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Washing Day

[ Roud 3747 ; Ballad Index Lins296 ; Bodleian Roud 3747 ; trad.]

A Touch on the Times Bothy Songs and Ballads

Tim Radford sang Washing Day on his 2005 CD Home From Home. He noted:

A tune and song from the Adderbury Morris Dance Tradition, whose revival I have been involved with since 1974. The text of this version comes from Folklore and Songs of the Black Country and the West Midlands Vol. 3 by Mike and Jon Raven, and is from a Broadside printed by T. Bloomer of Birmingham. The old Morris team in Adderbury would sometimes sing the verses of a song in set position without moving, and then clash sticks during the chorus, as a break or breather between dances or at club feasts. They called them “Clap Songs”.


Tim Radford sings Washing Day

The sky with clouds was overcast, the rain began to fall,
My wife she beat the children and she raise a pretty squall.
She bade with a frowning look to get out of the way,
The devil a bit of comfort there upon the Washing Day.

Chorus (after each verse):
For it’s thump thump and scrub scrub and scrub scrub away
The devil a bit of comfort there upon the Washing Day.

My Kate she is a bonny wife, there’s none more free from evil
Except upon a washing day and then she is a devil.
The very kittens on the hearth they dare not even play,
Away they jump with many a thump upon the Washing Day.

A friend of mine once asked of me how long poor Kate was died,
Lamenting the good creature and sorry I was wed,
To such a scolding vixen, while he had been at sea,
The truth it was, he chanced to come upon a Washing Day.

On that morning when I arise, I make a fervent prayer,
Unto the Gods that it may be throughout the day quite fair.
That not a gown nor handkerchief may in the dirt be laid,
For should it happen so, egad—upon the Washing Day.