A song from the repertoire of Gus Elen (1862-1940), the Coster Comedian. I think I first came across the song in the early 1980s at the Heritage folk club in Oxford, sung by my friend Dick Wolff (who, as I recall, also used to sing ‘If it Wasn’t for the Houses in Between’, another of Elen’s hits – another one in fact written by the prolific George Le Brunn – and one which I’ve often thought of learning). I found the words in a book of Music Hall songs in my local library back home, and have been singing it ever since.
Elen effectively retired in 1914 to concentrate on his passion, fishing. But he was coaxed out of retirement at the age of 70 to be recorded by British Pathe in 1932. Who have now put their entire archive up on YouTube, meaning that we can watch one of the big names of the golden age of Music Hall performing one of his hits. Isn’t the Internet wonderful?
It’s A Great Big Shame