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Colin’s Ghost

[ Roud 1600 ; Master title: Colin’s Ghost ; VWML HAM/3/13/3 ; Bodleian Roud 1600 ; trad.]

Marrow Bones Later English Broadside Ballads.

Jon Wilks sang Colin’s Ghost in February 2018 in his Grizzlyfolk blog Folk from the Attic and on a digital single. He later included it on his 2018 album Midlife. He noted:

One of several songs, two of which I’ve recorded on this album, that were collected from Mrs Webb of King’s Norton in February, 1906 [VWML HAM/3/13/3] . While it appears that Mrs Webb originated from the Midlands, at the time of the song’s collection, it is thought that she was living in Bath, most probably at the workhouse. Henry Hammond took the song down and it was included in Frank Purslow’s Marrow Bones, although it is exceedingly rare in the recorded canon. My own memories of Kings Norton are limited to trips to McDonalds. I have no recollection of seeing any ghosts, although the Colin in this song, as you’ll discover, is hardly paranormal. In fact, what he has in mind is about as normal as it gets.


Jon Wilks sings Colin’s Ghost

My mummy and daddy they lived in a cot
They bought me a horse that could amble and trot
On each market day, well it fell to my share
To go to the market with eggs and such ware

Scarce seventeen summers were over my head
When over and round the gay village was spread
There was not a lane for a mile at the most
Was haunted by something they said was a ghost

My mummy, she never once scrupled to swear
She’d often seen ghosts and she knew what they were
So she spoke to my father, for he ruled the roost
To go in my stead lest I should meet the ghost

Being baulked of my ride I was vexed in my mind
And being resolved was the secret to find
I looked out of doors and I spied a clear coast
I peeped down the lane to discover the ghost

Then who should I spy come a sauntering along
But Colin the shepherd a-singing a song
He sung it so sweet as he leaned on the post
He beckoned, I went, for I knew him no ghost

With his arm ’round my waste he so eagerly pressed
And I thought my poor heart would leap out of my breast
He kissed my sweet lips ’till as warm as a toast
So eagerly there I was pressed by a ghost

Being pleased with my fancy I got home with speed
My mummy, she never once missed me indeed
So instead of my supper, my tea and my toast
I nightly attend, well pleased, with my ghost