Fun nights even when he was older

The pre Christmas season is bringing up lots of memories for me, as I guess happens with a lot of people. Maybe it’s the 3 straight nights minus even the 2 or 2 wines , but words are just queuing up in my head . So cousins in UK, brother in Washington DC , cousin here in Freo, what do you think about gathering some of the songs we sung during our family get togethers? Particularly around the dining table. Very early on I think there was a piano : but uncle Michael , the remaining sibling – he would remember,

Remember . I know some of the songs are are published but not all together, and I suspect that many of those songs we sang as children and younger adults were embellished or re -drafted to suit. Sometimes there were short performances and skits. The Death of Nelson for example, my own fathers favourite when he had had a good few beers – the one where we all waited for mum to say “ ….shh Really . No , NO … “ And my father paused to incorporate her intervention into the performance . Then lying on the ground with one hand on his eye he gasped “ “Kiss me Hardy “

He quickly hoisted himself up again and uttered the final insalubrious line. Despite my mother.

The other favourite was Three Old Ladies Locked in The Lavatory( Sorry Aunty Flora and Aunt ? Long dead then , but the butt of my grandfathers annoyance) We laughed 50 years ago . Others were about babies disappearing down the plug hole. I said they were not socially acceptable , not now anyway . Then there were a few Salvation Army ones ( words changed to incorporate family members, or enemies) , and the rousing Rule Britannia* , commencing “Sons of the Sea, bumping up and down like this “. By this time adults were at risk of missing the chair as they leapt up and plonked down again. I just remembered too some of the songs came from Great Uncle Reg , a Boy Scout Leader and veteran of the First World War. He worked as a diplomat in WW2 , a lot of the time in Paris . Hence the innocent songs of that era , with the belief system of duty and responsibility , dibbing and dobbing.

The 3 brothers, Uncle Michael, Uncle Bill , front , and my father . The faded writing at the back says 1937.

Common camping,scout and some army songs were sung with enthusiasm and varying degrees of seriousness : well known Pack up your Troubles, It’s a Long Long Way

Military . Uncle Reg , my grandfather, my father . No date but my father was 15 yrs old in the Home Guard and 18 when he joined up and started officer training

Look they were not all rude, my mothers term . There were a lot of old war songs like Blue Cliffs of Dover and the more rumbustious Siegfried Line * , suitably modified. Other war songs quite racist, sexist, anarchistic , whatever . Understandable if you’d fought in the war or if you’d lived through one and it’s aftermath .

Dad and my grandad beginning of war

My mother loved the lyrical songs and her party piece was Green Grow the Rushes Oh with movements.We all joined in , tripping over each other as we vied for attention .

There were many more and I have forgotten them . As my last uncle is over 90 it’d be good to get a few of the more obscure songs and acts together. Uncle M has written a lot on the family history and I’m sure he will remember some . How about it , all of us cousins and brother?


*Songs of the Sea (1897) is a British WE1 Naval song . The parody ‘bobbing up and down like this ‘became popular at Boy Scout Camps , and has been adapted to football songs . Uncle Michael , served in Navy , would know more about the adaptation .

*were going to hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line “ ( 1939) Written by Jimmy Kennedy while he was Captain in early stages of W W 2 . BUT am sure the words were different ! My mother intervened a lot here.