Henry's Songbook

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Hard Times Of Old England

  • (Trad / add. lyrics Roy Bailey)

    And it's Oh, the hard times of old England
    In old England very hard times

    Come all working people who travel alone
    And pray come and tell me where the work has all gone
    Long time I have travelled and never found none

    Provisions you buy from the shop, it is true
    But if you've got no money there's none there for you
    So what are poor folk and their families to do

    You go to a shop and you ask for a job
    They answer you there with a shake and a nod
    It's enough to make poor folk to turn out and rob

    You see working people a-walking the street
    From morning till night for employment to seek
    And scarcely they have any shoes to their feet

    Soldiers and sailors have just come from war
    Been fighting for Queen and for country, sure
    Come home to be starved, far better have stayed where they were

    So come all working people and stand to your ground
    If we all join together we can turn it around
    Freedom is turning the world upside down

    Final chorus:
    Sing, Oh the good times of old England
    In old England very good times

    (as sung by Band of Hope / Roy Bailey)

  • Tune: The Roast Beef of Old England

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1979:] Starting in Warwickshire in 1872, the National Agricultural Labourers' Union grew to a membership of 100,000 within twelve months, under the leadership of Joseph Arch. [...] The NALU was effectively broken [in 1874], though it lingered until 1896. During the hectic early years songs played an important part at meetings and demonstrations. [...] One such was written by a man called Benjamin Britten, to a tune which was used for at least one other country song, The Hard Times of Old England. (Palmer, Country 72)

  • [1982:] The song The roast beef of old England was a composed 'gentlemen's' song until its parodies passed into oral tradition. It was used for many years as a party campaign song, originally by the Tories but later, with suitably ironic words, by supporters of the working-class movement. In the early days of the nineteenth century, for example, it was adapted as The hard times of old England, a bitter comment on prices, low wages, unemployment and poor living conditions. (Pollard, Folksong 15)

  • [2000:] The roast beef of old England is not English at all. Archaeologists from the Museum of London have discovered proof that Britons acquired the habit of eating cows from Roman soldiers 2,000 years ago. [...] It was thought that beef did not become part of the national diet until the Middle Ages, or even later - 1,000 years after the Romans. But Dr Simon Thurley, director of the Museum of London, says that theory has now been disproved. 'What is clear is that Ancient Britons did not eat beef at all,' said Dr Thurley. 'Their diet was predominantly mutton, with a few pigs thrown in. Beef of Liberty was an eighteenth-century cry, and we've always thought that was when beef became associated with Britain. What's astonishing about excavating this site is that the cooking hearths and rubbish dumps were stuffend full of beef. This must mean beef was a Roman military preference. [...] Over a period of 10 to 15 years they managed to attract lots of Ancient Britons to the new town [of Londinium] and they quickly became Romanised. [...] There was a revolution in the way people were eating. A huge beef-eating craze gripped the first Londoners.' (Tracy McVeigh, Observer, 6 Aug)

Quelle: England

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