Boston Harbour


Another  fo’c’sle song, or forebitter, at least according to Bert Lloyd in his notes for the Watersons’ version and Jon says, “From the great Mike Waterson. A Watersons’ classic.” As you’ll seee from this Mainly Norfolk link it’s also on Spiers & Bodens Through And Through, where the sleeve note praise it’s anti-authority stance. Mudcat here throws doubt on the ‘sailor as author’ theory as apparently some of the detail is wrong. Perhaps one of the nautically informed can throw more light here again. Still that’s a couple of seafaring greats over the last few days.



19 Responses to “Boston Harbour”

  1. Phil says:

    Great stuff!

  2. muzza says:

    Some argue “What’s Folk”…….others argue “What’s Rope”……..we are a funny lot.
    Good old social singing song ……and the chorus is not too challenging for late-nighters.

  3. Tevor Kelly says:

    Ring tail sail is a small quadrilateral sail set by a boom and gaff over the stern, also known as a driver, ( Falconers dictionary of the marine 1815), song is correct, but not hoisted in heavy wind.
    Rope and lines; in old parlance lines are small e.g lead line, heaving line. Rope is as we know it today consisting of strands twisted together. Confusion arises due to modern use of terms headline stern lines etc.

  4. Shelley says:

    Love this song, and it has one of those choruses that wheedles its way into your brain and refuses to go away, even when you’re not quite sure what the words are.

  5. Tobysails says:

    I’ve never come across a ringtail at sea, but a driver or spanker is a fore and aft gaff sail rigged on the mizzen mast. It’s main purpose is to balance the rig so that the ship is easier to steer. If the sails are perfectly balanced it is possible to steer without touching the wheel.
    I was often told that the only rope on a sailing ship was the bell rope. All the others are named by their purpose — sheets, halliards, bunt lines etc. When a square rig ship sets sail leaving harbour every one of the lines must be coiled carefully so that they are instantly available for use.
    Enough of the geeky sailing stuff.
    Great song – weel sung as always

  6. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Tobysails, I like the geeky sailing stuff, being as far from any sea as it’s possible to be in this country, the mid-point of everywhere, and needing to have a smattering of understanding for sea-songs. So thankee!

    Loved the way you sang the song, Jon. You can certainly deliver these fo’c’sle songs and shanties!

  7. Brian says:

    @Jane. So where is the place in England that is the furthest from the sea? I suspect that there is not a unique answer to that question. However you may well be the person in this country with twelve cats furthest from the sea.

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Brian. The cats will be further from the sea than I am on account of their shorter legs. Interesting that you should mention them in this context, Brian! Bradford-not-by-the-sea was once the venue for the country’s premier small livestock show.

    Fur & Feather magazine – I jest not! – was first published in 1890 by Watmoughs in Idle, Bradford, and is still in existence today. It published a regular page on mice (and sometimes rats!) for many years, and is now the only monthly magazine for breeders and keepers of rabbits and rodents.

    Mr JE Watmough (the then-editor of Fur and Feather) launched the first Bradford Championship Show in 1921. It still takes place each January and was originally held at the Manning Barracks in Bradford before moving to Harrogate, then Doncaster, and more recently back to Harrogate again. My cats live in hope that it will one day return to its roots…

  9. Diana says:

    These great songs just keep coming. Love those old sailing ships!

  10. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    One of the great shanties this, and it paints such a graphic picture. The much feared old Captain makes his appearance on deck for inspection, stomps around and puts some stick about, then disappears down below again, for a warming tot, leaving the crew muttering about what they would like to do to him.
    I did not think anyone could better Mike Waterson at this but, shiver me timbers, Jon gets damned close me Hearties !

  11. Linda says:

    love this version.

  12. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Well sung by Jon as usual
    Loved the info from Trevor and Toby…..must let go of my shank painter and cat stopper and haul up my clew garnetsand rant and roar at some Spanish ladies like a true British sailor!
    Another chorus designed for raucous,drunken murmurings by we plebs that can’t remember words …….seems a shame to waste lines.
    I think I’ll learn this one but change chorus to something like:-…
    ‘Oh he talks big now-standing on the bow/We’d fix him good if we had our way’
    Don’t panic Mr. Mannering………I’m sure the original ‘fol de rol’ chorus will survive!

  13. Diana says:

    A great version Jon. Love these ahanties.

    Muzza you have rather a lot to say today. And pray tell me what is wrong with the “fol de rol” part then?

  14. Linda says:

    Catching up after a holiday in Devon. Still love this one [yes Muzza it’s another sailor song]
    @Diana Not long now, saw on the Bellowhead site the start time has been moved forward 15mins at the Lowry.

  15. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Diana….just re-read the notes and blow me down………..the ‘fol de rol’ was pinched from a Victorian music hall song…..
    have these traditional words and tunes people no shame!

  16. Diana says:

    @Linda: Just got the same notice – so we may meet a little sooner than expected. Not long now!

    Muzza, there it pays to re-read sometimes does it not? Folks will pinch half a brick if it is not nailed down so that will justify the “fol de rol” won’t it? No shame at all.

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    Morning Muzza! I am presuming you are paddling your lone canoe here today – except you ain’t, ‘cos I am also here! – which is the day afore my birthday, so you still have time to get mi flowers of the forest! And if you looked at the RSS feed below, you would note I have acknowledged your Muzzical offerings in earlier posts, notably under Doffin’ Mistress (natch!) and before that under Good Ol’ Way. Pay attention, Young Muzza!

    I agree with you re the Islington comp entries I have listened to so far and the Shoals of Herrin’ man has a terrific voice. I still have not had time to listen to your no doubt superb offering due to cat-fettling. I do not normally do kittens, but I have one now and it is doing mi head in! Roll on re-homing! More anon…

  18. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Janey,Janey,Janey………… I was hoping to surprise you by remembering your **th birthday tomorra and you pop up on AFSAD…….I religiously check all comments but haven’t got the hang of how to get them posted for my attention…I thought I had to click on Rss feed……will now creep back and check Doff,Doff,Doff.
    Similarly….to get to each days song……I click AFSAD and it always opens on a September song….I then have to select Archives……and November…then comments….and then click back to the relevant day……………there must be a quicker way…hopefully.
    Anyway……….I do hope that you can retire from Catfettlin’ soon and pass the baton on.
    Have a great day tomorrow…….
    Ps:…did I leave a sock at your place?

  19. OldMuzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    Just referring back to Jane’s mention in 2011 of the Bradford based magazine ‘Fur & was from an advert in that mag , way back when I were a lad in the 50s, that I bought some of the first golden hamsters in the UK, that had been imported and subsequently bred by entrepreneur ..Percy Parslow….they were magnificently marked ..golden coats, black eyes….now they come in all colours!

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