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Artichokes and Cauliflowers

[ Roud 2456 ; VWML PG/5/10 ; Bodleian Roud 2456 ; trad.]

John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris sang Artichokes and Cauliflowers in 1976 on their Topic album Among the Many Attractions at the Show Will Be a Really High Class Band. They noted:

Billingsgate, London’s fish market, seems an odd place for this purveyor of vegetables to set up business, but the lure of her fancyman plying the nearby waters of the Thames was obviously an overriding consideration in the choice of the barrow-girl’s pitch. Percy Grainger recorded this 19th century stage song in 1906 from George Orton at Brigg, Lincolnshire. [VWML PG/5/10] .

Danny Spooner sang Artichokes and Cauliflowers on his 2013 CD Gorgeous, Game Girls. He noted:

Coming from the East End of London and having been an apprentice waterman and lighterman, I'm reminded in this song of my own background. I first heard it sung by my Aunt Jess who used to belt out many songs like this one. She was a darlin' an' right 'ansom' like this young ‘barra gel’.

Lyrics

John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris sing Artichokes and Cauliflowers

You fair maids of London who lead a single life,
It's better far being a barrow girl than a rich merchant's wife.
So early in the morning you will hear her to cry,
“Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens will you buy.”

There sits a girl at St Billingsgate, I'll not tell to you her name,
She's proper tall and she's handsome and worthy of her fame.
As she waits for her jolly waterman to come rowing by still she'll cry,
“Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens will you buy.”

Now her husband he's a quiet man, and a quiet man is he,
Oh for the wear the horns, my boys, contented he must be.
For she goes and takes a pleasure when the waterman comes nigh,
“Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens will you buy.”

Now the waterman is a trade, my boys, it's a trade that seldom fails.
Come hail, rain or sunshine our boats are in for sail.
And the barrow girl so merrily with the waterman she'll fly,
“Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens will you buy.”

Here's to your love, here's to my love, and to true-hearted souls,
Likewise to the jolly waterman with his full flowing bowl.
And here's a health to the barrow girl as in Billingsgate still she'll cry,
“Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens will you buy.”

Danny Spooner sings Artichokes and Cauliflowers

You fair maids of London that lead a single life,
It's better far being a barra gel than a rich merchant's wife.
So early in the morning you'll hear her for to cry,
“Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens won't you buy.”

There sits a gel at Billingsgate, I'll not tell you her name,
For she's proper tall and handsome and worthy of her fame.
As she waits for her jolly waterman to come rowing by
She'll cry, “Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens won't you buy.”

Now the waterman's is a trade me boys that will never fail,
In rain, hail or sunshine our boats they do sail,
And the barra gel to her waterman so quickly she will fly,
Crying, “Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens won't you buy.”

Here's to your love, here's to my love, and to all true-hearted souls,
And here's to the jolly waterman and his flowing bowl.
And here's a health to the barra gal as in Billingsgate she cries,
“Artichokes and cauliflowers, pretty maidens won't you buy.”

Acknowledgements

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Artichokes & Cauliflowers.