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Germany Clockmaker / The German Clockmender

[ Roud 241 ; Ballad Index K201 ; Mudcat 8214 ; trad.]

Charlie Wills from Somerset sang Germany Clockmaker at the age of 93 in January 1971 to Bill Leader. This recording was released a year later on his eponymous Leader album Charlie Wills. The album’s notes commented:

There appear to be only two other published versions of the Germany Clockmaker, in Folk Song Today No. 3 and J.N. Healy, Ballads From the Pubs of Ireland (Cork: Mercier Press, 1965). There are no recorded versions on disc, but the song compares very closely with The German Musicianer on Harry Cox’s album English Love Songs.

George Spicer sang The German Clockmender at home in Selsfield, West Hoathly, Sussex, in 1974. This recording made by Mike Yates was published in the same year on Spicer’s Topic album of traditional songs and ballads, Blackberry Fold. Mike Yates noted:

In the folk repertoire, certain nationalities carry a stereotype image. The Scots are well known for their meanness and the Irish are likewise drunken fools. In a group of songs, which includes The German Musicianer as sung by the late Harry Cox, we find the Germans being characterised in a different role! As George says, “It’s a song that you can take either way.”

Mike Harding sang The German Clockwinder in 1972 on his Trailer album A Lancashire Lad.

Paul and Linda Adams sang The German Clockwinder in 1975 on their Sweet Folk and Country of songs and ballads of Cumbria, Far Over the Fell.

Jim Causley sang Germany Clockmaker in 2011 on his WildGoose album of Devon songs, Dumnonia, referring in his liner notes to Charlie Will’s “extremely cheeky rendition”.


Charlie Wills sings Germany Clockmaker

A Germany clockmaker to England once came
Any old clocks or watches he’d mend.
He’d put them to right nine times out of ten
With his too-re-lum, toodle-um, too-re-lum-day.

Chorus (after each verse):
With his too-re-lum, toodle-um, too-re-lum-day
Too-re-lum, toodle-um, too-re-lum-day

He met a young lady in Tenonsbury Square,
She told him her clock was in want of repair.
He followed her home to the lady’s delight,
In about five minutes he had her clock right.

They sat down to tea and to loving they got,
All of a sudden to hear a loud knock.
In walked her husband with a hell of a shock
To see this young German winding up his wife’s clock.

He got him hold by the back of his neck,
He shaked him about till his teeth fall out.
He made him promise no more in his life
He’d wind up the clock or another man’s wife.