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Following the Old Oss

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 17155 ; Tony Deane]

Tony Deane with Elsie’s Band sang his May Day celebration song Following the Old Oss, recorded by Jim Ward on portable equipment at Crawley in 1996, on his 2016 posthumous album Last Orders.

Chris Wood sang Following the Old Oss in 1995 on his and Andy Cutting’s CD Lusignac.

Tony Rose recorded Following the Old Oss for his 1999 CD Bare Bones.

The Young’uns sang Following the Old Oss on their 2010 CD Man, I Feel Like a Young’un.

Finest Kind sang Following the Old ’Oss in 2014 on their EP From Shore to Shore. They noted:

A grand song by the late English singer, songwriter and folklorist Tony Deane, describing some of the goings on in Padstow, Cornwall, during the annual May Day festivities. Two rival “’obby ’osses” dance down the streets, each with their own musicians and followers: the “old” or red ’oss, and the blue ribbon ’oss, the latter supposedly introduced by the temperance movement in the 19th century, and later known as the “peace” or “armistice” ’oss after the First World War. The temperance connotations were long ago abandoned by the blue ribbon followers, but the rivalry remains a part of the fun, and there’s little doubt with which ’oss the sympathies of this song lie. In verse two, “Merv and Charlie” refers to two local characters and singers, Mervyn Vincent and Charlie Bate.

Ian [Robb] learned the song after hearing it from our good friends Sarah Matthews and Doug Eunson at a festival in Ontario. It can also be heard from the ’oss’s mouth, so to speak, on the album Cutaway Mike by Tony Deane’s own Elsie’s Band.

Cupola sang Following the Old Oss in 2015 on their CD Roam. They noted:

Welcome in the Summer with the glorious Padstow May Song, written to celebrate the strange and amazing happenings of the Cornish seaside village on 1st May each year. It resonates with us as it exemplifies the passion people demonstrate in celebrating their heritage with pride.


Tony Deane with Elsie’s Band sing Following the Old Oss

Here’s adieu to Winter wailing.
From now on it’s plain sailing:
For the summer is a-come unto day
As we welcome the First of May.

Chorus (after each verse):
When we’re following the Old Oss through the town
When we’re following the Old Oss Padstow round,
All on a bright May morning,
All on the First of May.

And we rise in the morning early
And remember Merv and Charlie,
By the Golden Lion we’ll stand to greet
The Old Oss on to the street.

And there’ll be no cries nor cribbin’,
We’ll not wear the Blue Ribbon.
It’s the Old Red Oss and a crate of beer
That’ll bring us our good cheer.

And we’ll sing from morn till night time
For one song it’s the right time.
Only in Padstow will you hear
The Day Song loud and clear.

So good men, don’t ignore us,
Join in the May Day chorus;
Dance with the Old Oss, it’s no sin
To watch the Summer come in.


Compare to this the traditional Padstow May Song and Dave Webber’s song Hail! Hail! The First of May.