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GUEST,David Lyr Req: Bare-Legged Kate (John Dengate) (41) RE: Lyr Req: Bare legged Kate - John Dengate 27 Sep 04

For Alison

The Octopus song is called (as your friend almost remembered correctly) "The Barking Creek Bellringer's Daughter."

Its about the eponymous bell ringers daughter who sells live Octopi for a living in East London and her grisly fate at the hands of Algernon Snout "an unemployed Billingsgate porter". According to the song she was a young lady of considerable charms "she so lovely so fair and so squat, conductors fell out of their buses.." Whilst out making her living she is spotted by Algernon Snout, "a villain what wallowed in crime," as the latter basks in the sun on the mud outside the sewage works. Snout wastes no words trying to woo the bell ringers daughter, he leaps on her and tries to force his unwanted attentions upon her. There is an epic struggle on the banks of Barking Creek between ravisher, ravishee and a bathtub of live Octopi.
"Snout never knew the danger to which his was liable
til a tentacle, slimy, did stealthily glue its sucker upon his left eyeball."
Algernon leaves off his struggles with the bell ringers daughter to concentrate his efforts on the octopus and
".....attempted the monster to throttle,
when his eye came away with a pop and a rip
and a sound like a cork from a bottle.
When Algernon spied he was only one eyed
he was filled with distraught irritation
and he grabbed that old octopus by his insides
as a weapon of flagellation."
I will draw a discreet veil over what happens next, suffice to say that it is the only recorded instance of homicide committed with a live cephalopod.

I'm not going to post the whole thing because its very long and because you can buy a CD called "Deep Water Blue" by John Lewis of Brisbane (I think) which has it in its entirety, well recited in an authentic south london accent (which is close enough to Barking to pass muster). John may be willing to give you the words himself. Contact him on

Leave a message on your original octopus and flagellation thread if you want more information.

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