Saturday, April 25, 2009

Church sells filthy book to man in jumper

Spent the best 50p I've spent all week today at the church book sale, buying a copy of The Common Muse: Popular British ballad poetry from the 15th to the 20th century. It's edited by Vivian de Sola Pinto (wartime friend of Sassoon who appears in the Sherston books as Velmore) and AE Rodway, about whom I know nothing.

The cover, by Stephen Russ, is great. The version here is the best I could find online, and doesn't do the real thing justice - a grid of images illustrating various random words.

Inside there's 600 pages of balladry arranged by theme - some obscene, some historical, satirical etc. It's got Lilliburlero, the famous song of the 1688 revolution (and, more importantly, the tune that Uncle Toby whistles in extremis in Tristram Shandy), which I found opening the book at random when I got it home. The next time I opened it, I found (in the coyly named 'Amatory' section) 'Much has been said', which begins 'Much has been said of strumpets of yore', and becomes much less genteel from that point on.



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