My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him


Jon attributes his source as “From Silly Sisters,” also confessing that it’s “Sung with great enthusiasm around staff camp fires on Forest School Camps.”

That Silly Sisters album again, which I can happily say I now own, having found a very nice vinyl copy in Bristol for a reasonable price. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet, hardly having been at home since, but I took your collective recommendation and look forward to getting to grips with it this coming weekend with a bit of luck. I guess the song needs no explanation and Martin Carthy, Bert Lloyd and Lou Killen have all had a crack at this as well as Maddy and June and you can catch up with several of those at Mainly Norfolk. You can also start a dabble at Mudcat over here. I note that the link claiming a version dated 1638 is sadly broken although there seems to be an C18th version available in the Bodleian.



28 Responses to “My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him”

  1. Andrew Smith says:

    A song that’s easy to parody! I remember 80s Essex hamony group the ‘Penny Huffers’ singing ‘My Husband’s too much Courage in him’ in reference to a brand of ale that was popular at the time.

  2. Dave Rogers says:

    And there’s also Les Barker’s “My husband’s got no porridge in him”, as sung by June Tabor, Norma Waterson, etc!

  3. Jan says:

    Does anybody think that some songs really need to be sung by a person of the appropriate sex, and if so, what’s the deciding factor?
    This one I’ve always felt should be sung by a female, but Jon could maybe have changed my mind on that.
    Ienjoy singing it verse-and-verse-about with my daughter, who in her early teens insisted on having the verse ‘every night when I goes to bed’ which she sang with great relish. What sort of a mum does that make me, I wonder?

    Simon – glad to hear you’ve got hold of the Silly Sisters album. I hope you won’t be disappointed when you finally get round to listening, but I don’t think you will.

  4. Shelley says:

    When we’ve sung this at (male-dominated) folk clubs, it has gone down like a lead balloon. However, with some songs, it doesn’t seem to matter who sings them.

    And enjoy the Silly Sisters Simon – fabulous stuff!

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    I do feel this is most appropriately sung by a woman/women, but with a great deal of pace and humour, if not even a come-hither look at the men in the sudience, to make it more acceptable to their delicate sensitivities and possibly fragile egos! I understand a woman starved of affection could be very scary! A very brave choice of song on your part, Jon, which you put your own stamp on.

    You will surely love Silly Sisters, Skyman! Think you did well finding that vinyl copy, esp if at reasonable price. T’is a gem!

  6. Jane Ramsden says:

    A note on rhubarb as an aphrodisiac:

    As with turkey rhubarb in an earlier song on here, the leaves of rhubarb are extremely poisonous, but erotic red rhubarb stalks have been used as a love stimulant in tonics since the Chinese first cultivated the plant in 2700 B.C.

    In America “pieplant” is the basis for rhubarb pies (often combined with strawberries) and is stewed with sugar as a spring tonic (so very fitting for a May song) said to rejuvenate men and women alike.

    Italian lovers mix rhubarb in wine with cinnamon, ginger and vanilla for a stimulating aphrodisiac tonic. The word ‘rhubarb’ comes from the Latin rhabarbarum, “root of the barbarians,” because the Romans believed people who ate it to be barbaric in nature.

    In England “rhubarb” has been used as a synonym for the penis, as in expressions like “How’s your rhubarb comin’ up, mate?”


    Since turkey rhubarb is employed for indigestion or constipation and English rhubarb as the aphrodisiac, Tim Hart might have more famously observed: “Rhubarb and turkey rhubarb! The poor man can’t have known if he was coming or going.”


  7. Muzza (N.W.Surrey.UK) says:

    What’s this song all about………..I can’t make out just what she wants him to do.
    Mend the fence? put a bolt on the shed door?…Women….a mystery to me!
    I’ll think about it today while I’m up in London Morris dancing all over the capital(not Leeds Jane)…looks like the weather will hold..must dash for the train.(ooops-nearly forgot my rhubarb sarnies!)

  8. Diana says:

    I really don’t know what to say about this one. I just can’t believe it! Seven years married and still no action. Men aren’t like that are they? But Jane I will never be able to look at a stick of rhubarb without thinking of your comments above.

  9. Diana says:

    Blast it – did not manage to download the programme so went back to the web site and listened to it. Fay’s singing is absolutely lovely and enjoyed her interview very much. At least we know which “Henry” she was singing about now Reynard.

    By the way it was a rhetorical question in my comment above as mostpeople will have gathered.

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: The capital of Yorkshire is York! Doh! Steady with the rhubarb sarnies. For your more delicate constitution, I recommend… celery… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Actually quite brave of Jon to go for this one, and well-delivered, even if not a woman. I suppose the words could be modified to make it more appropriate to a man singing about a woman disappointed in love. Maybe he just didn’t fancy her, having married ‘the girl with the land?’ Or maybe not of that persuasion at all, which might have had to be more hidden in t’olden days. Very difficult if children were required to work the land. But just a jolly romp really. No-one’s egos should feel fragile.

    @ Diana: Your 2 Bellowhead vid posts did not appear on my FB wall and I did note no share button on yours, but I could view them there. I guess you’re just having a bad techie whizz day!

  11. Jane Ramsden says:

    I can’t find Les Barker’s ‘My Husband’s Got No Porridge In Him’ so you’ll have to make do with courgettes… or rather him and Keith Donnelly at the Dent Folk Fest 2009 with ‘No Courgettes.’ Masterly!

  12. Jane Ramsden says:

    And even when you’ve got it, you can’t always flaunt it! (2007)

    Les is coming to Otley Folk Festival this year – yeh!

  13. Diana says:

    Damn, blast etc. I have boobled again – written to you Jane then forgotten to press submit. I am disappointd that I did not manage to transfer the vids to your wall but it is a great achievement that I did manage to get them on mine. But so frustrating that I cannot move them – have attempted several times bringing up “friend” but to no avail. I will now go and cheer myself up and follow your links.

  14. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    6 a.m. this morning was a May morning as it should be according to all the folk songs. A clear blue sky, still, the birds singing and the dew sparkling in the early sunshine. Sadly there seemed to be fewer maidens out bathing in the dew this year, but that is the price we have to pay for all the en-suites that have been installed in the peasant’s hovels.
    We are having a brief respite in the monsoon that has caused visitors to the garden to marvel at the size of my rhubarb. It is becoming a forest. We do enjoy it cooked in various sweet dishes, but you do need to go a bit easy on it, especially if, like Muzza in London today, you find yourself a long way from an en-suite. As for it’s aphrodisiac properties, I could not possibly comment !

  15. Reynard says:

    I just sacrified myself for the sake of science and ate a piece of rhubard cake. But I don’t feel any different from before. Oh well, I’ll just continue reading the new Eliza Carthy biography and listen to her mum singing the porridge song.

  16. Diana says:

    Perhaps that is just as well John but I see you are dwelling on the maidens bathing in the dew. Still as you say there are fewer maidens then you must have found some at one time – you should be so lucky! As for your remarks on rhubarb I will pass over them. I did notice that you grouped yourself with Muzza with your comments on handbooks for fasteners – that is dangerous ground you are treading.

  17. Diana says:

    Have just finished “Mother Tongue” Reynard and it has proved to be quite an education. I found the whole explanation of language and where it originated to be really absorbing and I don’t think I shall look at english in quite the same light again.

  18. Reynard says:

    I’m glad you liked it, Diana.

  19. Diana says:

    Enjoyed it very much Reynard.I got through it in double quick time as it was so absorbing. Have you finished you A. L. Lloyd biography? Or are you like me and often have a couple of books on the go at the same time?

  20. Diana says:

    BY the way you were a brave man of science sampling a rhubarb cake – goodness knows what might have happened to you, can only suppose you ate the wrong kind of rhubarb. Jane was talking about Turkey rhubarb which had all those strange consequences. Perhaps a rhubarb crumble may be better.

  21. Reynard says:

    This week is biography week: I put Lloyd on hold after about 60 pages when I got Eliza Carthy’s biography on Friday but I finished that one yesterday evening. Much more interesting and entertaining, including some refererencs to and quotes from Jon. But I’m sure Lloyd will become interesting too when I’ve trudged through the history of the Communist Party of the UK in the 1930s. That’s an important part of what made Lloyd but the constant namedropping makes it hard reading.

  22. Diana says:

    You sound a lot like me, if I am grabbed by the first page and chapter then I am drawn into a book and it does not take very long to finish it. Some though make heavy reading and if there is a lot of namedropping, and especially if you have to refer somewhere else to find out who they are, it can put you off a little. Some biographies and autobiographies are really interesting but some do pall on you. This week it has been non-fiction week for me, but will be back to James Patterson soon. A little light relief.

  23. Muzza (N.W.Surrey.UK) says:

    @Jane……..Thank you for reminding me of Courgettes..what a cracker..must learn it…..couldn’t make out the end of the line that starts:-
    Nous avons les legumes, haut coiture……. then what…..the last phrase???????
    Can you help……I think that I have the rest ok.
    REF Your link
    Ref the dachshund……….I know that is a small,shortlegged dog…..but couldn’t make out what his problem was……….never heard of one of those….is is a Germanic or Yarksher based problem?…….I know lost socks/vests pose a challenge.

  24. Diana says:

    You promised faithfully Muzza not to use those words again and I said that somewhere down the line you would forget and mention socks or vests or both again. I was right!
    What have you to say for yourself now?

    Went the day well? I think it stayed dry for you in London anyway so that was a blessing.

  25. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Ref ‘No Courgettes,’ the words are ‘haute couture haricots’ – that is ‘arryco’ to you, as in beans.. Ted studied Franglais, ye know!

    Ref the daschund, his problem is perpendicular… stairs. We know all about that in Yorkshire, where it is all hills and stairs, satanic mills… and other erections. Any Yorkshireman (or woman) will confirm this…

    @ Diana: Sorry, as I have defo raised the sock and vest issue under ‘Sweet Nightingale.’ But as Muzza is on holiday for a few days, he may have forgotten all about them by the time he gets back!

  26. Diana says:

    You cheeky person encouraging Muzza to sin. When I saw those words again I thought he had forgotten what he wrote. All is forgiven.

  27. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey.U) says:

    Ya know what I love about AFSAD….not only do we get a daily dose (of folk song) but we get reminded of a bit of Les Barker!…………n courgettes indeed!

  28. Linda says:

    @Muzza hope your getting them vocal cords ready for tomorrow …….

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