From the album The English Lament

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English Folk-Heritage

This traditional Lancashire song was collected from an old weaver called Becket Whitehead in a village called Delph, which is in the Lancashire Pennines about 10 miles from where I was born.
Becket was a broadsheet singer and local historian who my grandfather knew. Delph is next door to another lovely village called Denshaw, and across the vale from another called Diggle. Not a million miles from another village, Dobcross.
This is a song about begging which was commonplace in England from about 1650 onwards. Physically and mentally damaged English soldiers returning from the European Wars became inmates of lunatic asylums such as Bethlehem Hospital, known as ‘Bedlam’ and when discharged were given a royal dispensation that allowed them to beg legally. Not an uplifting way to exist, and I suspect some invalided British soldiers today would say not much has changed.


English Folk-Heritage

Of all the trades in England The beggin’ is the best
For when a beggar’s tired He can set him down to rest

And a-beggin’ I will go, a-beggin’ I will go
A-beggin’ I will go, yes a-beggin’ I will go

Me britches they are nobbut holes, but me heart is free of care
As long as I’ve a belly full, me arse (backside) it can go bare

I’ve a pocket for me oatmeal, and another for me salt
A little pair of crutches, tha should see how I can halt

There’s a bed for me where e’er I lie, and I don’t pay no rent
I’ve got no noisy looms to mind, and I am reet content

I rest when I am tired; I heed no master’s bell
A man would be daft to be a king, when us beggars live so well

I’ve a black patch on my fusty coat, and another on my ee
But when it comes to tuppeny ale, I’ll see as well as thee

I’ve bin deef at Dunkinfield, and I’ve bin blint at Shaw
And many a reet and willin’ lass, I’ve bedded in the straw

So of all the trades in England the beggin’ is the best
For when a beggar’s tired He can set him down to rest

© PhilDrane Music 2016