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Singers Club questions

GUEST,Gemma 08 Apr 15 - 05:40 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 15 - 06:03 AM
vectis 09 Apr 15 - 12:28 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Apr 15 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 09 Apr 15 - 05:09 AM
GUEST,Gemma 10 May 15 - 04:00 AM
Jim Carroll 10 May 15 - 04:19 AM
GUEST 10 May 15 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 10 May 15 - 06:57 AM
Jim Carroll 10 May 15 - 08:34 AM
Sandra in Sydney 10 May 15 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,Don Day 11 May 15 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 12 May 15 - 07:13 AM
Jim Carroll 12 May 15 - 08:40 AM
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Subject: Singers Club questions
From: GUEST,Gemma
Date: 08 Apr 15 - 05:40 AM

A couple of questions about the Singers Club, which I hope someone can answer.

1) Does anyone know which venue this photo was taken at? And what dates it was used from.

2) This photo (and several others, which seem to be in the same room) is described as "Enterprise public house". Is this correct, or was it actually taken at the Princess Louise?


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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Apr 15 - 06:03 AM

First one was probably The Bull and Mouth, High Holborn, sometime in the early 70s.
The second one was certainly not in the same room as the first- Neil and Callum wouldn't have been a twinkle in the eye of anybody when that was taken.
Will check with our own photos later to see if we can't compare them.
Jim Carroll

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: vectis
Date: 09 Apr 15 - 12:28 AM

Those are from before I met them in 1972 or so if that is any help.

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Apr 15 - 03:01 AM

Pretty certain that the first photograph was taken at The Bull and Mouth.
The presence of Neil and Callum was unusual, so it was possibly on the evening that was filmed for the television programme, 'The Other Music'.
Jim Carroll

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 09 Apr 15 - 05:09 AM

The second photograph which includes Seamus Ennis and Fitzroy Coleman is definitely from the Ballads and Blues Club c.1956 - 1959 which was held at time at the Princes Louise Pub in Holborn.
I have a couple of shots taken in the same room around the same time which include Peggy, Guy Carawan and Dean Gitter. It was here that I first saw Seamus, Fitz, Ewan and Peggy and many others.

The Singers Club was a club formed a few years later, 1961 by Ewan and Peggy.
When they decided to have their own club run on their ideas of how a folk club should be run.


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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: GUEST,Gemma
Date: 10 May 15 - 04:00 AM

I think The Other Music suggestion makes sense. Was the Bull & Mouth used as a venue more than once (early and then late '80's)? Does anyone know when Bull & Mouth was first used and what date it finished?
Thanks, G.

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 May 15 - 04:19 AM

Got the dates somewhere - Pat and I found the venue after we had been turfed out of the Princess Louise (over the road) to make room for a lunchtime restaurant.
The club then moved to the dreadful Cora Hotel, near Euston, stayed for a short time, then walked out in protest when the management booked the hotel for a week-end convention to Mme Le Pen and her French fascists (pretty sure that was the order of the moves).
It was a tradition of the club for Ewan to write a verse commemorating each time the club moved - 'The Song of the Travels' - it's in 'The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook'.
Jim Carroll

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
Date: 10 May 15 - 06:20 AM

First piccie      Clicky 1

Further p[iccies Clicky 2

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 10 May 15 - 06:57 AM

Surely that would have been Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded Front National, rather than Mme Marine Le Pen, who took over the presidency fairly recently (and fell out with her dear old dad because he couldn't keep his mouth shut).

Whatever, I hope the place was properly fumigated after they left.

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 May 15 - 08:34 AM

No Fed - she was deputising for pappa on this occasion
Jim Carroll

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 10 May 15 - 06:57 PM


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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: GUEST,Don Day
Date: 11 May 15 - 11:24 AM

I only once went to the Singers Club after an invitation from Ewan and that was early in the seventies. Itwas the Co-op building I believe, which took a hell of a lot of finding to a Geordie I remember. We were returning from a wedding in East Grinstead and My Wife Viv was mistaken for Sandra's sister due to the elaborate wedding hair style and we were both welcomed although Ewan and Peggy ( and Sandra and John) were not there but I was invited to sing and went down well. Frankie was there and she kindly gave us a bed for the night. Thanks again.
This was one of the nights I particularly remember. Anyone else remember this night? A tall, thin, handsome bloke with a black tidy beard and a georgeous bird with a Sandra Kerr's sister's hair do? (That was then of course.) The Outlandish Knight was one of the songs I sang.

Happy days.


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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 12 May 15 - 07:13 AM

Jim, I'm still puzzled. Front National wasn't founded until 1972, by which time The Singers' Club had found a home in the Union Tavern. So the said convention has to have been earlier that.

It could have been some earlier incarnation of Front National of course, since Le Pen was involved with nazi politics and concomitant thuggery long before he tried to make a bid for "respectability" in the form of FN.

To complicate matters, Marine Le Pen wasn't born until 1968 so, if I've got the chronology roughly about right, she would have been no older than two at the time.

That thought of course would set any fascist claiming the incident as proof of 'the master race'. But I'm wondering whether it might have been some other female member of the infamous Le Pen clan?

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Subject: RE: Singers Club questions
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 15 - 08:40 AM

"So the said convention has to have been earlier that."
As far as I remember Fred, there were moves afoot so set up a European Fascist Youth Movement.
Looking at the song, the move from the 'Bull was nack to the Union Tavern (my mistake) and then to the Cora - the rest is history)
Thanks for the correction.

(1988 version)

From 1959 onward, Ewan and I formed part of the residents' group of the Singers' Club (see biography). The club had two recurring rituals: (1) the weekly end-of-evening cry of 'Tak' your glassses wi' ye!' (Take your glasses back to the bar before you go), the cry of the Scot Bruce Dunnet, our most faithful organiser; and (2) ÒThe Ballad of the Travels', which was only sung when we moved to a new venue. The Singers' Club started out as the Ballads and Blues Club in 1953 in the Princess Louise pub in High Holborn. When the Princess was turned into a wine-bar, the ÒBallad' began. We seemed to spend most of the next three decades looking for a pub to sing in and adding verses to the song. We were dogged by the the fact that very few of our members (bar a few legendary characters) were heavy drinkers. Now, publicans want to rent their spare rooms to folks who will drink. Again and again (often because the high attendance and good entertainment had given the club a high media profile) the telltale warnings appeared. The landlord would begin to refurbish his premises: new wallpaper, new furniture, often a new name for the pub and always (as far as we were concerned) followed by new tenants to rent the room for a higher price. Then singers, organisers and members would join in the hunt for new premises. The first night in a new venue was always exciting. All the regular clientele and those from the past years would assemble to hear the latest addition to ÒThe Ballad of the Travels'. The verses were always in Scots because ÒBawbee Allen' was in that language. The last verse was always with us from the very birth of the song. The club finally closed down in January 1992.
"Anyone else remember this night?"
Can't work out the venue Don - which co-op building? - would be fascineted to find out.
" and a georgeous bird with a Sandra Kerr's sister's hair do?"
Se doesn't have a sister, by any chance - just a thought!!!
Your experience echoes the welcome I first got.
My first experience at the Club was The Pindar of Wakefield in the early 60s, and may second was shortly after at A boys Club, just off Red Lion Square, near Holborn
It was 'dry' and there was a permanent like of people (much like a line of ants) moving bck and forth between the club and the (rather superb) Victorian pub (Lamb and Flag) opposite.
Jim Carroll
Ballad of the Travels
tune: Scots traditional ('Bawbee Allan')
new words and trad arr: Ewan MacColl (and sometimes Peggy Seeger)
© 1994 Ewan MacColl, Ltd.

(glossary is at the end of the text)

King Arthur's knichts they socht the grail,                        
And whiles they'd meet their nemesis;                        
But we have had oor problems tae                                
In the search for decent premises.

There was Peggy, Fitzroy, Bert and me
And piper Seumus Ennis;
When he was sober he was great,
But Christ, he liked his Guinness!

The Princess Louise was oor first hame
And a' oor needs it suited;
But the landlord moaned, 'You lower the tone.'
So oot o't we were booted.                                        

We moved abode to Tottenham Court Road
Hard by the auld Dominion;
But the landlord's son, said, 'Dad, they're bums,'
'Beatniks.' was his opinion.

From Paddington Green to Bloomsbury
From the Plough to Covent Garden,
Lamb's Conduit Street tae Soho Square
We bore oor heavy burden.

The Pindar it became oor hame
For twa lang years we kept it;
Till the landlord there gave us the air
And then, by Christ, we left it.

Week aifter week, ye followed us
And brocht your lasses wi' ye;                                
And rallied tae the clarion ca'
Of 'Tak' your glasses wi' ye!'                                

Oor next stop was at Warren Street
At the Prince o' Wales' Feathers,
Whaur wide-boys went and city gents                                
And suchlike folk foregaithers.

The place it was owre sma' for us,                                
More traivels were afore us;
There wasnae room tae swing a cat
Or get a decent chorus.

So tae a Watney's pub we gaed                        
Near Berwick Street located;
A' wee red lights and chandeliers.
And noise! Christ, we were fated.

The bloke that kept the place wi' us
Soon broke off good relations;
He said oor clientele was rough
And spoiled the decorations.

So like Ulysses we gaed
To see what fate would bring us;
It brought us tae New Merlin's Cave
The next hame o' the Singers'.

We settled doon in that big room
But alas, we were nae able
To be heard abune the juke-box tunes                                
And the clatter o' pin-tables.

And whit was worse, the beer was bad,
For the maist part quite undrinkable.
To stay there and be deafened (al -
so poisoned) was unthinkable.

The shabbiest room in London toon
Next became oor haven,
Ten years o' Saturdays we spent
In that auld Union Taivern.

We sweated there and gasped for air
Mair times that I remember.
Folks used to queue for drinks in March
And get served in September.

At times auld Dennis staggered doon
Just wearin' his wee doin's;                                        
At ither times he lay supine,
And slept while folk were queuin'.

For ten lang years we pleaded for
Some form o' ventilation,
Folks couldnae breathe and often needed
Artificial respiration.

At last we couldnae stand it mair
Frae Dennis then we pairted;
And we went back tae the auld Louise
The place frae which we started.

Twa weeks were scarcely past and gane
When builders and shopfitters
Cam' in and occupied the place
We didnae ken whit hit us.                                        

Week aifter week the wark went on,
The room got wee'er and wee'er,                                
Till at the end you scarce could bend
Your arm to drink your beer.

So once again we were cast oot,
Rejected and forlorn,
Condemned to face cauld winter's blast.
The orphans o' the storm.

We traivelled east, we traivelled west,
To find a new location,
And found a howff, the Bull and Mouth,                         
No far frae Holborn Station.

The landlord raised and raised the rent
Beyond oor expectation.
He turned us oot, gave us the boot,
The victims o' inflation.

The wheel o' fortune gaed full turn;
At last in desperation
We gaed back to oor haven, the Union Taivern
No far from Kings Cross Station.

Ae nicht a ghost, that's rarely seen,                                
As rare as Halley's Comet,
Cam' in and sat doon at the back.
'By Christ!' says I, 'that's Dunnet.'

'You're richt,' he said. 'My name is Bruce,                        
Why should I no' admit it?'
He said, 'This place is a damned disgrace,
I think it's time ye flitted.'

He said, 'I'll swear by my grey heair
And Rabbie Burns's bonnet,
I'll find a room unlike this tomb,
Or my name is no' Bruce Dunnet!'

He found a room fit for tycoons
In a howff they ca'd the Cora;
We thought we'd stay until doomsday
Or at least till ninety-four-a.

There was mirrors braw and fancy drapes                        
And bonny chandelier-us.
And though some did groan aboot microphones
At least ye a' could hear us.

But O my friends, ye let us doon!
Ye werenae good at boozin';
The bar receipts when doon and doon
And the Cora sent us cruisin'.

Then, due to superhuman toil
By Ian, Bruce and Tony,
The Singers' Club and the Marquis pub
Were entering matrimony.

Every week a new landlord,
And chairs kept disappearing;
And the marriage wi' the Marquis
Soon upon the rocks was steerin'.

Landlords came and stayed a week
Then departed - banished.
Receptacles for beer were scarce
And more and more chairs vanished.

Ae week the room had vanished tae
And we were maist emphatic,
Protesting when we had to move
Upstairs intae the attic.

St. Paul's trip tae Damascus toon
Provoked a' kinds o' heresies;
But Trevor Smith gaed just as far
Lookin' for new premisies.

Haunting pubs and boozing kens                                
Became his sole activity;
Orpheus was nae mair resolved
When searching for Euridice.

He lookit east, he lookit west,
While drinking quarts o' beer-O,
And then Tom Paley nipped in smart
And found the Belvedere-O.

It was a dump, an awfu' dump,
That dark and dreary boozer,
We'd reached rock-bottom in that hole
But beggars can't be choosers.

The walls were diarrhoetic brown,
The ceilings were the same, O;
The floor was dirty spinach soup
But at least we'd found a hame-O.

The second week that we were there
A wall it went a-missin';
We'd have had mair comfort doon the road
In a cell in Holloway Prison.

So Trevor's on the road again,
Frae Battersea to Highbury,
And a room he found deep underground
Beneath the Finsbury Library.

This place was camouflaged, weel-hid
Frae the prying eyes of strangers;
And the road to that wee iron door
Was sair beset wi' dangers.                                        

Many a ballad buff was lost -                                        
For weeks on end they wandered,
Roond and roond that library
Till strength and youth were squandered.

When Theseus trod the labyrinth
He didnae dae sae badly;
But folks couldnae find the Singers' Club
They hadnae Ariadne.

London Toon is fu' o' rooms
Some guid and some richt stinkers;
But if we want to keep this place
We need some heavy drinkers.

So for god's sake, keep your glasses filled
Spend a' that's in your purses;
Let's settle doon and keep this room
And write nae mair daft verses.        



abune        above
ae        one
booted        kicked
braw        brave, wonderful
brocht        brought
buff        expert, connoisseur
daft        silly
didnae ken        didn't know
doin's        see GLOSSARY
howff        place, home
kens        hangouts
knichts        knights
oor        our
oot        out
owre        over, too
richt        right
sair        sore
socht        sought
tae        too
tak'        take
wee'er        smaller
whilesl        sometimes
wide-boys        petty criminals

The Ballad of the Travels, No. 2, with glossary at the end

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