I WAS BROUGHT UP with the Midgley Family Songs. I thought that even now, many in the Greater Family would know them. It came as a considerable shock when I found out this just ain’t so.
In fact, as it turns out, I’m probably the only person left in the whole wide world who has experienced ‘Sweet Daisy Thorn’, ‘Mickey Malone’, ‘Me Father Bought A Hen-Run’ and ‘My Artificial Rosie’ in their proper setting (that is, during times of ritual family inebriation).
Back then, the ability to perform them flawlessly and at the drop of a hat was virtually a rite of passage.
THESE SONGS WERE ALWAYS attributed to my grandfather, Walt Midgley (born 1879 in Armley, Leeds, England), but I've no way of knowing whether he really was their true originator. That said, they certainly are Victorian in origin.
They were trotted out at every family party, and conditions had to be right.
First, they were done a capella. No musical accompaniment was allowed (even though Auntie Jess played the piano, constantly, by ear and with enthusiasm).
Second, a pint of beer or a tumbler of whisky had to be clutched firmly in the right hand. This was not to be the first pint, nor the first tumbler.
Finally, non-Midgley guests were expected to join in with gusto (even though they looked and felt like politicians coping with a foreign national anthem).
Oh, how we all laughed. But as a family we were always sympathetic, and NEVER patronising. After all, we knew they couldn’t help not being Midgleys.
I CAN KEEP YOU ON TENTERHOOKS, but you’ve waited long enough.
Just click on the song titles to hear a RealAudio streaming download. (You can't say that in Yorkshire, by the way - they'd misunderstand!)
Dedicated with love and fond memories to Big Walt himself, Aunts Alice, Stella, Ethel and Jess, Uncle Walter and my father, these are
THE MIDGLEY FAMILY SONGS
Sweet Daisy Thorn Sweet Daisy Thorn was a maid kind and true, With bonnie eyes of blue. She stammered whenever to Reuben she spoke And Reuben, he thought it a joke! He’d say "How’s your ma-ma-ma-ma-mama tonight?" She’d say "V-v-very well thank you, sh-sh-she’s all right." And a terrible frown on her face you could trace - She’d say "G-g-go away or I’ll s-slap your f-face!" He vowed he’d cross the deep blue sea And she said "You can g-g-g-g-go!" He said "When I’m gone, will you think of me?" She said "N-n-n-n-n-n-n-no!" He said "You’ll regret my love you have spurned", And she said "N-n-n-n-n-n-not I!" He said "Very well, I shall never return", So she said "G-g-g-g-g-g-goodbye!" ---0---0---0---0---0--- Mickey Malone Now Mick Malone was a nice young man, And he married sweet Mary-Ann Cass. The very first night in their new house Was an awful smell of gas. Mickey rushed downstairs to find the escape And he shouted with all his might "Come down, Mary-Ann, as fast as you can And bring a candlelight!" He’s climbing up the Golden Stair, He’s climbing up the Golden Stair. Mickey must have been an ass to search for gas With a lighted candle there. For the gas was over-proof, And it blew him through the roof. Like a rocket he sailed through the air. And he hasn’t yet come down - If he has, he can’t be found. He’s climbing up the Golden Stair! ---0---0---0---0---0--- Me Father Bought A Hen-Run Me father bought a hen-run, Full of poul-te-ry. He thought he’d try his luck So he went and bought a duck And he sat it on a turkey egg. A little boy at midnight Took the egg away, And underneath the duck Something else he stuck And it took her down a peg, For the old duck said As she waddled round the yard, "I think it’s just a little bit too hard ’Cos I can hatch a turkey, I can hatch a chick, But I’ll be blessed if I can Hatch a half a brick ’Cos it’s a bit bit bit too hard!" ---0---0---0---0---0--- My Artificial Rosie My artificial Rosie, my artificial Rose. She took off her cardboard nose, Screwed off her leg when she went to repose. Out came the false teeth And the hair from over her head. There was half of my Rose on the table And the other half in bed. ---0---0---0---0---0---
TASTELESS LITTLE THINGS, aren’t they? And the tunes are so - subtle!
If you'd like the Songs as mp3 files (so you and yours can really give them voice, and thus properly annoy friends and neighbours in Yorkshire, Arizona, Tasmania or wherever), just e-mail me. I’ll be happy to send copies of Walt’s masterpieces tout suite.
All you need to run them is Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, which you probably already have hidden away somewhere in your box of tricks.
Short but sweet, the Midgley Family Songs are a true part of Yorkshire’s oral hygiene. And surely, there can be no greater honour than that.
Now it’s over to you …
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