or inventing new dances. All are fun to watch and most of them are a really joyful lot who delight in rousing the streets from its everyday life. It’s wholesome and it’s free! (Dress optional.)
As for today’s song; well it’s another obscure element of folk culture. Whatever ancient significance it once had is more or less lost now, but some of us enjoy it anyway, just like the dancing.
If I remember rightly James Reeves, commenting on the words of this song with a superb under-statement, wrote that over the centuries various foods have been associated with aphrodisiac powers, but “rhubarb is less well-known in this connection”.
Written by John Mathews, a friend from long ago, about the last ‘Medieval’ fair held in the late 1970s at Barsham, on the Norfolk and Suffolk border. The pleasant traditional tune at the end is called ‘Nantwich Fair’ and I played English concertina with a bit of bodhran and tambourine for good measure!
The top photo is of Saddleworth Rushcart simply because I like the pic so much! The other photo is an evocative one of two musicians at Barsham. I wish I knew their names and where they are now.
I collected the song during my years in the folk clubs and wrote it down in one of my notebooks. Unfortunately, like too many of the songs, I neglected to write down the name of the singer and in this case I don’t even know the place, so for today’s post I’ve added two handsome portraits of ladies whose names I don’t know. (The sublime top picture painted by Giovanni Battista Moroni, c. 1567. The lower picture is, I guess, by the excellent Chris Saper. Click to go to her web site.)
As you can imagine rambling where your fancy took you was not always quite so carefree as our song seems to say, but I like the idea and the words give food for thought. Go to menu 5 and you’ll find more traditional songs from the album Barsham Days.