As you may know I made a collection of recordings of traditional British songs last year called Constant Companion.
This one is a little London ballad about a sailor who goes to a gin shop on the Ratcliffe Highway in Wapping & is somewhat taken aback by the price of drinks. It appears that London’s capacity to surprise the drinker with the cost of a round goes back a long way.
This is quite likely to have been a 19th century music hall song which migrated into the tradition, as is often the way. I found it in the trusty Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams & A.L.Lloyd. It was collected by Vaughan Williams in 1905 from a Mrs Howard in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
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