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Joe Offer Origins: I wish there were no prisons (20) RE: Origins: I wish there were no prisons 23 Apr 19

Here are Pete Castle's notes from his YouTube recording of this song:

    A traditional English song from Kent from the 1998 CD 'apples, cherries, hops and women'. For more info see
    Sung by Pete Castle with Dave, Kath and Heather Grabham, Bob Kenward and Ian Lawther on chorus
    In the English tradition this song was only ever collected once, from George Spicer from Little Chart, near Ashford in Kent. (He later moved to Sussex and his son, Ron, was well known as a 'Sussex singer'. I don't know where the words came from but the tune was obviously influenced by, or pinched from, the blackface minstrels of the late 1900s.

    I wish there was no prisons, I do, don't you?
    For the old treadmill makes me feel ill
    I only steal my belly for to fill
    With my hands, with my fists, with my maulers.

    Oakum picking gives me a licking
    Still I'm very fond of a little bit of nicking
    With my hands, with my fists, with my maulers.

    I saw a girl she had a perambulator,
    She had twins and each had a 'tater
    In his hands, in his fists, in his maulers.

    I kissed one kid and collared other's 'tater
    The mother cries out "I'll deal with you later"
    With my hands, with my fists, with my maulers.

I thought the last word was a dental reference: "With me hands, with me fists, with me molars"
I know. I should be ashamed of myself.

Here is the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song. Looks like we have all the available information.

I Wish There Was No Prisons

DESCRIPTION: The singer says "I only steal my belly to fill." Prison work is hard and makes him ill. He saw a girl with twins in a perambulator. He kissed one baby while he stole a potato from the other. "I wish there were no prisons. I do. Don't you?"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1973 (recording, George Spicer)
KEYWORDS: prison theft humorous nonballad baby twins
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Finger, p. 90, "The Happy Crook" (1 short text, 1 tune, which seems a little more humorous than some of the other versions)
Roud #1708
George Spicer, "I Wish There Was No Prisons" (on Voice14)

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2019 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

Note above that Jim Dixon got as much as he could from a snippet view of Frontier Ballads, for there are parts missing from that transcription.

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