Tha’ Lowks A Proper Swell Lass


Jon reminisces, “I spent many years asking every singer I met it they knew ‘The Fish And Chip Song’ after hearing it many times at the Colpitts in Durham sung by John from Derbyshire. Eventually, I heard it by chance sitting in Fay’s student house with a Keith Kendrick CD on in the background. The poem was written partly as a celebration of Derbyshire dialect so I am on very shaky ground bastardising the language and what with my southern pronunciation…  It’s still such a beautiful song regardless, I really feel it needs to be sung and if you can’t pull the original off (no chance for me) then an RP version will have to do. Please check out Keith’s original Derbyshire version though, I think it’s on Home Ground on Fellside.” I can confirm the CD, which is still available on Fellside and very good it is too. Keith accompanies himself on English concertina on his version and in the CD booklet describes it as “Originally a poem written along similar lines to the theme of Where Do You Go To MY Lovely? By Peter Sarstedt, but much earlier (early fifties I think) reflecting life in the mining towns of North East Derbyshire by one Lal Wood. The tune was added later by dialect historian and dear old buddy, the late Richard Scollins.” This is another case where Jon’s guitar and vocal delivery seem to get to the core of the wistful sadness at the heart of the song that acquires a new and genuine tenderness , which quite brought a lump to my throat. I can imagine this performance creating pin drop silence and… “Yes of course I’m alright, I’ve just got something in my eye.”

The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:


21 Responses to “Tha’ Lowks A Proper Swell Lass”

  1. Julia Taylor says:

    I’ve listened to this song early, early on a morning before I go away for a while. This song, so touching in its homely simplicity, has made me feel quite homesick. Have you heard of a song called ‘Sally Weekly’ Jon? It hails from the North East, I think, and moves around a similar theme.

  2. Carole Garland says:

    You do these kinds of songs so well Jon, and I am always delighted with just the right amount of accompaniment. Another of these “lumpy throat” songs is Rosemary’s Sister. Do you think you could look at that one, please.

  3. Jane Ramsden says:

    That’s cracking! I had to think twice about the title. At first I thought it meant ‘you look a proper swell lass’ similar to the Yorkshire expression ‘she’s a right grand lass’. Then I realised it means ‘you look a proper swell, lass’ as in Burlington Bertie’s ‘We’re a couple of swells.’ Hahahahaha! The guitar hugely enhances the poignancy of this song to my ears.

  4. I agree, it’s a superb song. Julia, the song you were referring to is ‘Sally Wheatley’, another excellent, rather winsome, song by the famous Geordie writer Joe Wilson.

  5. Simon Dewsbury says:

    … “Yes of course I’m alright, I’ve just got something in my eye.” No, not me, I just need to clean my glasses for some reason. Another wonderful song I’d never heard before.

  6. Alan Rosevear says:

    This is also on The Derby Ram (me mam gev it me as a tape but a’v got’th CD now) issued by Steel Carpet Music 2001 and still available from Keith Kendrick. It’s a song that reminds me of people I knew back there so I’ll try to learn it and see if I can still slip into the accent after 40 years away; – though it still works well enough with Jon’s RP – thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Jon Boden says:

    I do like Sally Wheatley and have considered learning it. Problem is if you southernise the chorus is doesn’t really rhyme or scan… RP proof!

  8. edith lewis says:

    It is so great to be listening to all these wonderful songs again.

  9. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    I can’t believe I didn’t comment on this last year…….perhaps it would have been too repetitve to say….”Excellent” day after day…enchanting song/performance/guitar.
    and I had a girl friend that married into wealth…………when she could have shared poverty with ME!..
    we are still in touch ………unfortunately,she is now in such poor health, I can’t offer fish and chips.

  10. Rosie says:

    Beautifully sung, glad that I heard it second time round.

  11. judith says:

    perhaps you would like to try Les Barker’s take on Sally Wheatley.
    You can get away with a southern accent in that one[nearly], but its a lasses song!
    Makes it a quadrilateral not a triangle.

  12. Diana says:

    You did a grand job on that song Jon. Us southerners never completely lose that southern sound. Up north people think we come from the south and down south it is vice versa – must live in no man’s land eh?

  13. […] Here Fay discusses and sings a Derbyshire folk song she first heard performed by Keith Hendrick. Fay’s partner, Jon Boden, has also recorded this number as part of his ‘A Folk Song in a Day’ project. His thoughts on the song can be found via this link. […]

  14. Y says:

    Good memories from the Elm tree and Half Moon.

    Thank you.

  15. Linda says:

    Love the guitar on this..

  16. old Muzza (NW Surrey) says:

    Love it….love it!

  17. Linda says:

    Second that Muzza….

  18. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    So true…brought tears to my eyes ref my comment in 2011…….this will always remind me of her….and she lost the battle in October 2016.

  19. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Ooooer………heart wrench time yet again……I know that everybody has songs that bring back such memories

  20. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Ref my comments 2011/2020/2021……Oooooer ……listening to this song is like an annual pilgrimage……and the young lady to whom I refer was so sweet and never snooty.

  21. Old Muzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    Here I am again with my hypothetical bunch of flowers….seems I have claimed this one as a personal memory lane and tribute…it is such a poignant song though and I’ll bet others have had similar lost loves…..and mine was 64 years ago!

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