> The Watersons > Songs > A Stitch in Time

A Stitch in Time

[Mike Waterson]

Martin Carthy sang bis brother-in-law Mike Waterson's song A Stitch in Time live at the Udazkenean Festival, Donostia, Spain, 1986, on the Watersons' anthology of 2004, Mighty River of Song. Another live recording from New York City in 1987 was included in 2001 on his own Free Reed anthology, The Carthy Chronicles. He recorded this song officially in 1988 for his album Right of Passage, where he commented in the sleeve notes:

The sailor's flash of temper at the end [of Eggs in Her Basket] would seem to make him a cousin in spirit to the character finally on the receiving end in A Stitch in Time, a true story put into song by Mike Waterson about four years ago. It happened about 1962 in the Hessle Road area of Hull and the tune is that of a brutal Royal Navy song called On Board of a Man-of-War.

I don't know of any recording by Mike Waterson himself.

Grace Notes sang A Stitch in Time in 1993 on their Fellside CD Down Falls the Day.

Kate Green sang A Stitch in Time in 1994 on her cassette An Unkindness of Ravens.

Chumbawamba sang a very much shortened version of A Stitch in Time in 1995 on their live CD Showbusiness! and in 2007 on Get on With It—Live.

Fi Fraser and Jo Freya sang A Stitch in Time in 1998 on their No Masters duo CD The Fraser Sisters.

Christy Moore sang A Stitch in Time in 2001 on his CD This Is the Day and five years later on Live in Dublin 2006. He commented in the first album's sleeve notes:

Mike Waterson from North Yorkshire taught me The Lakes of Ponchartrain in 1967 and now it is part of our National repertoire. Here is another song from Mike which he wrote to describe strange events in a neighbouring parish. I learnt it from the singing of Martin Carthy.

Maddy Prior & The Girls sang A Stitch in Time in 2002 on their CD Bib and Tuck.

Lucy Ward sang A Stitch in Time as a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2009 finalist and recorded it in 2011 for her CD Adelphi Has to Fly. This video shows a more recent performance from the Gate to Southwell Folk Festival in June 2013:

Wheeler Street sang A Stitch in Time on March 29, 2010 at The Corn Exchange, Maidstone. This concert was published a year later on their CD Live.

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings A Stitch in Time Chumbawamba's abridged version

Oh there was a woman and she lived on her own,
She slaved on her own and she skivvied on her own.
She'd two little girls and two little boys
And she lived all alone with her husband.

For her husband he was a hunk of a man,
A chunk of a man and a drunk of a man.
He was a hunk of a drunk and skunk of a man,
Such a boozing bruising husband.

For he would come home drunk each night;
He thrashed her black and he thrashed her white.
He thrashed her too within an inch of her life.
Then he slept like a log, did her husband.

One night she gathered her tears all round her shame;
She thought of the bruising and cried with the pain.
“Oh you'll not do that ever again.
I won't live with a drunken husband.”

Her husband came home drunk each night
And he thrashed her black and he thrashed her white;
He thrashed her too within an inch of her life,
And then he slept like a log, did her husband.

But as he lay and snored in bed
A strange old thought came into her head.
She went for the needle, went for the thread,
And went straight in to her sleeping husband.

As he lay and snored in bed
A strange idea came into her head:
She went for the needle and she went for the thread,
Straight to her sleeping husband.

And she started to stitch with a girlish thrill,
With a woman's heart and a seamstress' skill.
She bibbed and tucked with an iron will
All around her sleeping husband.

Oh the top sheet, the bottom sheet too,
The blanket stitched to the mattress through.
She stitched and stitched for the whole night through;
Then she waited till dawn on her husband.

She started to stitch with a girlish thrill,
With a woman's heart and a seamstress' skill;
She pinned and tucked with an iron will
Around her sleeping husband.

And when her husband awoke with a pain in his head
He found that he could not move in bed.
“Sweet Christ, I've lost the use of me legs!”
But this wife just smiled at her husband.

For in her hand she held the frying pan;
With a flutter in her heart she given him a lam.
He could not move but he cried: “God damn!”
“Don't you swear,” she cries to her husband.

Husband awoke with a pain in his head,
And found he could not move in bed.
“Sweet Christ, I've lost the use of me legs.”
Wife just smiled at her husband.

And then she thrashed him black, she thrashed him blue,
With the frying pan and the colander too.
With the rolling pin, just a stroke or two,
Such a battered and bleeding husband.

And she says, “If you ever come home drunk any more
I'll stitch you in, I'll thrash you more.
Then I'll pack my bag and I'll be out the door.
I'll not live with a drunken husband!”

She thrashed him black, she thrashed him blue,
With the frying pan and the colander too.
With the rolling pin, just a stroke or two,
A battered and bleeding husband.

Oh isn't it true what small can do
With a thread and a thought and a stitch or two.
He's wiped his slate and his boozing's through,
It's goodbye to a drunken husband.

Isn't it true what small can do
With a thread and a stitch and a thought or two.
He's wiped his slate, his boozing's through,
Goodbye to a drunken husband.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the Mudcat Café. A couple of small changes were made by Garry Gillard.