A Border ballad.
Here’s the hand-written music from my bandbook of three not unknown country dance tunes, played on concertina, guitar, bodhran and saucepan. I hope you think it worth the effort.
The lying soldier spoke truer than he realised.
I really like this gentle traditional song, which James Reeves describes as ‘a comprehensive invitation…’. Furze is another name for gorse. Clare Leighton made the woodcut.
The Dashing Young Fellow From Buckinghamshire is a ridiculous adventure usually published incomplete. I don’t remember where I found this version.
You may like to know: A wager is a bet. Watchmen were officials keeping a night lookout for villains or anything out of order. Newgate was a London prison. Beak is a slang word meaning judge or magistrate. A fortnight is two weeks. (Fourteen nights.)
There were once hundreds of steps or stairs on the Thames now there are few and are mostly in a poor state of repair. As taxi drivers on the roads learn the Knowledge of every road in London so the watermen knew all the stairs and their adjoining streets. They gave access to the river for the watermen to load and unload goods and passengers.
I wrote the tune for tin whistle in about 2011 when I was at the height of my skill on the instrument. Unfortunately I never mastered the art of singing and playing tin whistle at the same time so this remains the only recording.
First printed in John Stokoe’s ‘Songs Of Northern England’ 1893, we used to sing it at school music ‘lessons’ – or the first three verses at any rate!
The superb illustration of street sellers is by Paul Sandby in 1759. The fine painting of him as he sketched street characters from his window is by Francis Cotes.