Author: Count Palmiro Vicarion (Christopher Logue)
Elated, no longer a child, dawn found me a literary man; I vowed
Puffer would not have died in vain.
My parents were surprised at my docility when, after the funeral,
they proposed I begin schooling in England. They little knew my plan of
scholarship: Puffer had compiled but three volumes; I was persuaded
greater wealth would be the reward of a more diligent scholar.
And how right I was. Hadn't he overlooked:
'Don't look at me that way, barman I ain't gonna shit on the floor'?
He had indeed, and many others. He was not a man to track down those
who “know them all by heart” or even those who have “bits of songs”.
No, he was a dilettante, I came to see that. But even with greatest
effort the scholar is always encountering the person who knows but two
lines (often glorious) and just a snatch of the melody. He will usually
direct you to someone else who knows perhaps the same two lines or just
one more... Ah, it is not easy. And while great songs exist which I
have not compiled here, it is simply that I have been unable to track
down the complete version
— of, to take an example. 'The Ballad of Piss-Pot-Pete'. And
then there was that girl from Miss Brice's School — all golden
she was and with a voice like a morning lark's — but for the
life of me I can remember no more of her song than its lilting refrain:
'Oh how did Edith ever
Get so shitty round the titty?'
You either write them down then and there or they are gone. It is
quite like the limerick except that you may be left with no more than a
bit of a tune.
Luckily, I was found physically fit for my country's wars (and it was
with some apprehension I limped into enlistment headquarters, looking
askance to conceal my missing eye) for without those enriching
experiences my collection would be paltry indeed. Oh, it is in war the
bawdy ballad thrives: up to the waist in urine or blood or even rain,
men begin to sing, and richly. I must say I have never well understood
why it is those who order and control such fine wars are so prudish
about the cultural harvest that are reaped from a really sopping trench
or freezing billet. But no matter. I have prudently, I believe, never
allowed such reflections to distract me from my scholarly dedication. I
felt I owed that to Puffer.
Thanks to a courageous and cultivated publisher, the same who saw the
Limerick for the treasure it is, I can here present the cream of my
years of research. I have included some music and have simply named
familiar tunes appropriate to other ballads. For the rest, many tunes
exist, but the common 4/4 ballad rhythm will usually do. And besides, I
have come to feel that the dirty song tune is almost instinctive. Even
the song itself: rarely is a ballad sung the same way twice, nor, I
strongly feel, should it be. If a person has something to add, let him.
And if someone tells you your version of 'Don't Piss on the Fire
Grandma, Father is Warming his Ball's' is incorrect, be sure it is the
same pedant who will suggest your joke would be funnier if it ended
another way. Kick him, I say.
Vicarion. 1956. Alma Atta.
'Twas on the good ship Venus,
By Christ you should have seen us;
The figure-head was a whore in bed,
And the mast was a rampant penis.
The Captain of this lugger
He was a filthy bugger,
Declared unfit to shovel shit
From one ship to another.
The cabin-boy called Dripper,
Was a foul-mouthed little nipper,
Who stuffed his arse with broken glass
To circumcise the Skipper.
The first mate's name was Morgan,
A veritable Gorgon;
Each night at eight, he'd play till late
Upon his extra-sexual organ.
The boatswain was named Andy—
A Portsmouth man and randy—
His whopping cock broke chunks of rock,
To cool the Skipper's brandy.
His wife was baptised Charlotte
Who was born and bred a harlot.
At night her cunt was lily-white,
In the morning it was scarlet.
The Captain's daughter Mabel
Though young was fresh and able
To suck and shake and fornicate
Upon the chart-room table.
His other little daughter
Got shoved into the water,
Her plaintive squeals announced that eels
Had found her sexual quarter.
The ship's dog was called Rover,
We turned the poor thing over,
And ground and ground that faithful hound,
From Teneriffe to Dover.
Though skilful navigation
We reached our China station.
We sunk a junk on a sea of spunk
Through mutual masturbation.