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Tha' Lowks a Proper Swell Lass

[words Lal Wood, music Richard Scollins]

Keith Kendrick sang Tha' Lowks a Proper Swell Lass in 1997 on his Fellside CD Home Ground. He commented in the liner notes:

Originally a poem written along a similar line to the theme of Where Do You Go to My Lovely? by Peter Sarstedt, but much earlier (early fifties, I think) reflecting life in the mining towns and villages of North East Derbyshire by one Lal Wood. The tune was added later (70s) by Dialect Historian and dear old buddy, the late Richard Scollins. I hope I've done justice to all concerned as in my opinion this is now a truly great song.

Doug Eunson sang Tha Lewks a Proper Swell Lass on his and Sarah Matthews' 2006 album Proper Swell. He commented:

Keith Kendrick sang us this fabulous tale of rags to riches while we were collaborating on a project called “Derbyshire Born and Bred”. Written in Derbyshire dialect by Lal in the 1950s (after the song Fare Thee Well My Lovely) and Rick's poignant melody takes some beating!

Jon Boden sang Tha' Lowks a Proper Swell Lass as the July 25, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the blog:

I spent many years asking every singer I met it they knew The Fish and Chip Song after hearing it many times at the Colpitts in Durham sung by John from Derbyshire. Eventually, I heard it by chance sitting in Fay’s student house with a Keith Kendrick CD on in the background. The poem was written partly as a celebration of Derbyshire dialect so I am on very shaky ground bastardising the language and what with my southern pronunciation… It’s still such a beautiful song regardless, I really feel it needs to be sung and if you can’t pull the original off (no chance for me) then an RP version will have to do. Please check out Keith’s original Derbyshire version though.

Lyrics

Keith Kendrick sings Tha' Lowks a Proper Swell Lass Jon Boden sings Tha' Lowks a Proper Swell Lass

Tha' lowks a proper swell, lass,
Tha' lowks a proper swell,
Thee diamond rings and fea'rs and things
Become thee very well.

Tha' looks a proper swell, lass,
Tha' looks a proper swell
Y'r diamond rings and pearls and things
Become you very well.

But I remembers time, lass, in 1933
Tha lived at bottom house in't road,
And did na let thee parents know
Tha went for walks wi' me.

But I remember times, lass, 1983
You lived at the bottom of our road,
And you didn't let your parents know
That you went walking out with me.

Tha's done right for theeself lass, aye,
Tha you did na do so bad
In catching on with Billy John,
Oud Sally Radcliffe's lad.

And you done well for yourself, lass,
No you didn't do so bad
In catching on with Billy John,
Old Sally Radcliffe's lad.

But I remembers time, lass, as plain as ABC
Tha'd steal thee sen away from t' house
As quiet as a wee brown mouse
To goo for walks wi' me.

But I remember times, lass, as plain as ABC
You'd steal yourself from out the house
As quiet as a wee brown mouse
To go walking out with me.

Tha cocks thee nose in th'air, lass,
Tha cocks thee nose in th'air,
An I hear thee plans as thee ould man
Will be next borough mayor.

Now you hold yourself so proud, lass,
With your nose up in the air,
And I hear you plan as your old man
Will be next borough mayor.

But I remembers times lass,
Afore tha drove with glee
In mayor's car in fancy clothes,
How tha used to don thee shoes
When walking out wi' me.

But I remember times, lass,
Before you rode with glee
In a mayor's car with fancy clothes,
How you used to don your shoes
To go walking out with me.

And I wouldna wear tha's shoes, lass,
No I wouldna wear tha's shoes,
Though tha dines in state off silver plate
At corporation do's.

I'd not be in your shoes, lass,
I'd not be in your shoes,
Though you dine in state off silver plate
At corporation do's.

But I remembers time, lass,
I thout it wor a spree,
In somed'ys dark door 'all ter stand
And from a paper in me hand
Eat fish and chips wi me.

But I remember times, lass,
When you thought it quite a spree
In someone's darkened doorway stand,
And from a paper in my hand
To eat fish and chips with me.

Well I wish thee all good luck, lass,
I wish thee all good luck,
Though tha's been the wife to John for life
And tha's never come unstuck.

Well I wish you all good luck, lass,
I wish you all good luck,
As being the wife to John for life
And never come unstuck.

But best not tell oud chap, lass, nor yet the family,
𝄆 If th'art a wife wi'out a flaw,
Tha learned a lot a lass should know
When walking out wi me. 𝄇

But best not let the old man know nor yet your family,
For if th'art a wife without a flaw,
You learned a lot a lass should know
From walking out with me.

Acknowledgements

Thank you very much to Kasper Loopstra for the lyrics and to Jon Boden for correcting some embarrassing errors.