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The Poor Old Couple

[ Roud 491 ; Ballad Index BGMG821 ; trad.]

Manny Aldous of Great Bricett, Suffolk sang “Cleverly Done,” Said He on the Veteran Tapes cassette Songs Sung in Suffolk Volume 3. This track was also included in 2001 on the Veteran anthology CD Stepping It Out. This track was also included in 2007 on the CD accompanying The Folk Handbook.

Pete Harris and Mick Ryan sang The Old Couple in 1996 on their CD The Widow's Promise. They commented in their liner notes:

This was taken by Pete from a collection of Hampshire folk songs. The story is one which would not be out of place in Chaucer.

Bernie Cherrie learned The Poor Old Couple from the singing of Manny Aldous and sang it on his 2013 Musical Traditions anthology With Powder, Shot and Gun.

Paul Downes sang The Old Couple in 2013 on his WildGoose CD The Boatman's Cure.

Yet another jolly song about female infidelity. How old would they actually have been? In their 40s? Adapted from a version collected by Robert Hammond from Mrs Searle in a Dorchester workhouse in 1906.

Lyrics

Bernie Cherrie sings The Poor Old Couple

There was an old couple and they were poor
Artful, artful, dinna all day
They lived in a house with only one door
Oh, what a rum couple were they.

The old man he went out one day
He left the old woman at home for to stay
Oh what a bad woman was she.

The clerk of the parish came passing by
She invited him in with the wink of her eye
Oh what a bad woman was she.

The old man he came home at last
He tried the door and he found it fast
“Oh my poor wife!” cried he.

“It’s I’ve been sick since you’ve been gone
If you’d been in the garden you’d have heard me moan.”
“Oh my poor wife!” cried he.

“There’s one thing you can do for me
That’s fetch me an apple off yonder tree.”
“Oh that will I do!” cried he.

As he was climbing up the tree
She kicked at the ladder and down tumbled he
“That’s cleverly done!” cried he.

As he was climbing up the tree
She opened the door and away ran he
“That’s cleverly done!” cried he.