|Old man of Port Grigor|
(image: Edward Lear, adapted by Goetz Kluge)
Anyway, straight on to the music, Colin as MC kicked off with what he described as a bit of nonsense... The Tailor And The Mouse (Roud 16577).
Derek took the challenge and while I unfortunately haven't come across a recording of his Nonsense Song (Roud 5269), there is quite a lot to say about it. Derek said it was probably collected from someone usually credited as "Alien Stollery". As expected, her name appears to be Aileen Stollery, though I have also seen it spelt as "Aline". She was the daughter of Jack 'Dot' Button. While I can't point you in the direction to hear the Nonsense Song, if you follow this link and search for Aileen Stollery, you can hear her sing three other songs.
The story of this song though goes a little further because looking at the Roud index on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website, there are two listings for 5269, one called The Nonsense Song, and the other H Mi Rinkum. Both have the same first line, ignoring probable transcription errors, as Derek sang ("My thoughts today are far away beneath the deep blue sea"), both were collected by Peter Kennedy in Woodbridge, Suffolk, and both were sung by Herbert Last.
Geoff's sterling attempt at nonsense was a well known song from the 1950s, known in the UK from Max Bygraves' version, Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer, Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea (Al Hoffman, Dick Manning).
Derek noted that he had "missed" singing themed songs at the time of the 2018 Durham Miners' Gala and so, he brought out two songs by Jock Purdon, The Cotia Banner and Farewell To Cotia. Mike commented that in the former, Derek sang of Bunker Hill, whereas mike had previously heard "Byker Hill". Derek was able to confirm that Purdon himself had sung "Bunker Hill". Nevertheless, this led Mike to sing Byker Hill (Roud 3488).
This all led into a spate of mining songs from Mike: It's A Working Man I Am (Rita MacNeil) and Duw It's Hard (Max Boyce). We heard that during the miners' strike of 1984-85, Mike had performed at an even for the Welsh miners. After singing some songs from the North East of England he sang this last song, only to find out later that Max Boyce, booked as the surprise guest for the evening, was in the audience. Max asked Mike where he had got his version from, since he sang it in a half-spoken way. He said that was because he could never keep the tune going after the first verse. Max admitted that this was how he had originally written it before adding the final tune and that it had never been recorded like that.
Derek's final mining song was The Wardley Great White Wall about the events that led to the pit at Wardley near Gateshead closing in 1969 when the coal seam gave out into a chalk one.
Colin finished off the evening with an unusual version of The Wabash Cannonball (William Kindt, related to an earlier song by J. A. Roff); unusual but not unpleasant because Colin had templorarily forgotten the tune, and seemed to hit on something more in the style of The Eagles.
We will of course be meeting this Friday (17 August) but more importantly, I have to pass on the news that our annual Harvest session will take place on Friday 31 August. Please come along in your thousands bringing with you whatever produce you can muster either from your garden or from elsewhere (keep it legal though). The charity we will support this year has yet to be confirmed.
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 5, of whom 5 performed)