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Cold Stringy Pie / The Farmer and His Servants

[ Roud 1408 ; Ballad Index OSY233 ; trad.]

Two variants of this song can be found in the book Songs of the Ridings: The Yorkshire Musical Museum (2001). One is The Farmer and His Servants as sung by Nigel A. Hudleston, the other is Mutton Pie as sung by ‘Bumblebee’ Jim Baron of West Lutton to Steve Gardham in 1972.

Dave Hillery sang Cowd Stringy Pie in 1971 on his and Harry Boardman's Topic album of popular song and verse from Lancashire and Yorkshire, Trans Pennine. They commented in their sleeve notes:

This kind of ‘hungry farmer’ song with its strong note of criticism was more familiar in the Scottish bothies than the English acres. Nevertheless, this one is very characteristic, depicting as it does the easily recognisable regional stereotype of the mean, horse-dealing slave-driving Yorkshire boss. Kidson, in a note on I’Ansons Racehorse (EFDSS journal No.9, 1906) refers to the fact that Stringy Pie was attached to the same tune but gives no words. Both words and tune of this present version were collected by Dave Hillery from Mrs Ada Cade of York in 1965.

Brian Peters sang Cold Stringy Pie on his 1997 CD Sharper Than the Thorn. He noted:

The late and great Harry Boardman sang Cold Stringy Pie regularly during my formative years in Manchester folk clubs. It's from Yorkshire, and tells of the munificence, philantrophy and haute cuisine commonly associated with that county.

Graham Metcalfe sang Cawd Stringy Pie in 2006 on his WildGoose CD Songs from Yorkshire and Other Civilisations. He noted:

A song spelling out the meanness of Yorkshire men, which we all know isn't true, don't we? Source—the late Mrs Ada Cade from York.

Brian Dawson sang Old Yorkie Watson at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2011. This recording was included in the following year on the festival anthology The Little Ball of Yarn (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 8).

Lyrics

‘Bumblebee’ Jim Baron sings Mutton Pie

There was an old farmer at Rookdale did dwell.
He 'ad seven sarvants and you all know him well.

Chorus:
Tiddly wag fol the diddle all the day,
Tiddly wag fol the diddle all the day.

Now, we 'ave and old lass, she is a damn feal,
She makes sike pies as yan can't eat.
Pies made of iron, bread made o' bran,
The' rattle in your belly like an old tin can.

Chorus

Oh, we 'ave an old yow, yonder laid dead,
Fetch' er up, bullocky fetch 'er on the sly.
She'll mek oor lads some rare mutton pie.

Chorus