> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Butter and Cheese and All

Butter and Cheese and All / The Greasy Cook

[ Roud 510 ; G/D 4:914 ; Ballad Index CoSB236 ; Bodleian Roud 510 ; Wiltshire Roud 510 ; trad.]

Leslie Johnson of Fittleworth, Sussex, sang The Cook's Choice on November 8, 1954 to Bob Copper for the BBC recording 22762. The song lyrics were printed in Copper's book Songs & Southern Breezes. The recording was also included with the title Butter and Cheese and All in 2012 on the Topic anthology of ballads sung by British and Irish Traditional Singers in the 1940s-60s, Good People Take Warning (The Voice of the People Volume 23). Steve Roud noted in the anthology's booklet:

This song was popular in England and North America, but only noted occasionally elsewhere in Britain. It also appeared on a number of broadsides, from about the 1820s onwards, where it was often called Cookey's Courtship, or Cupboard Love, and the story changes little from version to version. According to Bob Copper's Songs & Southern Breezes (1973), the text of this song was included in the handwritten notebook of John Johnson (c.1865-c.1943), of Fittleworth, Sussex, who was Leslie Johnson's father. Leslie remembered the tune from his father's singing, but Bob does not make it clear whether he remembered the words, or sang them from the book.

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger recorded Sam Larner singing Butter and Cheese in 1958-60 and issued it in 1961 on his Folkways LP Now Is the Time for Fishing. This track was also included in 2014 on his Musical Traditions anthology Cruising Round Yarmouth.

Harry Cox sang The Greasy Cook on his 1965 LP Harry Cox Sings English Love Songs.

Peter Bellamy sang Butter and Cheese and All unaccompanied on his first solo LP, Mainly Norfolk, and on June 22, 1971 live at the Folk Studio, Norwich. This performance was published on his LP with Louis Killen, Won't You Go My Way?.

Peter Bellamy commented in the original album's liner notes:

Of the many singers discovered by song collectors in my home country of Norfolk, Harry Cox and Sam Larner stand supreme, unrivalled not only for the quantity of their songs, but also the quality. Thus it is hardly surprising that six of the twelve songs which I have chosen to record have come from them. Both these singers had repertoires which covered the entire spectrum of English rural song, from the high Classic Ballad down (or up?) to outright bawdry.

The German Musicianer from Harry Cox and Butter and Cheese and All from Sam Larner are fine examples of the latter—both of them witty songs, revelling in double entendre—so much that I have known audiences totally failing to grasp the meaning of the Musicianer. You can work it out for yourself!

Jon Goodluck sang Butter and Cheese and All in 1976 on his Sweet Folk & Country album of traditional songs of Suffolk, Speed the Plough.

Jon Boden sang Butter and Cheese and All as the February 12, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Matt Quinn learned Butter and Cheese and All from the singing of Leslie Johnson and recorded it for his 2017 CD The Brighton Line. He commented:

A Sussex version of a popular song. The most well known versions come from the repertoires of Norfolk singers Harry Cox and Sam Larner. This is a nice little bawdy comic song that touches on farce towards the end. Surely a vicar should appear at some point…

Nick Hart sang Butter & Cheese in 2017 on his CD Nick Hart Sings Eight English Folk Songs. He noted:

From the singing of Sam Larner, my favourite of the old boy singers. He was a Norfolk fisherman and from [Winterton].

Lyrics

Leslie Johnson sings The Cook's Choice Harry Cox sings The Greasy Cook

What a pity it is to tease me or try me for to sing,
When it does not lay in my power to do any such thing.
But since you have teased me so, I'll try what I can do,
And when I come to the chorus,
𝄆 Why, you must bawl out, too. 𝄇

It's of a cook I fell in love and the truth I don't deny;
For why a cook should have her choice, I'll tell you the reason why.
Because she has plenty of mince pies, plum puddings and roast beaf
And when my belly was empty 𝄆 She gave to me a relief. 𝄇

I fell in love with a Greasy Cook
And that I can't deny
I fell in love with a greasy cook
𝄆 I'll tell you the reason why. 𝄇

Plum pudding, roast beef a plenty
Plum pudding, roast beef
Oh when my belly was empty
𝄆 She gave to me relief 𝄇

Se sent me an invitation some supper for to take.
I kindly did accept it all for my belly's sake,
And, after supper was over, of the cupboard I got the keys.
One pocked I crammed with butter
𝄆 And the other I stuffed with cheese. 𝄇

I kindly was invited
Some supper for to take
And kindly I did accept it
𝄆 All for my stomach's sake 𝄇

Now after supper was over
The cupboard she took some key
One pocket she crammed butter
𝄆 And the other she crammed with cheese 𝄇

Then supper being over about half an hour or more,
When the master smelling of my cheese came tapping at the door.
And, I not knowing where to hide, up the chimney I did hide,
And there I sat quite at my ease
𝄆 Like a sweep exalted high. 𝄇

Her master smelling of the cheese
Came rat-tat at the door
I had nowhere to hide my face
𝄆 But up the chimney crawl 𝄇

I hadn't been long sitting there, a-sitting at my ease,
When the fire began to melt my butter, likewise to toast my cheese.
And every drop that fell in the fire it caused the fire to flare,
And the old man looked up the chimney
𝄆 And swore that Satan was there. 𝄇

I had not been there very long
A sitting at my ease
The fire melted my butter
𝄆 And likewise touched my cheese 𝄇

Every drop that fell on the fire
It caused the old fire to rear
The old woman looked up the chimney top
𝄆 And she swore the old devil was there 𝄇

The up the chimney top he got and down some water poured,
And I came tumbling after, my butter and cheese and all.
But I'm safe down from the chimney now, with a smut and a greasy face,
And out of the street door I nimbly ran
𝄆 And down the street I was chased. 𝄇

Her master went to the chimney top
A bucket of water let fall
And I came following after
𝄆 Me butter and cheese and all 𝄇

The dogs did bark, the children screamed, up flew the windows all,
And every soul cried out, “Well done!” as loud as they could bawl.
So to make an end to my ditty, boys, I hope I an't kept you long,
So we'll wish success to the chorus
𝄆 And sing another good song. 𝄇

The dogs did bark and the children screamed
Up flew the windows all
The old woman cried out, well done, well done
𝄆 There goes butter and cheese and all. 𝄇

Sam Larner sings Butter and Cheese Peter Bellamy sings Butter and Cheese and All

Oh now you’ve called on me to sing, I’ll see what I can do,
And when that I have finished it I’ll call upon one of you,
And now you’ve called on me to sing I’ll see what I can do,
And when that I have finished it,
𝄆 I’ll call upon one of you. 𝄇

Well now you've called on me to sing, I'll see what I can do,
And when that I have finished it I'll call on one of you.
Well now you've called on me to sing I'll see what I can do,
And when that I have finished it,
𝄆 I'll call on one of you. 𝄇

Now, the first time I went a-courting, I’ll tell you the reason why,
It was to a jolly old cook who my wants she did supply,
She fed me off the best roast beef and plenty of mince pies,
And when that I was hungry
𝄆 She would my wants supply. 𝄇

Now, the first time I went a-courting, well I'll tell you the reason why,
It was to a jolly old cook because my wants she did supply.
She fed me on the best roast beef and plenty of mince pies,
And whenever that I was hungry
𝄆 My wants she did supply. 𝄇

One night I went to see her, she invited me to tea,
She said: “The missus and master’s out, we’ll have a jolly spree.”
I went into the parlour my own true love to please,
And into one pocket she rammed some butter
𝄆 And into the other some cheese. 𝄇

So one day I went to see her and she asked me in to tea,
She said, “The missus and master's out, we'll have a jolly spree.”
So I went into the parlour my own true love to please
And into one pocket she's rammed some butter
𝄆 And into the other some cheese. 𝄇

Now after supper was over and I could eat no more,
Oh Lord! at my surprise when a rap came at the door;
And then for a hiding place, my boys, for that I did not know,
As black as any old crow,
𝄆 As black as any old crow. 𝄇

Now after supper was over, and I could eat no more,
Oh Lord, to my surprise when a knock comes to the door.
So I looked around for a place to hide but that I did not know.
So it's up the old chimney I did creep,
𝄆 As black as any old crow. 𝄇

Now the fire it being rather warm, it began to scorch my knees,
And then to melt my butter, Likewise to toast my cheese;
For every drop dropped in the fire, a mighty blaze was there,
The master swore in his old heart,
𝄆 The devil himself was there. 𝄇

Now, the fire it being rather warm, it began to scorch my knees,
Likewise to melt my butter and likewise to toast my cheese,
And every drop dropped in the fire, a terrible place was there.
And the master swore as in his poor old house
𝄆 That the Devil himself was there. 𝄇

Now up the top the master went to drive Old Harry out,
He began to pour cold water down which put me to a rout;
And down the chimney I did come and into the streets did crawl,
I was obliged to ramble as fast as I could
𝄆 With my butter and cheese and all. 𝄇

So it's way up on the roof he climbed for to drive old Harry out,
He began to pour cold water down what put me to a rout.
And it's down the old chimney I did creep and into the street did crawl,
I was forced to ramble as fast as I could
𝄆 With my butter and cheese and all. 𝄇

Now some they said it was Old Nick, for him you very well know,
And some they said ‘twas the devil himself, for I was as black as a crow;
The dogs did bark, the children screamed, tut flew the old women and all,
Spoken: You know what they are, don’t ya?
And then they began to blubber it out:
𝄆 “He’ve got butter and cheese and all!” 𝄇

Now some they said it was the devil and him they very well know,
But some they just said it was Harry myself though I was as black as a crow,
The dogs did bark, the children screamed, up rushed the women all,
And then they began to blabber as how
𝄆 You've got butter and cheese and all. 𝄇