FOLK SESSION – Howard Arms - Brampton

As the holiday season comes to an end, the theme was, appropriately enough, ‘Work’, when we met in the Howard Arms on 17th September.  A warm welcome to Hazel, joining us for the first time; to Pat and Ron visiting us from Middlesbrough; and to Richard and Sally Hardaker from Penrith.

The theme naturally lent itself to ‘trades’.  Mill work was well-represented in Poverty Knock (Gerda); Shift and spin (Hazel) and Richard’s history of his great-uncle, The Ballad of John Willie Still.  Phil took us further back to the days of the hand-loom with Music of the loom.  Mining was covered in Working Man (Christine); Coal Town Road (Hazel) and Roll on the day, about a miner dying of ‘the dust’ (Steve).  As this is folk music we’re talking about, it’s not surprising we had songs about Grandpa was a carpenter (Sam); Three Jolly Fishermen (Richard and Sally Hardaker); a tune about Navvy on the line (Sally Hardaker on flute) and songs about migrant workers (Harvest Gypsies – Anne, and Rambling Boy – Pat and Ron).  

More unexpected were Mary’s Banker’s Ballad (‘the only legal robber’); Angus’s Barrett’s Privateers (the legal robbers of the 18th Century, coincidentally!); the removal men in Right, said Fred (Alan); the sewer man (I’m glad I’m working down below - Phil).  Generations of Change (Katy) followed the changing ways of earning a living, from ploughing to fishing to oil worker, in one man’s lifetime.

A number of items were about ‘work’ in the abstract: Sally Jones identified the paradox of our feelings on the subject in I just can’t wait, where the singer complains about his job for verse after verse, then dreads retirement.  Ruth read the famous passage from Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, beginning ‘I like work. It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours…’.  Richard pinpointed the necessity of work, however uncongenial, in The Dalesman’s Litany and Sam traced a tragic story of unemployment, prostitution and suicide in Tecumseh Valley.  Christine, on the other hand, identified the satisfaction of work undertaken as a hobby in The Shed in the Garden.  

And finally… thank you to Pat and Ron for playing us out with Keep on the sunny side of life.  

We next meet on 15th October in the Howard Arms, Brampton, at 8pm (please continue to note new start time).  The theme will be ‘numbers’.  ALL WELCOME!

September Review