Posts tagged ‘Fred Whiting’

October 26, 2014

Week 166 – Poison Beer

Fred Whiting. Photo by John Howson.

Fred Whiting. Photo by John Howson.

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.






Poison Beer

October 17, 2014

Week 165 – Who owns the game?

I first met Mike Yates in April 1984 in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. We both happened to be visiting the library, and were introduced by Malcolm Taylor the Librarian, who knew that I had “discovered” a traditional singer, Charlie Bridger. A week or two later, on St George’s Day, Mike came down to Kent to record Charlie at his home in Stone-in-Oxney. Over lunch at the Ferry Inn, Mike was enthusing about the recordings he had been making in Suffolk, and in particular about this song, which would be the title track of ‘Who owns the game?’, an LP released later in 1984 on Mike’s Home-Made Music label.

This song certainly has a home-made feel to it. Mike recorded it from Fred ‘Pip’ Whiting, of Kenton in Suffolk – actually better known as a fiddle-player than a singer – and it has so far only ever been collected from Fred. Fred learned most of his songs in local pubs; this one he picked up in Burstall Half Moon.

The song raises a perfectly reasonable question. It also charts the lessening severity over times of the punishment meted out to those found guilty of poaching: grandfather – transported; father – two or three months’ oakum picking; singer – fined.

You can hear a 1980 recording of the song made by Carole Pegg in The Victoria, Earl Soham on the British Library website – but only, I’m afraid, if you are affiliated with a UK Further or Higher Education establishment. [Edit 18/10/2014] The LP ‘Who owns the game?’ has unfortunately never seen any kind of digital release, as far as I’m aware. A shame, as it has a lot of good performances of both songs and tunes. The LP Who owns the game? has been released on CD by Veteran, and is well worth hearing both for the songs and the tunes. There will be more songs learned from the record making an appearance in future weeks on this blog.

Who owns the game?