Bungay Roger


Jon says, ”I am of the view that it’s better to bastardise a good dialect song than to not sing it at all. This is a bizarre Norfolk music-hall number done in full Norfolk dress by Bellamy. This is a pale imitation but good fun to sing nonetheless.”

Again somewhat self effacing from Jon and I don’t have Peter’s version at hand to compare, but as you’d expect Mainly Norfolk covers the Bellamy angle and notes that this was one of the most collected songs in East Anglia. It’s also known as Mudley Barracks as this Mudcat thread makes clear. There’s an interesting post half way down as this shares much in common in sentiment  with The Awkward Recruit, which is  of course done by Mawkin:Causley on their album of the same name. The suggestion is that this is a direct descendent, which makes sense as it’s a sort of simplified and more obviously comic take on the lot of the disgruntled soldier, although shares a desire to be back on the farm. The Awkward Recruit is much more a soldiers’ song, however, and actually ends quite heroically.
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30 Responses to “Bungay Roger”

  1. Matthew Edwards says:

    Cor blast! says I – I’ve been singing this song for a few years without finding much competition, so now I’ll have to learn something new. 🙂

    Well sung anyway, Jon!

    I’ve added some more information to the Mudcat thread; I do hope somebody else will come along and post there as well.


  2. John says:

    I’d second that….well sung, Jon. I’m a Norfolk man and it sounds fine to me. Oh, and on a pedantic point: Bungay is actually in Suffolk, just south of the Norfolk border.

  3. Neil says:

    Cor t’hell boy.

    This feller reckon that Bung’y’s in Norfolk now.
    S’rum old dew.

  4. Simon says:

    Actually the wife’s from Norfolk, so misplacing Bungay would be unforgiveable. It’s just where the song seems to have been collected and performed. Yarmouth would perhaps suggest itself for music halls, I suppose Norwich too and both are much closer to Bungay than any major Suffolk towns except Lowestoft, Which I’d have a fishing port back then. But if anyone knows the local history of said establishments I’d like to know.

  5. Jan says:

    I haven’t looked at the Mudcat thread yet, but this seems a lot like The Kerry Recruit to me.

  6. Peter Walsh says:

    Well spotted Jan. Had a quick listen to The Dubliners doing The Kerry Recruit and the lyrics differ of course, but you may be onto something there.

  7. Jan says:

    I learned it from the Crofters, who always used to say that where we have Irish jokes, the Irish have jokes about Kerry men – don’t know if it’s true!

    About five years ago I was digging my land
    With my brogues on my feet and my spade in my hand
    The sergeant comes up, he asks me to enlist
    Says I, righto sergeant, stick a bob in my fist
    With my kerry-i-o and fa ral de ral day
    Kerry-i-o and fa ral de ral day

    He said, here’s a shilling and I’ve got no more
    When we get to the camp you’ll be quartered for sure
    Well sergeant, says I, you know it’s a lie
    You don’t want to be quartered and neither do I!

    Well the first thing they gave me it was a red coat
    With a wide strap of leatherto tie round my throat
    They gave me a queer thing, I asked them what’s that
    They told me it was a cockade for my hat

    Well the next thing they gave me, they called it a gun
    With a place for my finger and one for my thumb
    well first she spat fire and then she spat smoke
    Then she gave a great blow that my shoulder near broke

    Well the next thing they gave me, they called it a horse
    With a leg at each corner, some two feet across
    I lifted my boot and I gave her the steel
    And the bugger she upped and she showed me her heels

    Now the first place they took us was down to the quay
    All aboard of a big ship bound for the Crimee
    Three sticks in the middle all wrapped up in sheets
    And she walks on the water without any feet

    Then the general comes up, he’s a man of great fame
    He asks me my country, so I tells him my name
    I told him before, and I’ll tell him again
    My father and mother were two Kerrymen

    Well my five years are up and I’m glad it’s not ten
    I’ll go back to Tralee and dig praties again
    I’ll butter my brogues, shake hands with my spade
    For I reckon this fighting’s a bloody bad trade!

    Some differences in tune and lyrics, but the same theme – it’s not much fun being a soldier!

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

    @Jan…………..love the lyrics.above…..in absence of the tune…..
    “The Muckspreader tune” fits..and perhaps make more of a chorus..i.e
    “Bring the beer,shed a tear,
    I’m off to the army for many a year.”……………….Another for me to learn.!

  9. Jan says:

    Yes, that would work well – the Crofters’ tune is just the same two lines repeated and can get a bit wearing if not done really briskly. Can’t find the Dubliners version to compare. I do hope you learn it!

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    I like a song with a bit of swearing in! I can’t imagine why… except my nickname as a child was Jer Bugs or Buggins, short for Jane B*ggerlugs, I think… I wonder what sort of child I was… Hahahahahaha!

    Nicely swings along, this one, Jon! Compliment to you that I am getting a picture of what seeing and hearing Bellamy live must have been like, based on comparison with a previous YouTube interview by him I posted on here once.

  11. Janaye says:

    You’re a real deep thinker. Thanks for shrinag.

  12. muzza (N.W Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane…”The two magicians”…….I reckon you can match them for “shapeshifting”..i.e
    Tedd/Jer Bugs/Buggins/b*ggerlugs/catwoman/feral catmolester…..
    and Janaye ABOVE thanks you for “Shrinag”
    I await your explaNATION WITH INTEREST!

  13. Diana says:

    I don’t think this song would have made half the impact without the swearing. It is how the soldier would have related to his life, the change from being on the farm and suddenly being under so many regulations. I bet Jon felt better when he finished singing.

    @Tedd: Loved your nicknames, mine at school was very much down to earth – Skippy. Related to my surname not because I was always skipping around I must add.

  14. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    Catching up after a hectic week and really enjoyed this one.
    With all the buggering here and buggering there, you can understand why his name is Roger.

  15. Diana says:

    Got it! Very smart John – there being another meaning for roger.

  16. Tedd O'Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: There is no conclusive evidence that the deep-thinking comment or ‘shrinag’ was actually directed at me. So I have no explanation… If not just a shape-shifTed spelling, I think ‘shrinag’ may be a form of ursine transcendental meditation… or an ancient Celtic horse-whisperer’s word…

  17. muzza (N.W Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane………..I am adopting “grown-up mode” for a moment ………..and I suggest that Janaye(above) might just have had a touch of “Skippy/Pewter fever” and mean’t to type…thanks for SHARING!…..
    Just how close to the horse and whisperer must one have to be to overhear the “whisper”…’Shrinag’…..and what did the horse do next I ask myself…..
    I might try it on the next lady to whom I have a chance to whisper!

  18. Shrinag Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Yes, I realised that, which is why I wrote ‘shape-shifted spelling’ Doh!

    I suggest if you are that close to the aforementioned young lady, you whisper it very, very softly… without the ‘rin’… Oh, wash my mouth out with soap! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  19. muzza (N.W Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane……between us we lower the tone of this excellent site….Admin Simon is probably poised to wield the blue pencil or the Blue Screen of D on us……but it is soooo tempting to be cheeky…and Forgive me- I completely missed your shapeshifting spelling observation…I should know better.

  20. Blue Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: For a moment, I thought I must be losing my touch… but I see not… hahahahahaha! I think we have some latitude with the earthy innuendo, as so folk-relaTed, providing we are not very explicit or, more importantly, directly insulting anyone. I will get a grip of missen though… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  21. Jan says:

    So, Muzza, did you ever get round to learning the Kerry Recruit as posted above – I believe you mentioned the Muckspreader tune?

  22. Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jan…this old song coming round again reminded me and I ammended verse5 and printed it off and WILL learn it:-The steel spurs bit was a tad macho

    Well the next thing he gave me, he called it a horse
    With a leg at each corner, some two feet across
    I lifted my boot swung me other leg over
    Ended flat on my back with a gob full of clover

  23. Jan says:

    I like it! Look forward to it on YouTube.

  24. Allan says:

    Bungay Roger is actually a name for a breeze!

  25. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Allan…………any further links as to the ‘Breeze’ aspect ……I can’t find any info on it (aspect- what you get if you bend over in a hen coop)

  26. OldMuzza NWSurrey UK says:

    still haven’t learned the Jan version and time running out for this old fella

  27. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Nope….good as it is…..still not learned it and as morris dancing and all that pub singing apres morris stuff out of the question for the past (and forthcoming) year…. no motivation!

  28. Timothy Garwood says:

    A little roger is the name for a small whirlwind in Norfolk. They pick up dust and small debris spinning them and eventually dying out. Seen in the summer in our glorious county

  29. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Whoah Timothy…..thanks for the further information…….. and that follows on from Allan’s comment.
    Ha…..suggest you use the word ‘roger’ with care when stepping outside your glorious county boundaries!

  30. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Oh I do enjoy this one
    Still blooming cold ‘darn souf’ but no snow yet…Please, Please Spring …..promise you’ll be just around the corner!

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