Saturday, 9 May 2015

A UKIP EVENSONG. Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings perform "Hard Times of Old England" at Cec...

This is a protest song from the Napoleonic wars, when soldiers came home crippled, destitute and neglected and trade and employment, for most,  were depressed.  
The song has been kept alive by seven generations of the Copper family of Rottingdean and the version by the sixth or maybe fifth generation is my favourite, it can be found on their Topic album, Come, Write Me Down and on youtube.  The Coppers' family songbooks provided much of the material for the early days of the so-called British Folk Boom - Spencer the Rover, Banks of the Sweet Primroses, Lovely Nancy,  The Lark in the Morning, Babes in the Wood, The Honest Labourer, songs recorded by Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Nic Jones, The Strawbs, John Martyn and recently by the unspeakable, verminous Billy Bragg, among others.

Not for them, however, the gaudy life of showbusiness, up until recently they were all Suffolk agricultural workers and the current crop, I believe, work locally, a carpenter, a builder, a teacher,  I think, coming together to sing these old, family songs, with nothing but a tuning fork and a finger in the ear to help them.  
Scotland, for all its incessant gobbing about culture, has nothing to rival the Copper Family.

I had never heard this version or these performers until this evening, the song is abridged - the full lyric is below  - and the recording is poor; I find it charming, though, that a new generation keeps this stuff alive.

The Copper Family, however, for those who have the time, really are a national treasure.

Come all brother tradesmen that travel alone, 
O, pray come and tell me where the trade is all gone, 
Long time I have travelled and cannot find none, 
And it's O, the hard times of old England, 
In old England very hard times. 

Provisions you buy at the shop it is true, 
But if you've no money there's none there for you. 
So what's a poor man and his family to do? 
And it's O, the hard times of old England, 
In old England very hard times. 

 If you go to a shop and you ask for a job
 They will answer you there with a shake and a nod. 
That's enough to make a poor man to turn out and rob, 
And it's O, the hard times of old England, 
In old England very hard times. 

You will see the poor tradesmen a-walking the street
From morning till night for employment to seek. 
And scarcely they have any shoes to their feet,
And it's O, the hard times of old England, 
In old England very hard times. 

Our soldiers and sailors have just come from war, 
Been fighting for their King and their country sure, 
Come home to be starved better have stayed where they were, 
And it's O, the hard times of old England, 
In old England very hard times. 

 So now to conclude and to finish my song 
Let us hope that these hard times they will not last long. 
And I may soon have occasion to alter my song, 
And sing O, the good times of old England, 
In old England very good times.


Caratacus said...

Thanks for that, Mr.I.

I heard the song performed by Maddie Prior years ago and thought that was rather good, but these chaps lend it an air of impressive authenticity.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, Steeleye Span had a bit of a hit with it, I quite like Maddy, especially with the Carnival Band but the Steeleye Span version of this bittersweet complaint was irrepressibly jaunty and incongruous, just like a remake of All Around My Hat, in fact. Glad you liked this, king caratacus.

SG said...

Mr I, I think you may be the exception that proves Dr Johnson's rule...

call me ishmael said...

Which rule is that, mr sg, please?

SG said...

The one about patriotism Mr I.

call me ishmael said...

Oh, I see what you mean, mr sg and yes, although I think we need fewer borders, not more, I love the idea of England, who wouldn't, and I do feel for those driven to Poundland; I think, however, that as with the song, their complaint would be the more tellingly expressed in sorrow than in anger.

Mike said...

Timely piece: in 5 weeks I depart for Spain to retrace Wellesley's progress across the Iberian peninsula in the great battles against Napoleon. The troops may have been treated like shit, but they created history.

The bad news is I have to visit England for 2 weeks to visit my mother in law. Divorce is still an option.

Bungalow Bill said...

Good stuff and well timed. I'll look up the other people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Mr I.
On a note of pedantry the Copper family hail from Sussex not Suffolk (like wot i do).
As you dislike Billy Bragg you'll hate this picture on their website

call me ishmael said...

I think I've seen the photo, mr anonymous, he's like Beckham, Bragg, manages to get snapped with everybody. I expect there's one of him with Mandela, somewhere. I looked at his Imaginary Village project, doing a revamped, I think they call it, version of Hard Times, as though it needed refiltering through his own, millionaire, sophisticated, showbiz political consciousness, the cunt.

call me ishmael said...

You must look out for Sean Bean, mr mike, I believe he played a big part in those campaigns, he and his trusty Oirish sergeant-major and his lesser band of musical, sharpshooting brothers, chosen men, all fated to die at Boney's hand.

No, it sounds great, I am very envious, maybe you will keep us informed, by cyber-despatch rider.

SG said...

Now that's a proper trip Mr Mike. Like Mr I, I look forward to despatches from the campaign. I rather like Sharpe's Rifles - Bean & Co make for good company compared with most of the shit we're served up these days. Interestingly, Paul McGann (the Monocled Mutineer who was mentioned back up the road somewhere recently) was originally cast as Sharpe but broke his leg giving Bean the opportunity (the latter has done rather well for himself out of that wee opportunity!).

Mike said...

Thanks for the reminders Mr I and Mr SG. I've just ordered the boxed set of Sharpe's Rifles - hokum, I know, but I quite liked it the first time round.

My wife has already put me on notice that this will be a cyber-free trip, but I have a small laptop I plan to hide in my suitcase. Its bringing out my inner Colditz.

call me ishmael said...

It is hokum but it was the first series, to my knowledge, to be set in the Napoleonic Wars and as these things go was fairly even handed. It also prodded into existence the Hornblower series, which, considering that CS Forrester inspired Bernard Cornwell, should have been better but wasn't.

I didn't know that about Paul McCann, shame, he is a considerably better playactor than Bean; still, that's LuvvieWorld.

A man, mr mike, should not need to remind his wife that his duty to his regiment and his comrades must always come first, Dammit to blazes, man, the campaign is no place for women, well, a chap's doxy, following at a safe distance, to help with his laundry, so to speak, eh, what, well that's a bird of a different feather, eh, all men of the world, here, in the Queen's Own Ishmaelian Rifles. But the little woman, she should be at home, with the children andher embroidery, donchaknow, or in your case, her kangaroos, understand they're not unlike venison, eh, the old 'roos. See to it, anyway, keep her at home, there's a good chap, carry on.

Mike said...

I'll Do my duty, Captain Ishmael, so I will.

yardarm said...

Ruminating in my slow way on comments you made back down the road about Clause Four, about us not having the power to hold the threat of nationalisation over the spivs ?

That changed in `08, didn`t it ? The Great Tits up, banksters running out of non existent money, prospect of cash machines running dry: they got themselves nationalised quick enough then, didn`t they ? And those that didn`t got our dosh to underwrite them.

And we all know who`s forking out for the resultant deficit. But that wasn`t the lovely wealth creators was it ? No, it was all those shirkers on dialysis machines. And Mervyn Fuckwit at the Bank printed off £375 billion to float the fuckers again ? And we`re still paying for the drones at RBS.

I always remember being told, can`t print money Mr Yardarm, causes inflation, like 1975, like Weimar. Only thing is we`ve now got fucking deflation. So that was a load of old bollocks wasn`t it ? Come on, TopHatters, where`s my bailout ?

But state intervention only works for the, er, wealth creators, obviously, not the Joe Soaps. Must be an another shibboleth or pile of shit.

call me ishmael said...

You are not alone in your summary, mr yardarm, of the wilderness of mirrors in which we live, a place where, obviously, good is bad and bad is good and yours is a comment that they try ever harder to delete from the public discourse, with much but not entire success, most people arguing, instead, about non-existent differences between career politicians when they should be hanging them up from lasmp posts, any and preferably all of them. Funny how, once in a tightly-controlled TeeVee studio, most audiences crack-on like they, themnselves, achingly polite and reasonable, were honorasry members of the Dimbleby family; instead of howling the bastards down, a sthey should, audiences join in the charade, even applauding, when instructed, at the end, like chimps.

Nevertheless, outside the managed discussions, One would expect there to be riots, about the spivs being re-elected, about five million votes being worthless but all it takes, I suppose, to keep people eating shit is for LuckyDave to promise concessiions and reviews and enquiries. While Michael Spit gets hanging back on the statute book, restores Democracy's rightful grip on the governed.

Always good to read your rage, keeps me on the straight and narrow path of UpAgainsTheWallMotherfuckerism.

blackholesunset said...

I can't remember the source but I did read, a while ago, of a proposal whereby the State should borrow nothing and, instead, simply print whatever was needed to cover expenditure.

Given there is no reasonable possibility of the national debt even being halved, let alone substantially repaid, the current system is arguably identical in all but terminology, interest rate risk and the fact that interest must be paid, which is presumably the point.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, it's like God, money, a matter of belief in the unbelievable. Maybe Mr Dawkins'll write The Money Myth, except that he's a fervent believer, himself.

DtP said...

I voted Ukip, my friend (the best campaigner i've ever met) was the Chair of the local Ukip and stood himself as Council. Got beat.

Bollox to dispossed or woe is me - there are shed loads of service jobs for kids to get involved in and I like cheap immigrant prices. Quids in.

At some point a baseline is formed. Usually a 100 for the thickos but a baseline nonetheless. Stop. What is a political philosophy of stop? I've spent all my adult life fighting socialists and now what? Stop. Just stop.

Chatting with Huddersfied Casuals and stop. Bring it through the unions. Stop. Let the party heal itself.

Seriously couldn't give a fuck about Ukip - the joke was on paper already. There is principle somewhere, I hope. Mum's chum used to be a teacher 'the profession is open to all' - sounds about right.

Reading the Guardian comments is upsetting - there are quite a lot of people who need to know how getting their political head caved in feels and it's a little bit upsetting. These are the people who when, on knife edge polemical votes failed to turn up at their local council for no reason whatsoever, feel like they could run the gaff. Total boring pricks with a grievance and an alcohol habit that are gonna chnge their pants. AAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!

Am I handingout fucking instruction books? Yes. Yes I fucking am because my boss is the sister of a very successful sport coach and all she ever knows is coaching and she's been giving me sporting metaphors for 7 months now but in nowhere in sport do you win and then fucking change the God DAMNED FUCKING GAME. MY BOSS IS A FUCKING IDIOT but we just have to maintain, yer know, some kind of WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ON ABOUT restrainst and it'll go away. Rugby doesn't do summer, or normality but...

Gonna spend the next 100 days hitting Tories dude. They are stoopid. As always......

call me ishmael said...

You must be older than I thought, mr dick; don't know what it is you've been figthing but there haven't been any socialists in power in my lifetime. Seems to me that anything with which the Tophatters disagree is just one step away from Stalin or Mao, they hated the very idea of a national health service, of council housing, school meals, everythuing edcent and civilised, ugh, filthy socialism, next step the Gulag.

They are stupid, thinking their writ will run in the age of the electronic nomad, but it will take tribesmen riotuing in the Commons, and sensible people rioting in the streets.

mongoose said...

It's funny stuff is money. We used to say about clients that the only real number in the accounts was the money in the bank. Oops.

I think the Tories should be persuaded to adopt some Steeleye Span anthems. Then all we'd need would be to score some acid.

DtP said...

Could just pop acid in the water supply and kill 2 whatevers with 1 other thing.

There was one of those docu-biographies on the PBC about Wellington t'other day and other than calling him a cunt, no really, they did shoehorn in the 'nothing can be half so melancholy (!) as a battle lost than a battle won' quote thing and, frankly, the boy was a bit right.

I've been speculating on that proportional representation stuff - if it could be linked to constituencies and allow the voters to identify candidates, well, it'd have advantages. Trouble is, not sure it can be done like that. Arse.

(crikey - captcha's getting tougher!_

call me ishmael said...

That'd be someting like All Around My Top Hat, then, mr mongoose, I will wear the green money.