RSS Feed

#SeptemberSongs Day 29 – Rigs of the times

another great song this. I learned it from Bellowhead’s simply spectacular version on their ‘Burlesque’ CD.

‘Rigs’ in this song means cheats or lies and the song talks about some of the dishonest practices going on at the time (more info).

The only problem is that the ‘Rigs of the times’ in the song are not really relevant any more so, as well as the original, I’ve recorded an updated version with some new takes on those old problems.


Lyrics: from memory
Takes: 1 each

Old version:

Download: 29 Rigs of the times (old)

New version:

Download: 29 Rigs of the times (new)


Those industrial bakers I must bring them in
Pack their bread full of chemicals and think it no sin
“Baked fresh on the premises”, that’s what they say
when it was made in a factory hours away
Honesty’s all out of fashion
These are the rigs of the times, times my boys
These are the rigs of the times.

Those big supermarkets I must bring them in
Selling horse meat as beef and they’ll think it no sin
Fill their bacon with water, their sausages with rind
If it makes them more money they really don’t mind
Honesty’s all out of fashion…

Here’s to the ad-men who sell us their lies
And to the loan sharks who gather like flies
if their profits get bigger they really don’t care
It’s no wonder we’ve reason to curse and to swear
Honesty’s all out of fashion…

The simplest solution the people could find
Was to scoop them all up in a strong gale of wind
And the winds they will blow and the clouds they will burst
And the biggest old rascal come tumbling down first
Honesty’s all out of fashion…

An open letter to my MEPs

Dear Anthea McIntyre, Jill Seymour, James Carver, Bill Etheridge, Philip Bradbourn, Neena Gill and Siôn Simon,

I am writing to you about the proposed appointment of Karmenu Vella as the Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime affairs and fisheries, the hearing for which is tomorrow, Monday 29th.

I am extremely concerned about Mr Vella’s suitability for the post given his role in the Maltese government with its appalling track record of failing to meet its environmental legislation responsibility.

One very serious concern is their refusal to implement the EU birds directive and to crack down on illegal hunting of migrating birds, which is having a devastating impact on population numbers for many species.

Given his strong ties to the Maltese government I remain unconvinced that Mr Vella will be able to set aside these vested national interests and act impartially as environment commissioner.

I would strongly urge you to take these issues into consideration and unless you are completely satisfied that Mr Vella will indeed act to defend and strengthen existing environmental legislation then please vote to reject his nomination

Yours sincerely,

Reverend Richard Clarkson

More details and information in how to contact your MEP at

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I recieved a very encouraging response this morning from Siôn Simon, a Labour MEP, which is copied below:

Dear Richard,
Thank you for your email regarding the nomination of Karmenu Vella as Commissioner-designate for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
I, along with my MEP colleagues from the Socialist & Democrats group, share your concerns about the practice of bird hunting in Malta and can assure you that this issue will be raised by our group in the scrutiny hearing this afternoon that will take place in the European Parliament’s Environment committee with Mr Vella.
The EU, although falling short of where it should be, is a world-leader when it comes to environmental and wildlife protection. It would be very short-sighted if the proposed Commission were to row back on some of the protections in place.
We will use the forthcoming hearings of the Commissioners-Designate to put these concerns directly to them and to ensure that the new Commission upholds European environmental and wildlife protections and, furthermore, that it works to strengthen them and to build a proper transition to sustainable growth.
However, if confirmed as Commissioner, Mr Vella will not be representing the interests of Malta as the European Commission represents the interests of Europe as a whole (as opposed to the interests of individual countries). I, along with S&D colleagues, will use today’s hearing to ensure that the principle of independence is respected.
Yours sincerely,
Siôn Simon
Labour Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands


#SeptemberSongs Day 28 – The first nöel

Ok so I know this is a Christmas song but it’s SO good to this tune!  The tune is from the song ‘young banker’

I got this version from Jon Boden and arranged it for my college choir last Christmas.  It’s so much fun I couldn’t let this project go by without doing it.


Lyrics: from memory 
Takes: 1 (yes I know it should be ‘bought’ not ‘brought’ in the last verse but still…)

Download: 28 The first noel

#SeptemberSongs Day 27 – John Barleycorn

Last September I did a similar project on this blog, writing a post each day about all things bread for #SourdoughSeptember.  One of the things I’d hoped to do there but didn’t manage is blog a couple of bready folk songs and today’s song is one that I’d thought I might do.

I’ve spent much of the last year singing fragments of this song but had never got round to properly learning it until now. It’s another old old song with countless variations (more info) but the essence of the story is the death and, despite the efforts of the various farm workers, resurrection of ‘John Barleycorn’.


Lyrics: from memory
Takes: 2

Download: 27 John Barleycorn

#SeptemberSongs Day 26 – The bold hippopotamus

Another fun Friday song, this is a favourite with the boys.  I learned it one evening when I was doing bedtime with both boys and they were both absolutely exhausted (which is the best way to do bedtime!).  We all snuggled up on our big bed, I found the lyrics to this song and we kept on singing it and singing it and singing it until they both crashed out.  By the time we’d sung it 20 times I unsurprisingly had the words memorised!

Lyrics: From memory
Takes: 1

Download: 26 The bold hippopotamus

#SeptemberSongs Day 25 – On board a ninety-eight

A charming little song with a nice lyrical twist at the end as an old sailor looks looks back on his life at sea.

A ‘ninety-eight’ was a second rate ship of the line which had 98 guns over three decks (a first rate could have up to 120 guns).  A ship that big was like a floating town so you can understand his trepidation on first setting foot on board!


Lyrics: from memory

Download: 25 On board a ninety eight

#SeptemberSongs Day 24 – The land

This is probably my favourite of all the songs I’m doing this month, not least because of the sense of achievement at actually being able to sing all 4+ minutes of it!

It is another Rudyard Kipling/Peter Bellamy song (more info) which I got from Jon Boden.  It is a fantastic poem/song which I suppose it is a sort of satire/social commentary on the issue of land ownership, telling the story of one particular field and the family that have farmed it  through successive generations of ‘owners’.

Each section follows a similar pattern, with the landowner asking:

Hob, what about that River bit?

With the ‘Aged Hobden’ responding:

Have it just as you’ve a mind to but…

so that the landowner does exactly what Hobden wants!

The last section, where King George is the landowner, reveals the extent of this role-reversal with the king acknowledging that he and his ‘assigns, executors and heirs’ are guaranteed

All sorts of powers and profits which are neither mine nor theirs.

He then goes on to sanction Hobden’s flagrant poaching on the grounds that

his dead are in the churchyard, 40 generations laid
And his name was old in history when domesday book was made
And the passion and the piety and prowess of his line
Have seeded, rooted, fruited in this land the law calls mine

Finally he joins the long line of landowners in his dependence on Hobden’s wisdom:

“Hob, what about that River bit”, I turn to him again
With Fabricius and Ogier and William of Warenne
“Have it just as you’ve a mind to but…” And here he takes command
For whoever pays the taxes old mus’ Hobden owns the land.”



Lyrics: From memory
Takes: 1!

Download: 24 The land


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,035 other followers