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Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today

20 Sep 10 - 05:16 AM (#2990139)
Subject: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50 today
From: mayomick

I've just seen on wsws that today is the 50th anniversary of the Cook and Rowe evictions from rented accommodations in London's St Pancras and Kentish Town districts. This is what Ewan MacColl who lived in the Kings Cross area at the time wrote his song Cook and Rowe about . I can't see Cook and Rowe -which was like a shanty if I remember rightly - in the database ; it would probably fair to say that the song wouldn't be all that singable today . Just thought I'd give it a mention in case anybody was there at the time or remembers as I do seeing the eviction battles on TV .

"On the evening of September 21 hundreds of tenants and police clashed outside of the working class district's town hall. Early the next morning contingents of about 400 police tried to remove two tenants barricaded in their apartments: Arthur Rowe, a 59-year old waiter in St. Pancras, and Don Cook, a 38 year-old former paratrooper in Kentish Town. In Rowe's apartment police smashed a 7 foot by 3 foot hole to remove him; Cook alerted his neighbors by launching fireworks, and residents flooded out to attack police."

20 Sep 10 - 07:48 AM (#2990188)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: Jim Carroll

Here it is - not sure about it not being singable with the way the economy is being handled at the moment.
Jim Carroll

(Or The Landlord's Nine Questions)   
In 1960, the local council of the Borough of St. Pancras raised the rents of municipal flats.    Many working people found it difficult to meet the increased financial burden imposed upon them by these rents and, under the leadership of two "desert rats"   (Don Cook and Arthur Rowe), they organized a rent-strike which in a matter of two or three weeks became a national topic of conversation. The council's bailiffs were sent in but were repelled after a preliminary skirmish and from that time on the rent strike took on the character of a military siege.    The tenants barricaded the buildings with barbed wire, old pianos and junk of all kinds, and from sympathisers the country over came a constant supply of canned food.    The television coverage provided Britain with one of its most popular daily shows.    An army of the police finally battoned their way through demonstrators to find that their only possible point of entry was through the roof.    A group of intrepid police officers effected an entry and were greeted with the offer of a cup of tea from the strikers' general staff.

(or: The Landlord's Nine Questions)
Words and Music by Peggy Seeger

As true a story I'll relate
How the landlord told Don Cook one night,
You must answer questions nine
To see if your flat is yours or mine

Hey, ho, tell them no
With a barb-wire fence and a piano,
Took a thousand cops to make them go,
Three cheers for Cook and Rowe!

What is higher than a tree? (With a, etc.)
And what is lower than a flea?
My rent is higher than a tree,
And the landlord's lower than a flea.

What goes on and never stops?
And what is gentler than a cop?
The tenants' fight will never stop
And the devil is gentler than a cop.

What is stronger than a door?
And tell me what a roof is for?
Barb-wire is stronger, here's your proof,
The bailiffs came in through the roof.
Will you get off my property?
Or will you pay the rent to me?
We've settled in as you can see,
Now, won't you stop for a cup of tea?

O, now I've lost my board and bed,
I'll barricade the streets instead.
So all you tenants, settle in,
Keep up the fight, you're bound to win.

20 Sep 10 - 03:17 PM (#2990421)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: mayomick

Thanks Jim. On reflection you could well be right about the singability. I was only a kid at the time ,but can still remember the black and white TV news reports of the cops getting pelted with flour bombs as they tried to gain entry .

20 Sep 10 - 07:58 PM (#2990566)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: mayomick

I've just noticed from Jim's post that Peggy Seeger wrote the song ,not Ewan Macoll as I had thought. More like a military drill sort of a song or a plantation work song than a shanty perhaps ?

21 Sep 10 - 04:33 AM (#2990697)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today

I seem to remember this was sung on New Briton Gazette (Folkways) by Peggy.

23 Jan 11 - 11:54 AM (#3080699)
Subject: LYR.ADD.: St. Pancras Day
From: Charley Noble

"Hey ho! Cook and Rowe" was recorded by Peggy Seeger on New Britain Gazette II, Folkways Records FW 8734.

The same incident inspired a song by by Alex Comfort, © 1961, titled "St. Pancras Day" set to the tune of "Courtin’ in the Kitchen."

Come all you tenants skint,
Pay heed to my narration,
I’ll give you a hint
On dealing with inflation;
The Tories were returned,
Decided on a flutter â€"
We’d pay them what we earned,
Or we’d wake up in the gutter.


With my toora, loora, la,
Toora, loora, laddy,
Toora, loora, la,
St. Pancras Borough Council.

The notice it was sent
From Mr. Price the Chairman:
You’ll have to pay the rent
Or get out then and there, man;
The Council took today
Solicitor’s advice, sir,
And if you want to stay
You’ve got to pay the price, sir. (CHO)

The tenants they returned
An answer brief and civil:
Your bloody forms we’ve burned
And we’ll see you at the devil;
Our mate, he’s wired in nice,
And sentries put to watch him,
And as for Mr. Price
We’ll pay him when we catch him! (CHO)
The bailiffs they come round
Just as the dawn was breaking;
Their strategy was sound,
They thought we’d not be waking;
But as they came in haste
A rocket took the air, sir,
And much to their distaste
Half London it was there, sir. (CHO)

They had to break the wall
And enter through a fissure,
And standing by on call
Was the Brighton Horse Militia;
It was like a NATO show
With Monty there to guide it,
A tank laid one man low
With the goldfish still inside it. (CHO)

When they got the tenants out
By dint of demolition;
The people raised a shout
And flocked around to listen;
They said, “We mean to fight!â€쳌
Their comments were explicit,
And we all went round that night
To pay Mr. Price a visit. (CHO)

He screamed for the police
To save him from the tenants;
We had to swear the peace
And in court we’re doing penance;
But the Tories should reflect,
It’s too soon for celebrating â€"
There’s hundreds to eject
And they’ll find us ready waiting.

Charley Noble

23 Jan 11 - 01:31 PM (#3080781)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: GUEST,folkiedave

I seem to remember Peggy having this in a set in the last three or four years.

23 Jan 11 - 06:49 PM (#3081028)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: Charley Noble

Apologies for not removing the more ornate quotation marks in Alex Comfort's song, which was published in SING, August 1961, p. 8.

Oh, and I should mention that Peggy Seeger slightly revised the lyrics to "Hey ho! Cook and Rowe" when she re-published the song in The Peggy Seeger Songbook, Oak Publications, New York, US, © 1998, pp. 54-55.

Charley Noble

13 Feb 11 - 01:58 PM (#3094481)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: Charley Noble

Here's a link to a news photo of this eviction drama: click hear and then scroll down to near bottom of page

No doubt the link won't survive very long but its a great image while it works. The caption reads: "A speaker addresses a gathering at tenement house in London's Kentish Town yesterday where rent rebel Donald Cook is holding out against police."

It mentions that at one point Don Cook had 12 pianos in his flat blocking the entries! One wonders how he got in or out.

Charley Noble

01 Aug 14 - 05:50 AM (#3647267)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: GUEST,Gerry

"The Landlord's Nine Questions" --- but the landlord only asks eight questions. The ninth question, "Now, won't you stop for a cup of tea?" was asked by the strikers' general staff.

01 Aug 14 - 07:48 AM (#3647290)
Subject: RE: Hey ho! Cook and Rowe 50th today
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick

I remember Peggy saying one time that when the police finally battered their way into the flat, the two occupants greeted them by asking, "Would you like a cup of tea?".

I'm not sure what is meant by singable in this context. If it means relevant to the present day political situation, then I'd say it's eminently singable.

Has everyone forgotten the bedroom tax?