Like last week’s song ‘Who Owns the Game?’ this was recorded by Mike Yates and John Howson from the Suffolk singer Fred Whiting, and I learned it from the LP Who Owns the Game? – which, contrary to what I initially wrote last week, is available on CD from Veteran. And once again, Fred Whiting seems to be the only known source for the song.
According to Sing, Say or Pay! Keith Summers’ survey of East Suffolk Country Music (Musical Traditions Article MT027), Fred had the song from Cropther Harvey from Redlingfield:
It’s amazing, you know, what some of those old boys could drink too. I was playing in Rishangles Swan once and there was an old boy called Swaler Parrott and nearly every five minutes he’d bang on the bar and shout “I’ll have another skep”. Five minutes later “I’ll have another skep” (pint), and he must have had 18 pints that night, and do you know he walked home as straight as a crow in a rain storn.
Old Cropther Harvey from Redlingfield – nearly all his songs were about beer-drinking, and that’s where I learnt that song Poison Beer from. My dad used to knock about with him – they were both shepherds and both sang beer songs – “If you want to get rid of yer beer, I’ve got plenty of room down here”.
Beyond that, I know nothing about the song. But presumably it dates from the second half of the nineteenth century, when the Temperance movement was in full swing.