Friday, April 23, 2010

The Calico Printer's Clerk

I think that under normal circumstances I would have left the blog today. I have a great deal to do and I have been invited to a meeting in Manchester this evening. I'm looking forward to it a great deal but, since it is in Manchester it will take organising. Parking alone can be a nightmare in Manchester and the place I'm going to was built in 1900 and so does not have any parking of its own. So I will park in the carpark of what used to be called Kendal Milne. Funny that, they changed the store name to House of Fraser ten years ago, but everyone still salls it Kendals. Ho hum.

I thought that I'd share two pictures with you today. The first is a stile. I like stiles as they usually let you have access to places that they don't really want you to go. So they let you walk through farmers fields where vehicles cannot go, and where they don't want the animals to go to either. The funny thing with this stile is that it is at the bottom of the path down the back of Oakfield Road. It stands to one side of the path and you don't need to use the stile because there is no fence alongside it. You just walk down the path. So I think that this stile must be a hangover from those days when the whole of the Green lane Estate, which Oakfield Road is a part of, was farmers fields. I don't think that was too long ago. My friend Alan, who lives in a lovely little cul-de-sac called "The Rushes" tells me that he can remember when the space behind hadfield Roadm which is where the Green lane estate is, was just farmer's fields. I guess the estate was built in the 60's & 70's, but that was a long time before we moved here in '83.

Anyway, I like stiles, so you can enjoy it with me. The second picture is of something much older, but how old I have no idea. Down at the bottom of Dinting Arches, just before we turn off to walk along Triffid Alley to the back of Carpenter's Foam Factory. The land dips towards the river. This very old piece of wood stands there. There are various bits and pieces of things around that suggest that there might have been an industrial past to this bit of river bank, but nothing really substantial. To me, this looks rather like an old gate post, but there is no sign at all of its partner and it would be a very strange gate if it only had one post. But I cannot think of anything else it might have been. To see what remains, it is too substantial to be a fence post, but I really do not know.

I like Industrial Archaeology. In this part of the world, the North West of England, one of the cradles of the Industrial Revolution, there are all sorts of remains of a very different past. Not far from this piece of wood is the building that, until about 1900, was a Calico Printing Factory. There were never very many of them, I think.

Which brings me to something else. We haven't had a poem for ages, so I thought that I'd include not exactly a poem, but the words of a Broadside Ballad. I heard this folk song for the first time sung by Mike Harding many years ago now. I rather think that it was this song and one or two others that set me on my love of folk music and Industrial Heritage. Anyway, to tie in with the Calico Print Works, here are the words of 

The Calico Printer's Clerk

In Manchester, that city of cotton twist and twills,
There lived the subject of my song, the cause of all my ills.
She was handsome, young and twenty, her eyes were azure blue
Admirers she had plenty and her name was Dorothy Drew.
Chorus (after each verse):
She was very fond of dancing, but allow me to remark That one fine day she danced away with the calico printer's clerk.
At a private ball I met her in eighteen sixty-three;
I never will forget her, though she was unkind to me.
I was dressed in the pink of fashion, my lavender gloves were new,
And I danced the Valse Circassian, with the charming Dorothy Drew.

We schottisched and we polkaed to the strains the band did play;
We waltzed and we mazurkaed and she waltzed my heart away.
I whispered in this manner, as around the room we flew
Doing the Varsovianna, "Oh I love you Dorothy Drew.”

For months and months attention, unto her I did pay
Till, with her condescension, she led me quite astray.
The money I expended, I'm ashamed to tell to you
I'll inform you how it ended with myself and Dorothy Drew.

I received an intimation she a visit meant to pay
Unto some dear relations who lived some miles away.
In a month she'd be returning, I must bid a short adieu
But her love for me was burning, oh deceitful Dorothy Drew.

At nine o'clock next morning to breakfast I sat down
The smile my face adorning it soon changed into a frown.
For in the morning papers, a paragraph met my view
That Jones, the calico printer's clerk, had married Dorothy Drew.

She was very fond of dancing, but allow me to remark
That one fine day she danced away with the calico printer's clerk.

The notes in the book where I find these words say, " The Calico Printer's Clerk is a broadside ballad unearthed by a group in the Preston reference library and set to a tune by [Dave] Moran. It tells the tale of a twee young gentleman, a cruel but beautiful young lady, and the eponymous clerk, who quite literally waltzes off with the girl in the end. It is full of rich, period detail from the 1860s, including lines like the gentleman's remark: “I was dressed in the pink of fashion; my lavender gloves were new.” It also details the trendy dances of the time, mentioning schottisches, varsoviennes, polkas, mazurkas, waltzes, and circassians as it relates its sadly comical tale."

Ah dear, unrequited love, it gets me every time. It would have been me, you know, spending all of my money on the flighty flibbertigibbet, only to see her ride off into the sunset with the callow, unfeeling Calico Printer's Clerk. By gad sir!
See you tomorrow, if we're spared!

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