||Pub Songs heard in England and the Royal Navy
The pub and music-hall songs listed below are represent perhaps about only a third of this class of song that I have sung in public at some stage in my life. I have only listed those songs which I have taken into my unpublished song books. This list may be extended if I ever get round to completing this task.
Music-hall and pub songs together with nursery rhymes formed the first encounter with the world of music which started on my mothers knee. They provided the staple self-entertainment for my seven-member family (parents, 1 brother and 3 sisters) in the 1940's and early 1950's. My father was a natural entertainer and had a huge repertoire of jokes, pub songs and monologues. My mother, too, was no slouch and was au fait with all the well-known and lesser-known nursery rhymes. She even had some songs that I've never seen in print or heard from others. Chiefly in winter, we would sit in a tiny back-room (the only heated room in the house) round a coke-fire and sing these songs. All had to a "turn" even the youngest.
Later as radio and television came into our lives, variety and music-hall programmes in both media gradually took over our family sing-songs (sadly when looking-back but in those days we were quite in-step with the march of time and bang-up-to-date). On joining the Royal Navy in 1957, pub-singing entered my life which I very much enjoyed until leaving the service in 1968. This was generally in the meaner pubs in Portsmouth and Plymouth as well as in the various fleet-canteens around the world (Gibraltar, Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong) not forgetting the tiny bars just outside the Singapore Royal Navy Base in the kampong of Sembewang. Since then I have never sung any of these songs, except for once or twice with Brian Kelly in the Irish Pub, Schnoor, Bremen.
For those dear surfers that don't know, music-hall songs were quite complicated. They generally were made up of two tunes and sets of lyrics, one, a narrative-part for the performer and the other, a chorus for the listeners. The chorus was normally sung twice.
The pub "singing" that I knew and loved was a raucous affair. It was just one long never-ending medley of one verse songs or choruses from music-hall songs. The main thing was that it had to be as loud as possible.
Geoff Grainger, Bremen-Vegesack, January 2001