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Studying Economy

[ Roud 5377 ; trad.]

Mabs Hall of Billingshurst, Sussex, sang Studying Economy to Mike Yates on 15 June 1985. This recording was published in 1987 on the Veteran album of traditional singing in Suffolk, Ripest Apples and in 2008 on her and her son Gordon Hall's posthumous Veteran CD As I Went Down to Horsham. John Howson and Mike Yates commented in the album's booklet:

This song has hardly ever turned up in the oral tradition: in fact the only two recordings that seem to exist are this one from Mabs and another of Gordon singing it. Notes in the Roud index indicate that it appears as number 364 in the Such (of London) catalogue of broadsides. It actually appears under the title Study Economy and starts with the opening verse:

I'm a gent reduced by Railway speculation.
Tho' not possessed of simple means, I've splendid expectations;
My uncle is director of a round-the corner junction,
So I often borrow a pound or two without the least compunction.
For upon my word, by studying economy, I live like a lord.

There are then nine more verses and the Hall family version is a combination of parts of each of them. Mabs uses a tune known as The Barking Barber or Bow Bow Bow which dates back to the eighteenth century.

The Devil's Interval sang Studying Economy in 2006 on their WildGoose album Blood and Honey. They commented in their liner notes:

We felt that this perfectly described our predicament as penniless students, with a penchant for spending afternoons in coffee shops and evenings in public houses. Our version is from the singing of Mabs Hall (mother of the legendary Gordon) who Emily first heard on Ripest Apples (Veteran VT107). We were perplexed by the term ‘block ornaments’ until meat specialist Sheila Gammon enlightened us. Block ornaments are the poorer cuts of meat left on the edge of the butcher's block, sold for pennies at the end of the day. Lauren discovered a longer broadside version of the same title in the Vaughan Williams [Memorial] Library, but Mabs had already selected the best verses for us so we stuck with hers.


Mabs Hall sings Studying Economy

Oh the times are hard but I'm prepared to try to rattle through it.
And if you come and list to me, I'll tell you how I do it.
And upon my word, studying economy I live like a lord.

At ten I sally out and go to hear the band play.
Which takes me 'til eleven when I promenade the strand way.
At two I reach a coffee shop and read a book 'til seven.
And half a pint of good four ale will last me 'til eleven.
And upon my word, studying economy I live like a lord.

I can't abide block ornaments for fear of those small maggots.
So I wait until eight o'clock comes round and patronise the faggot.
And upon my word, studying economy I live like a lord.

Now I've told you all the particulars of how I pass my day away.
Through studying economy I don't have much to pay away.
Though I've reduced it. I tell it to pease pudding on a Friday.
And all things considering why I get on pretty tidy.
And upon my word, studying economy I live like a lord.

Then I sally home and make no row, for fear of mother Randell.
And into bed all in the dark, because it saves a candle.
And upon my word, studying economy I live like a lord.