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Fagan the Cobbler

[ Roud 872 ; Master title: Fagan the Cobbler ; Ballad Index R102 ; Bodleian Roud 872 ; GlosTrad Roud 872 ; trad.]

Wickets Richardson sang Fagan the Cobbler at the Blaxhall Ship in Suffolk in 1955 in a film made by Peter Kennedy. This recording was included on the anthology Jack of All Trades (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 3; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968), and this recording and the film were released in 2014 on the Topic album and DVD The Barley Mow (The Voice of the People Volume 26). He also sang Fagin the Cobbler to Neil Lanham in Blaxhall, Suffolk, very probably at the Blaxhall Ship, in 1964-5. This recording was included in ca 2000 on the Helions Bumpstead anthology Songs from the Idiom of the People of Blaxhall.

Tommy Makem sang The Cobbler on the 1956 Tradition album of folk songs and dances from the Irish countryside, The Lark in the Morning.

Cyril Poacher sang Fagan the Cobbler to Neil Lanham at Grove Farm, Blaxhall, in 1965. This recording was included in 1999 on his Musical Traditions anthology Plenty of Thyme. Rod Stradling noted:

Another Irish song found (in England) only in Suffolk, and it is of interest to note that in the 1940's the Anglo-lrish composer E.J. Moeran commented that there was a strong cross-flow of songs between East Anglia and Ireland brought about by fishermen who would often shelter in each other's ports. Both Albert and Wickets Richardson had it as Fagan the Cobbler, Percy Ling just called it The Cobbler, and Charlie Stringer, over in Whickham Skeith, called it Kibosh the Cobbler.

Roud lists 18 references, but only these four are from England—and, unusually, all the singers have been recorded. This is the only known recording of Cyril singing this—what he would have considered Wickets' song. The Cobbler (under various titles) is also found in Scotland and the USA.

Paul McNeill sang Dick Derby in 1967 on the Saga album Alex Campbell and His Friends.

Percy Ling sang Fagin the Cobbler to Keith Summers in 1974-5. This was included in 1977 on the Ling family's Topic album Singing Traditions of a Suffolk Family.

Charlie Stringer sang Kibosh the Cobbler in a recording made by Mike Yates on the 1984 Home-Made Music album of traditional songs and melodeon tunes from Central Suffolk, Who Owns the Game?.

Lyrics

Wickets Richardson sings Fagan the Cobbler

My name it is Fagan the cobbler
And I been at it now hall my life,
To earn one honest shilling,
To take home to me darling young wife.

Chorus (after each verse):
While I sing twine, twine, twine, twiddle twine
With me twine, twine, twiddle all day
To me whack fol the riddle all the laddie
To me whack fol the riddle all day

My wife she starts drinking
And she's drinking her pints by the score.
On I know she's a-spending my money
Down at old Blaxhall Ship.

My wife she's turned teetotaller
And she swears she won't mop any more.
for now she's a-saving all my money,
She's putting it by in galore.

Cyril Poacher sang Fagan the Cobbler

My name it is Fagan the Cobbler;
I've been at it now all my life,
Trying to earn an odd shilling
To take home to my darling young wife.

Chorus (after each verse):
While I keep twine, twine, twine, twiddle twine,
With my twine twine twiddle all day.
Singing wack for the riddle ol laddie,
Wack for the riddle ol day.

Now my wife she's started drinking,
She's drinking her pints by the score.
And now she's spending my money,
Spending and buying galore.

Now my wife she's turned a teetotaller,
She says she won't mop anymore,
And now she's a-saving all my money
She's putting it by in galore.