excerpt from 'About Myself, 1863–1930' pp. 30–32 (543 words)

excerpt from 'About Myself, 1863–1930' pp. 30–32 (543 words)

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About Myself, 1863–1930

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Localized or Yorkshire sentimental songs were sung on many a hearthstone, in many a public-house, music-hall or homely social gathering. My dad used to sing one called “ Ben Hobson’s Advice to his Sons.”


“Ben Hobson sat before the fire, and puffed his bacca smook,
The picture of a good old sire to give and take a joke ;
He’d puff away, look wisely round, then wink’d at Dick and Dan,
Just like a mortal, wisdom crowned, then to his sons began:
‘My bonny lads, you've just arrived at th’world’s uncertain age,
And with my tongue I'll just contrive the lesson of a sage,
Take all th’advice that you can get, turn not your head away,
Don’t let folks put you in a pet with anything they say,”


Another old bit was with a very drawling tune, or lack of one.


“When a child I lived at Lincoln with my parents at the farm,
The lessons that my mother taught to me were quite a charm;
She used to take me on her knee when tired of childish play,
And as she pressed me to her breast I’ve heard my mother say:
‘Waste not, want not’ is a maxim I would teach,
And let your watchword be ‘ dispatch,’ and practise what you preach,
Then do not let your chances like the sunbeams pass you by,
For you'll never miss the water till the well runs dry.”


One of my own favourite songs as a lad and young man, in addition to the ‘‘Farmer’s Boy ” (which I have sung in pub and club hundreds of times) was an old North Country ditty, as follows:


“When ah had wark and brass to spend,
Ah niver wanted for a friend;
Foaks coom a camping ivery neet,
And moved at me when we met i’ th’ street.
Mi company wor coorted then
Bi business chaps and gentlemen,
Ah cahnted comrades bi the score
But na ah’ve none since ah gat poor,

Ah’d invitations ivery day,
To dine or sup or tak mi tay,
Or goa an’ have a friendly chat Wi’ Mr. this, or Mrs. that;
An’ t’ squire o’ consequence to boot,
Wood ask me o’er to fish an’ shoot,
Wi’ dog an’ gun o’er dale an’ moor,
But nah that's changed since ah gat poor.

Then Scotchmen bothered me wi’ goods,
Wi’ tongues as smooth as soft soap suds,
Mi patronage, they strove to get it,
Wi’ yards o’ cloth an’ years o’ credit,
But nah, they’ve changed ther tune bi’t’ mass,
They come hawking tay for ready brass,
They carn’t see t’number on mi door,
They've got so blind since ah gat poor.


An’ what maks me feel varey fow’
Mi kinfolks doesna know me now,
Stuck up wi’ pride to sich a pitch,
Aw’v nooa relations but what’s rich,
An even my own brother, Jim
He says I’m nowt akin to him,
You may live o’th air or lig o’th floor,
It’s good enough for those ‘ats poor.”


I am sure my readers will see from these quotations what a helpful radicalism was breathed into my life from my untutored, unlettered father.

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excerpt from 'About Myself, 1863–1930' pp. 30–32 (543 words)


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