Sister Josephine


Jon recalls “Jake Thackray was a revered personage at the Colpitts hotel sessions in Durham. This was sung regularly by a gentleman called Winston (I think) who also had a great self-penned number about taking up jogging at the age of 75 (his age) in order to meet girls. Quite a character.”

I can’t speak for Winston, nor really for Jake Thackray although the latter is at least someone I’ve heard and his voice is instantly memorable and recognisable. I guess my exposure would probably have been limited to the odd TV appearance or Radio 2 play during my youth, as I’ve never owned anything by him. I can’t help but feel that’s probably a mistake on my part, however, as this one certainly raised a smile and there is sufficient stuff on YouTube, several I note that Jake himself introduces as “offensive”, to suggest it’s something to rectify. Perhaps I’m too easily swayed, but I love his lugubrious, deadpan delivery with a facial expression that seems to perpetually hover between quizzical and distaste. Another English one-off, in this case, however, modelled on the French chansonnier tradition. I’ll give you this link for all things Thackray, although we may need to be patient with the navigation as it’s a bit prone to error messages. Keep trying and the pages generally load OK. Of course Wiki gives the overview and is also reasonably interesting.



38 Responses to “Sister Josephine”

  1. Shelley says:

    Wonderful stuff! Jake Thackray was a genius!

  2. Jane Ramsden says:

    Robbie Coltrane (my sex god) in Nuns On The Run? Hahahahahaha!

    Thanks for the laugh, Jon! A differently entertaining choice!

  3. Phil says:

    A propos of nothing much, here’s my top 20 AFSADs to date, in roughly ascending order (very hard to choose among the top 5 or 6).

    Boston Harbour
    Mary Ann
    Maria’s gone
    Willie’s lady
    Turtle dove
    Ca’ the ewes
    Child Morris
    Lord Bateman
    Frankie’s Trade
    Over the hills and far away (live version)
    Tam Lin
    Days gone by
    John Ball
    Tom Padget
    Unfortunate Lass
    Bill Brown
    Westlin Wind
    Queen Jane lay in labour
    One night as I lay in my bed

    I think that’s 13 unaccompanied, 5 with box & 2 with fiddle; also, 15 trad., 2 Burns, 1 Kipling, 1 Sidney Carter and 1 J. Boden (well played sir).

    Anyone who hasn’t done so already really has to hear this version of Frankie’s Trade. The rest of the album is pretty damn good, too.

  4. Iggy says:

    Splendid. Can we have ‘The Cactus’ too…

  5. John Burton says:

    The Frankie’s Trade link is not working for me.

  6. Phil says:

    Oops, sorry. This should work: Frankie’s Trade.

  7. Hatman says:

    As a student in about 1982 Jake came to play the folk club, which at the time I was not that interested in. a friend of mine said
    “We should try and see this bloke,he’s supposed to be much better than you’d think from the telly.”
    We tried to sneak in because we had already spent our money on beer but the bloke on the door, quite rightly, was having none of our excuses. What we didn’t know, as my mate was launching in to a final round of pleading, was that Jake was waiting to get through the door behind us and told the the doorman to let us in. I now wish i hadn’t had so much beer but, as after all the best comedians when you know you have laughed and been on a journey but you can’t remember any particular thing, so it was that night. I regret not putting my hand in my pocket but appreciated his generousity and the look of pain on the face of the bloke on the door!

  8. Joe Caprani says:

    Ah Jake! What a wonderful, wonderful man. So sorry I did not ever get to hear him live – I only learned of him late on, but I’m proud to be part of the on-line community that finally got much of his material transferred to CD. I’m looking forward to singing Sr Josephine in the not too distant future as part of the evening chillout sessions of a Jesuit retreat in Spain! And if I get down to it I might brush up that Richard Digence number “drag queen blues” for the same session (God bless the “Folk Song Collection”!)

  9. Neil says:

    I can’t be the only one thinking that ‘Castleford Ladies Magic Circle’ would make an excellent Bellowhead number can I?

  10. Gervase Webb says:

    Ouch! As someone who loves Jon’s treatments of non trad stuff (Innocent When You Dream is a gem), and who also loves Jake’s material, this one simply doesn’t work for me.
    It really needs the Thackray lugubriousness and gallic rhythm to come across well, and the unaccompanied English treatment kills it stone dead.
    Sorry chaps!
    That said, I have heard Brother Gorilla done well, but I was rat-arsed at Towersey at the time.

  11. Jane Ramsden says:

    Still makes me laugh!

    But if you want another “lugubrious, deadpan delivery with a facial expression that seems to perpetually hover between quizzical and distaste” in the French chansonnier tradition, meet Henri…

    Now that’s ennui!

  12. Reynard says:

    Tres bien, Jeannette!

    You can find Jake Thackray singing Sister Josephine on YouTube; it’s linked via my website too.

  13. S HolmesEsq(Baker Street) says:

    @Jane………….Always loved Jake’s song (Jon also has a lugubrious, deadpan face,bless him – don’t worry…he wont see that!)………and now I have been introduced, by yourgoodself, to the wonderfully,haughty Henri….gave me my Wednesday morning laugh….especially the end.
    I was feeling a bit down as my lady companion is not happy that I’m taking my binoculars to the Woking theatre to see “Calendar Girls” this wet afternoon.

  14. muzza(N.W.Surrey,UK) says:

    @Holmes….I should think not you scoundrel…
    I thought she was coming to the theatre with Me!…..another senior moment!

  15. Diana says:

    Have already met Henri – the poor pathetic little creature – so bored. As for Holmes I left a reply to his terrible joke last night.

    As for Jon I picked this version up some time ago but do remember Jake Thrackray singing it in his own inimitable style but Jon does a damned fine job too.

    Thanks for the tip Reynard – I shall certainly take a peek.

  16. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    I really enjoyed that. I wish I had taken more notice of Jake Thackray years ago when he was touring the clubs, but there was so much to see and hear and you could not take it all in.
    Diana, relatives of your chum Reynardine have been causing trouble round hear. The other evening our neighbours discovered the bloody slaughter of their small flock of laying hens. They were a bit late getting to shut them in, and that was all the time he needed. Can’t blame Reynardine, it is just in his nature. Such a beautiful creature, and yet so cruel, you can see how all the myths and legends have grown up around him.

  17. Diana says:

    John the fox has been missing from my life since the other day unless he is a nocturnal creature again, but I have not heard him barking during the night. I do like to see the various ones who slip through the garden. Like you say they are beautiful creatures but cruel but they have to eat too, and us humans aren’t really much different are we? Still I do sympathise with the neighbour who lost all his hens, it must have been a real blow.

  18. Diana says:

    @Reynard: are your ears burning because there has been much discussion about you in your various guises.

  19. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Lady companion? Ted is gutted! Henri and I are now as one…

  20. Diana says:

    @Jane aren’t men fickle? To add insult to injury – he is taking binoculars to the show. Really!!!! Mind you I don’t think they will help as everything was statigically placed and done in “the best possible taste”. Memories of Kenny E.

  21. Linda says:

    @Diana glad you enjoyed Sheffield. Have just been catching up have been off line since last Thursday, needed a new modem. Noticed on Sky Arts 2 Legends; Jacques Brei; Ne Me Quitte Pas, missed the first showing and dvd failed, caught the second showing but had to go out and missed the last ten minutes.[no doudt it will be on again] Loved Sister Josephine always raises a chuckle.

  22. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Diana: I know… always the bridesmaid, never the bride… *sighs*

  23. John Bryson says:

    Can I give a plug on here to a tribute act? Not normally my scene, but John Watterson aka Fake Thakray is excellent. First saw him at Stortfolk (Bishop’s Stortford) early last year, and again supporting Fairport Convention in February this year, plus he’s at Cropredy in August. I confess I couldn’t get into the Thakray material when I was younger, but John does a great show and hje opened my eyes and ears to this material.
    He told me (namedrop here!) after the Leicester show that the clubs are his preferred venue, so if you get a chance to catch him I feel it’s worth it.
    Turning at last (!) to Jon’s material, I think some of the April material is super, and I recall from previous years that there is also great material in May (May Song on May 1st is, for me, a classic, and lovely to sing).
    I have’t been on here for a while, with all that’s been going on, but I now reside in the hunting shire of Leicestershire, and I’m discovering loads of songs around here relating or referring to the subject. The two John/Jon’s are this way on May 10th, and I have tickets for them at the National Forest Folk Club, and Bellowehead at the club’s festival in July – can’t be bad!
    Enough waffle from me – All Hail!

  24. Jane Ramsden says:

    Helloooo John! Lovely to hear from you! Plug good things unashamedly – I do, all the time! I will be seeing Jon and John the day after you on May 11th in Saltaire. Not actually seen the duo before, so greatly looking forward to it. All Hail to thee as well! Hope you and yours are also hearty.

    @ Muzza: The cat botherer has left thee a message under yesterday’s offering! Lol.

  25. John Bryson says:

    Hello Jane,

    Thanks for your message. Just back from the South coast, and looking forward (not the right phrase) to another house move, this time staying in Leicestershire.
    Re Bellowhead at the Nat Forest Folk Festival, I have volunteered (and been accepted) as a hon steward for all three days. I only live 35 minutes away maximum, so looking forward to it.
    I have seen the two J’s twice, and the best way to describe their act is super. My wife Jane, who sometimes gives up on my folkie ways, also thinks they are great, so that is definitely a recommendation.
    When I went to a singers club last Autumn I was given strict instructions that on my first visit I do not get up and give them my version of one of my all time faves, ‘Matty Groves’. I did what I was told, but I did give them ‘Donkey Riding’ and Hanging Johnny’ both of which I’ve learnt from the main Mr JB on this site.

  26. Diana says:

    Yes Jane and John. The duo are certainly great. You will enjoy I am sure. Have seen them twice now and really enjoyed their performances.

  27. Jane Ramsden says:

    Happy Easter, one and all… though I think I might be the only one and all!

    It is awfully quiet on here, with lots of spam finding its way in, so I thought I would introduce more edible festive spam for Good Friday with an unseasonable-seasoned ‘auld’ Yorkshire recipe – the Yorkshire Christmas Pie (ta-daa!) of (could-be-tailored-down) historic proportions, dating from as far back as the 1700s.

    I recently saw a random episode of them there cooking hairy bikers. I do not usually watch such, as I am an eater not a cooker, & normally just assemble food to table! Why are ye not surprised with the running round of many cats to cater for? Anyway, they were assisting an expert at making a Yorkshire Christmas Pie, which I thought would be marvellous for Easter as well.

    The originals were hugely tall oval affairs, usually moulded in beautifully-ornate, hinged, copper pie containers and incorporated just about every kind of mostly game birds you could think of – many illegal now, like bittern and swan! ‘Legal birds’ can substitute finely, as well as the odd bit of rabbit, or tongue – but not in my case, as I canny abide the latter, so would have to be layered or topped with ham/bacon for moi!

    Today’s modern equivalent culinary delight to buy would be of a bird inside a bird inside a bird variety, but here is a recipe for the original, minus illegal birds (oh-er, missus!), which can be scaled down, unless you are up for making a Denby Dale size eggstravaganza!

    The same wonderful website has other regional recipes from all over the British Isles as well as Yorkshire ones, modern recipes, historic recipes & food history articles by periods in history, feast-day recipes including Easter/Lent & an online library with complete recipe books from all periods of history and regions of the UK & Ireland! How amazing is that to go with your traditional ales and folksongs!

    I am off fer summat to scoff missen now after all that! I shall look in from time-to-time, but only post rarely if there is no-one to read wot I writ! The recipes via the link above will keep you going for many years to come. Enjoy!

  28. ;inda says:

    Not on your own Jane. Think we’re all here just haven’t got a lot to say. Still enjoy the daily visit for a quick fix. Going to see Bellowhead tomorrow at Manchester .

  29. Jane Ramsden says:

    Hello Linda! Glad I’m not on mi own! Yeh!

  30. Diana says:

    Now I am here as well, just a few days late. Trouble with the old computer.

    A good version of this song by Jon.

  31. Old Muzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    Just to let everybody know that I’m still here…clinging to the wreckage!…..(and still jumping a day ahead….cant resist!)

  32. old Muzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Glory be….just got to share with somebody… went dead 4 days ago… me cut off from All Files/Skype/Facebook/ etc….I haven’t even got all that techie phone fall back on
    Then somebody said.. plug computer in and leave it……did that and 4 hours later…it has suddenly come on…….problem is….I have no religion….who should I thank!!!!!

  33. Linda says:

    Reading back through the comments seams that when computer problems strike they’re all fixed in time for todays offering…… Love this tune just what we need at the moment….

  34. John Bryson says:

    Hello Muzza and Linda,
    I’m catching up with this site. Get on here from time to time
    I trust you’re not getting too stir crazy yet – my Wife Jane and I went into lockdown a week before Boris addressed the nation – we’re both type 2 diabetics and Jane is also asthmatic.
    I have to confess that Jon’s material brightens up the day – we’ve seen him three times in the past 12 months, once with the Remnant Kings and twice solo and his range of material, including some items from AFSAD, is super

  35. Linda says:

    Hi John, also Type 2 have found Jon’s music to be very helpful over a good many years….

  36. Old Muzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Linda /John …..Glad to know you two still out there…keep safe

  37. Linda says:

    Always raises a chuckle…… Nice to have Spiers and Boden reunited super virtual concert on Friday night

  38. Linda says:

    Nearly missed this one raises a chuckle every time I hear it….

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