Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Unfortunate Rake

So I was watching the second season of Ripper Street t'other night, and it reminded me of that scene in season one where all the coppers sing "The Unfortunate Rake," which sadly isn't on YouTube, although if you need a reference this is:





With the song running through my head, and it being that time of the year, suddenly something clicked, and I realised, wait, I know that rhythm, those cadences. Fucking hell... look at this:

I asked him what ailed him, I asked him what failed him,
I asked him the cause of all his complaint.

Versus this:

Sinatra was singing, all the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner then danced through the night.



Yup, that middle section of "Fairytale of New York," the best Christmas song of all time, is a frickin perfect match to the lyrics for "The Unfortunate Rake." Seriously, try singing the latter to the tune of the former--two verses then kick in with "And the boys of the NYPD choir..." (sung drunkenly at top volume, of course.) It's uncanny how well it fits.

Anyway, this all seemed a cool wee coincidence/happenstance-of-influence but I was blathering on about this on Twitter, when whaddaya know, I was interrupted by a loud Pffffft! from Gobfabbler.

Pffffft! says he. Well, duh! It's only meant to be sung to that tune, innit?

See, I'm unreliably informed (or reliably misinformed) by Gobfabbler that, and I quote, it were Scruffians as wrote that song, weren't it? I mean, it's about a blooming Rake. Who do yer think wrote it? And it were wrote to that tune what obviously them groanhuffs heard somewheres. It's a right good tune, so no wonders they nabbed it, eh? Had the chorus too, only those weren't the lyrics. No, the boys of the NYPD choir obviously oughts to be the scamps and the scrags and the scallywags. Gob's truth! And the lyrics in the verses goes all wrong too, makes it all about getting cockrot, when that ain't the story at all.

Personally, I don't believe him for a second, but I thought I'd pass on the "aktchual original lyrics, honest!" according to my source on all things Scruffian. So you must imagine this, sung to the tune of that middle section of the Pogues/MacColl song:

An Unfortunate Rake

As I was a-walking down by St. James' Hospital,
I was a-walking down by there one day,
What should I spy but one of my comrades
All wrapped up in flannel though warm was the day.
I asked him what ailed him, I asked him what failed him,
I asked him the reason of all his complaint.
Tis all on account of some handsome young woman,
Tis she that has caused me to weep and lament.

And the scamps and the scrags and the scallywags
Were singing London Bells,
As the ships set sail for seven years of hell.

A-skating I went with a maiden so comely,
A-skating I went with a maiden so fair,
But as she did shiver upon that wide river,
We took to her chambers and warmed ourselves there.
And had she but told me before she disrobed me,
Had she but told of her suitor in time,
I might have not woke to a Waiftaker General,
But now I'm Fixed cold in the height of my prime.

And the scamps and the scrags and the scallywags
Were singing London Bells,
As the ships set sail for seven years of hell.

O'er cold cobbled streets I was led to my judgement,
To irons or rope, to be shackled or swing.
The gallows it was or the Stamp and the shilling
And off to the army to fight for the king.
I answered him boldly, I answered him coldly,
I answered the devil I took for a man.
In cruelty he gave me the life I'd forsaken,
To soldier forever with Ratatat Dan.

And the scamps and the scrags and the scallywags
Were singing London Bells,
As the ships set sail for seven years of hell.

Get a dozen young scofflaws to carry my coffin,
A dozen young scallywags to sing me goodbye,
And each of them carry a shroud of white linen,
For the graves I will win in which I'll never lie.
Don't muffle your drums and play your fifes merrily,
Play a quick march as they follow me to war,
And sing as your muskets fire o'er empty coffin,
There goes an unfortunate Rake evermore.

And the scamps and the scrags and the scallywags
Were singing London Bells,
As the ships set sail for seven years of hell.



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