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Lyr Add: Muddley Barracks/Bungay Roger

GUEST,Storyteller 15 Sep 02 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Storyteller 15 Sep 02 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Storyteller 15 Sep 02 - 09:50 AM
GUEST,Storyteller 15 Sep 02 - 09:52 AM
Matthew Edwards 25 Jan 11 - 07:33 PM
Joe Offer 26 Jan 11 - 03:52 AM
doc.tom 26 Jan 11 - 12:09 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Jan 11 - 01:22 PM
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From: GUEST,Storyteller
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:45 AM

I was looking for some information about this song, and was surprised not to find it in the DT database, nor anything other than one passing reference from a Forum search. Under a variety of names it was at one time quite widespread, in England at any rate. Known as "Bungay Roger", "The Yorkshire Blinder", "The St. Mervyn Grinder", it seems to derive from a broadside from the Napoleonic wars. It expresses the bewilderment of a recruit at finding himself subject to military discipline, and contains the heartfelt plea of every raw recruit; "I wish I was at home again."

Anyway I've found out what I could about the song, and I'm posting the information here for future reference (over several messages), but I hope others will be able to add something as well.

(Tune: Sheepskin & Beeswax)

1. Now, when first I came to Turpiton Town,
They called me a funny old dodger,
They axed me over and over again,
If I would go for a soldier.
They axed me o'er and o'er again,
If I would collar a shiner,
And when I asked him what mob he was in,
He told me the Muddley Minor.

CHORUS: With your fol-the-lol-eye-dol, go fol-the-lol day,
Fol-the-lol-liddle, go laddie go wop.

2. Now, they marched me to Muddley Barracks,
By Christ, they were a sight, sir,
They shoved me under a bloody great shed,
The size of a fisherman's lugger.
They stood me under a damn great stick,
To measure my height and size, sir.
Then they cut my hair so close to my head,
I could hardly wink my eye, sir.

3. Now, they marched me out for drills next day,
To do my duty manual.
By Christ, and warn't I buggered about
By Corporal Smith and Emanuel.
It was first "Eyes Left!" then "Eyes Right!"
"Blast it! Hold up your head, sir!"
And I durst not say it's never a word,
Till I stopped in the digger instead, sir.

4. Now, they marched us off from drill that day,
I was hungry as a hound, sir.
But I dursn't touch a piece of grub,
Till old officer had been round, sir.
They served it up in bucket pans,
Yes, everyone had a platter,
Then they served us up a bloody great bone,
And only two potatoes.

5. Now, I wish that I was home again,
A-following the bloody old plough, sir.
Oh I wish that I was home again,
A-milking the bloody old cow, sir.
Oh I wish that I was home again,
Yes, feeding on taters and mutton,
With a rusty old knife and a thumping great bun,
By Christ! and wouldn't I cut 'em!

From the singing of Jumbo Brightwell, of Leiston, Suffolk.

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Subject: Lyr Add: Bungay Roger
From: GUEST,Storyteller
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:47 AM

The lyrics for this are sufficiently different from "Muddley Barracks" to justify a separate entry.


When first I went up to London town,
They called me Bungay Roger.
They axed I o'er and o'er again,
If I would be a soldier,
They axed I o'er and o'er again,
Till I said that I was willing,
"Cor blast!" said I, "I'll have a try."
And that time I never got a shilling.

With a fol a rol a day, fol a rol a day,
Fol a rol a laddie, when I get home.

They took me out on the barrack square,
To do my duty manual.
They buggered I here, they buggered I there,
For doing my duty manual.
They said, "Eyes right! Eyes left!
Just keep your bloody great head up!
And if you dare to answer back,
I'll flog you into the lockup."

They brought me home from parade that day,
As hungry as a hunter,
We couldn't get a goddamn bite,
Till that orderly bloke came around, sir.
And when they dished it up, my boys,
They dished it up on a platter,
To my surprise, in front of my eyes,
There was a bone and a bloody tater.

I wish I was back home again,
A-following of the plough, sir,
I wish I was back home again,
A-milking that old cow, sir.
I wish I was back home again
Around a leg of mutton,
With a rusty old knife and a rusty old fork,
But by Christ! you can keep on a-cuttin'.

From the singing of Charlie Hancy, of Bungay, Suffolk.

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Subject: ADD: The Awkward Recruit
From: GUEST,Storyteller
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:50 AM

This is the text (in stanza form) of the original broadside ballad of the early nineteenth century which seems to be the ancestor of "Muddley Barracks". I can't find any indication of a tune for it. One copy of the ballad in the Bodleian catalogue ends with the "fol de rol" chorus to which "Muddley Barracks" is sung.
The first four stanzas show the new recruit complaining of his fate, before going on to express his patriotic fervour. The sentiments expressed in these later verses have not survived in the modern versions of the song, and no doubt the actual verses sung by soldiers at the time used the more earthy language found in "Muddley Barracks" and "Bungay Roger".


Behold poor Will, just come from drill,
    Not long ago I listed,
I sold my cart to pay my smart,
    But money they resisted.
I don't know what will be my lot,
    But think it mighty odd, sir,
That they should pop a lad like I
    Into the awkward squad, sir.

I wish I was at home again,
    And got my working clothes on,
My greasy hat that easy sat,
    And Sunday's woolen hose on,
But at command I'm forced to stand,
    As stiff as any poker,
In this plight, it's wheel to the right,
    Or my head it would be broke, sir.

I walk'd and run with Corporal Fun,
    Till I wore three pair of shoes out,
And get such knocks, as tho' in the stocks,
    To make me turn my toes out:
I'm sure they can mean me no good,
    To run me out of breath, sir,
And then this thing under my chin,
    It throttles me to death, sir.

Here like a mawkin I must stand,
    With fingers below my breeches,
And dare not even move my hand,
    To scratch my head where it itches.
And the soap and flour too,
    Is plaister'd on my head, sir,
Then for my King and country,
    I'll fight until I'm dead, sir.

If Sergeant White informs me right,
    I cuts a pretty figure,
Then why mayn't I in battle try,
    Sure I can pull a trigger:
If it's my will the French to kill,
    I'll do't with all my heart, sir,
Perhaps a recruit may chance to kill,
    Great General Bonaparte, sir.

If I could kill this great Frenchman,
    My country's befriended,
'T would be a thunderbolt to France,
    And make the war be ended;
No doubt, I should a Captain be,
    Lord, that's a pretty thing, sir,
I'll tear my throat from morn to night,
    Shouting God save our King, sir.

Zounds now my blood begins to rise,
    It shows that I'm a Briton,
And if the French should dare to land,
    Huzza my boys we'll split 'em.
Each man must to his musket stand,
    And that you know's a Lion,
If Englishmen go heart and hand,
    Depend on't we'll defy 'em.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Muddley Barracks
From: GUEST,Storyteller
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:52 AM

Muddley Barracks, by Jumbo Brightwell, of Leiston, Suffolk, on Topic TSCD670 Track 7 'There is a man upon the farm' (Vol 20 of 'The Voice of the People' series)
This recording, made in 1975 by Tony Engle and Keith Summers, was originally issued on the LP Topic 12TS261 'Songs from the Eel's Foot'
Jumbo Brightwell can also be heard singing "Muddley Barracks" on a CD of recordings made by Neil Lanham in 1967/68: 'Songs from the Company of the Butley Oyster' NLCD3
The old Caedmon/Topic series of 'The Folk Songs of Britain' featured a 1956 recording by Peter Kennedy of Jumbo Brightwell which can be obtained from Folktracks.
Bungay Roger, by Charlie Hancy, of Bungay, Suffolk, on Veteran VT2CD 'Songs Sung in Suffolk', recorded by John Howson.
The Yorkshire Blinder, by the Cantwell Family, of Standlake, Oxfordshire, on cassette tape, Veteran VT109, 'The Horkey Load: Vol 2', recorded by Mike Yates.

Contemporary recordings of various versions of the song have been made by Roy Harris on his Fellside CD 'The Rambling Soldier', by Peter Bellamy, and by Tony Hall.

A text and score for the song "Muddley Barracks" is included by Roy Palmer in his book of soldiers' songs 'The Rambling Soldier' (Penguin, 1977)
Also in his later book,'What a Lovely War!' Roy Palmer gives a text only of 'Bungay Roger'(Michael Joseph,1990)

The Bodleian Library has 5 copies of the "Awkward Recruit" which can be viewed via their online catalogue.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Muddley Barracks
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 07:33 PM

I posted all the above texts for this song some eight years ago, when for some complicated reasons I was trying to hide on the Mudcat.

Since then those likely lads at Mawkin:Causley have revived the original Napoleonic ballad, and they sang it in full for possibly the first time in about 200 years on their recent CD 'The Awkward Recruit'.

The Cantwell family version, 'The Yorkshire Blinder' which they sang rather cheerfully for Mike Yates at a wedding celebration around 1975, has been reissued on CD by Veteran on VTC7CD It Was On a Market Day - Two.

The song appears as #1735 in the Roud Index where some 21 records appear including some collected by Gwilym Davies under the title of 'The Gloucester Blinder', and a version collected by Alfred Willams 'When First I Came To Sherborne Town' from Frank Cook in Burford, Oxfordshire around the early 1920's.

I think that Charlie Bate, of Padstow, Cornwall also sang a version which he knew as the 'St. Mervyn Grinder' but I can't now trace any reference to that.

The Bodleian Broadside Broadside Catalogue has 6 copies of 'The Awkward Recruit':-

Firth c.14(113); unknown printer.

Harding B 25(92); printed by J Jennings (London).

Harding B 17(14a)and(14b)* and 2806 c.18(5); printed by Lane & Walker, Norwich.
*Harding B 17(14b) is printed by J Pitts, London.

Harding B 28(98) is by another unidentified printer.

Reinhard Zierke's site 'Mainly Norfolk' contains the lyrics recorded by Peter Bellamy in 1975.

This is Jon Boden's song for January 26 2011 in his A Folk Song A Day blog.

Matthew Edwards

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Muddley Barracks/Bungay Roger
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 03:52 AM

"Bungay Roger" is the song for January 26 for Jon Boden's A Folk Song a Day project.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Muddley Barracks/Bungay Roger
From: doc.tom
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 12:09 PM

Charlie Bate's version was variously known as Rusty Old Knife or St. Issey/St.Merryn Grinders (he changed the title depending on where he was singing it.) It was also a late-night song and rarely sung if there were women he did not know well present - because of the swearing and blasphemy! I recorded Charlie's version on our CD 'Tide of Change' (Wild Goose 332) in 2006. The words go:

In the village of St.Issey/St.Merryn/Combe Martin where I was born
They called I the Artful Dodger
They told I that when I growed up
I'd have to become a soldier
They told I that the name of me corps
Would be the St.Issey/St.Merryn/Combe Martin grinders
Fol lol the day, fol lol the day
Fol lol the day 'till I get home
(Yes, Charlie's fist verse was always a couplet short!)

So I went down to the barracks
And by Christ they was a size sir
They stowed I in a bloody girt shed
As big as a fisherman's lugger
They stood I under a girt high stick
To measure me heigth and size
And they cut me hair so close to me head
I could hardly wink an eye sir
(ridiculous thing to say - but you know exactly what is meant!)

They marched I on to the square next morn
To do me duty manual
I was standing there as straight as a rod
With another bloke called Daniel
Eyes Right! Look to the fore!
God damn 'ee hold thee head up!
And if you didn't do as they bloody well said
Then they'd bugger 'ee off to the lock-up

They marched I in a dinner time
As hungry as a hunter
But we couldn't touch a God-damned zip
'Till the officer had been round sir
They brought'n in, they dished'n out
On a bloody great platter
But all I got when it come to me turn
Was a bone and bloody old tater (pronounced 'tatter')

Now don't I wish I was home again
Milking our old cow sir
Don't I wish I was home again
Folowing our old plough sir
Don't I wish I was home again
Behind a leg o' mutton
With rusty ol' knife a bloody great fork
Cor bugger I, wouldn' I cut 'n

Charlie acquired the song, I believe, during his time in the D.C.L.I. (which is also why he played marches so quickly!). I suspect the Forces was where the song got passed around and developed so many 'personalised' versions - all with strong local accents or dialect too, I notice.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Muddley Barracks/Bungay Roger
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 01:22 PM

The version Peter Bellamy sang began with the line, "Because I come from Bunga Town they call I Bunga Roger'.

The name of the town, tho spelt "Bungay", is of course locally pronounced "Bunga".

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