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Dave Harker, Fakesong

GUEST,jag 31 Jan 20 - 06:28 AM
Jack Campin 31 Jan 20 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 31 Jan 20 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 31 Jan 20 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,jag 31 Jan 20 - 04:51 AM
Joe G 31 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 31 Jan 20 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 31 Jan 20 - 02:50 AM
Steve Gardham 30 Jan 20 - 05:42 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Jan 20 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 30 Jan 20 - 03:51 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Jan 20 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 29 Jan 20 - 06:03 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Jan 20 - 03:10 PM
Joe Offer 29 Jan 20 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 29 Jan 20 - 05:43 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Jan 20 - 06:53 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Jan 20 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 28 Jan 20 - 05:46 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 28 Jan 20 - 05:14 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Jan 20 - 05:26 PM
Richard Mellish 27 Jan 20 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,jag 27 Jan 20 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,jag 27 Jan 20 - 03:21 PM
Lighter 27 Jan 20 - 03:17 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jan 20 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,jag 27 Jan 20 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,jag 27 Jan 20 - 01:23 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Jan 20 - 01:16 PM
Vic Smith 27 Jan 20 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 27 Jan 20 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,jag 27 Jan 20 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,jag 27 Jan 20 - 06:53 AM
GUEST 27 Jan 20 - 06:32 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 27 Jan 20 - 05:56 AM
GUEST 27 Jan 20 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 27 Jan 20 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 27 Jan 20 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 27 Jan 20 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 27 Jan 20 - 03:07 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 26 Jan 20 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 26 Jan 20 - 03:49 PM
Vic Smith 23 Jan 20 - 01:32 PM
Lighter 23 Jan 20 - 11:41 AM
Brian Peters 23 Jan 20 - 10:56 AM
Steve Gardham 23 Jan 20 - 10:12 AM
Steve Gardham 23 Jan 20 - 10:11 AM
Steve Gardham 23 Jan 20 - 10:02 AM
Jack Campin 23 Jan 20 - 09:55 AM
Steve Gardham 23 Jan 20 - 09:52 AM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 06:28 AM

Hi Psuedonymous. I picked butterflies and fossils (rather than dinky toys or stamps) because collecting them could, but needn't be, related to theorising (about natural science or religion). Also the drive to 'get a full set' probably doesn't apply to songs.

I think for some people who collect enjoyment of the social interaction with people having similar interests is part of the attraction.

I raise it in the connection to Harker because everything he decribes people as doing is given a political interpretation. Collectors who had money and leisure time (a wealthy country parson for example) could simply have done it as a hobby.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 06:17 AM

Does Harker have anything to say about John Leyden? He was around at the same time as Scott and Motherwell, impressed the heck out of everyone who knew him, but left only a small paper trail. I put a couple of anonymous songs on my website which I think must have been his work (who else could possibly have reworked Hafiz into a topical Scottish song?). What he published under his own name tended to be overblown (like that vast ballad about the demoniac aristo who ended up getting boiled in lead) but maybe he could do better when he wasn't trying so hard?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 05:48 AM

apologies for 'Scott' in a post above. Should have been 'Scot'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 05:45 AM

Hello Jag

I don't have any simple answers to your questions? But the answer to the last one will probably be 'yes'.

Interesting comparison with butterfly collecting etc. I had thought of dinky cars as a comparison with song collection. Similar liking for the 'rare' has struck me in both hobbies. Also a certain focus in number: the more you 'collect' the prouder you can be of your collection. I'd better not mention 'packaging' since though this definitely improves the value of a dinky car it won't be a metaphor people approve of when applied to folk.

But even with dinky cars, some people might ask the interesting question why dinky cars, what is the fascination and so on, what is culturally interesting about the 'car' and why were children given them to play with, especially in the coming post-oil world … (?)

Just in passing, I looked again at a piece by Beaman, arch critic of Harker. He is political from the outset. Referring to the revival of Sharp's day he says and I quote: '... for a brief moment it looked as if a genuine, indigenous and unifying national culture might have been discovered. This however was a false dawn.'

This is from Beaman's 'Who Were the Folk' article, in which he has one or two criticisms of Sharp as well as more or less open contempt for Harker and little time for Lloyd.

He criticises those who try to portray 'folk' as belonging to the working class. In what seems to me to be rhetorical rather than scholarly comment he says that the approach leads to a kind of inverted snobbery and that it leads to a situation where there is an insistence that the only proper mode for the performance of folk music is "an informal, amateurish and 'amateurish' one which faithfully reflects its supposed social origins and leads to displays of suspicion, resentment and restrictiveness when the material is used outside this 'working class' role." He goes on to dis Georgina Boyes' critique of something Vaughan Williams produced.

I'm sure there is quite a lot of 'theorising' about fossils, if not 'fossil collections' by the way and some controversy too (evolution v creationism). One of my grandma's believed that fossils etc were traps set by the devil. (We didn't get on too well).


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 04:51 AM

What chance some of the people putting effort into it were doing so simply because they were interested, or liked a puzzle, or enjoyed the songs, or simply liked 'collecting'? I don't recall much theorising on romanticism or politics over contemporaneous butterfly or fossil collections.

Why do people today dig through old documents and broadsheets looking for songs? Why do they write articles for FMJ or mustrad.org?

Will people write scholarly papers about them?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe G
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM

By strange coincidence I'm listening to Deborah Orr's biography 'Motherwell' as I browse this

As you were.....


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 03:42 AM

According to Hustvedt, Thomas Gray translated some material from Old Norse in the 1760s. Interestingly, Hustvedt says that the work of Percy was influential in a Scandinavian revival, so it did go both ways!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 31 Jan 20 - 02:50 AM

Hello Steve

I don't think Harker regarded Motherwell as perfectly scholarly, but I thought it worth noting that at least in this case Harker appears willing to give some credit where it is due. Harker asserts that Motherwell came up against/discovered the extent to which print and oral cultures were intermingled.

I think there was something in Hustvedt about the possibility of translations from Latin, so that is twice it cropped up recently. Latin as a medium for the spread of yarns seems obvious given that it was a lingua franca.

I think I might disagree with you about the politics of collectors. I say this with my Eng Lit head on. (But I suppose I should ask 'irrelevant to what?' For example, when we read a novel by Hogg (you will know who I mean) his connection with Scott and his political project and affiliations was just one way we tried to make sense of it. Motherwell was another pro union Scott. This particular bunch of Scotsmen was described as 'anti enlightenment' by a historian in our reading group, and Motherwell's objection to ordinary people getting learning and knowledge instead of the old more superstitious ways seemed part of this, though he was of a lower social class. Their 'romanticism' is part and parcel of their interest in old stuff, and it isn't just an objection to the ugliness of industrialisation as it came out partly through the more leftist views of the Romantics (as in Blake, early Wordsworth etc) but in the case of the right wing as opposition to enlightenment per so. This is how the argument goes, at any rate.

The problem it seems to me with Child Ballads is that it all gets circular: Child had his own ideas about what did and did not count, but little idea about what a 'ballad' actually was or where they came from. Then as Harker says, Child's collection became a sort of practical definition of 'ballad'. Which later US students of 'the ballad' used to make all sorts of wild guesses about the people who had produced such a body of literature. Needless to say they drew a picture of a very odd 'race'. And Harker jumps up and down getting cross about it. With some justification I sometimes feel.

Gerould, for example. I read some of him and Harker quotes some.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jan 20 - 05:42 PM

I think the editors' politics are pretty much irrelevant. Motherwell had his own publishing business in Perth and by all accounts was a bit of a lad in his youth. His 'scholarly approach' so lauded by Child and others only came in later on as an afterthought. There is some evidence to suggest he was 'mediating' just as much as the rest, well perhaps not as much as Buchan. His later approach is certainly the beginnings of a proper scientific approach in line with Ritson, but I can't help thinking there was at least some hypocrisy in there. When he was younger he is on record as having bragged about his mediations to his mates in the pub. There is also some evidence of the people he paid to go out and collect doing their own mediating. This has some similarity with Scott as some of those who were sending Scott material were also mediating before it got to him.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jan 20 - 05:31 PM

We have no direct proof that during the 18th century the antiquarian editors were translating directly from the Scandinavian, but by about 1800 Jamieson certainly was. Most of these ballads are no older than the 16th/17th century, some even later. Of those that have equivalents out of Britain those that match up with Scandinavian ballads are much more common than from other parts of Europe. In order to make a British version one only needed the bare bones of the story. Some of them could have been translated more than once, Tvo Seostre (Child 10) for instance. What little evidence we have points towards direct translation by relatively sophisticated hands. Of course in the 19th century the likes of Borrow, Prior and Grey were translating and publishing Scandinavian ballads. If they were doing it in the 19th, why not the 18th?

In my own neck of the woods there was frequent dialogue between Denmark and the locals (As a fishing port we have long had a Danish church) but I think direct translation by ballad editors is far more likely. A lot of this is just my opinion, but I challenge anyone to try and disprove it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 30 Jan 20 - 03:51 PM

OK thanks, Steve, so Harker seems to have got the Percy detail wrong then.

What Harker has to say on Motherwell is interesting: he dislikes his high church Tory politics, and doesn't seem impressed that he was secretary of an Orange order, but he seems to respect his more scholarly approach, and thinks this approach might be why Child used so much of his work. Harker also thinks that Ritson was more scholarly.

Both Percy and Motherwell seem to have been aware of 'Viking' stuff, Percy translated Iceland Edda (from Latin) and Motherwell wrote poetry based on sagas. Which leads me to the question why you think translations of ballads Danish to English was taking place 18th and early 19th century. I'm not doubting that this happened just wondering what the context was.

I seem to remember finding Hustvedt. 'Ballad Books and Ballad Men' online but now I cannot find it, but I seem to recall something about translation in that.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jan 20 - 01:38 PM

'Percy's misdeeds' were surely already well known before Child was born. Child certainly was desperate to have the Percy Folio Manuscript before setting out on ESPB and indeed thanks to Furnivall he got that.

Child did bow to Grundtvig when it came to including most of Buchan's mediated material, but that would have complied with his initial stated intention anyway, which was to include all ballad material that MIGHT contain traditionary material, i.e., anything that looked like it contained the genuine ballad style. Buchan's 'eked out' contributions certainly did contain mostly pretty good ballad style, as he was mixing and matching from one ballad to another and putting in a good old sprinkling of commonplaces. Even his own pieces that Child included are much better imitations than those of the literati.

I don't think Grundtvig had any sway on Child over his sudden ceasing of criticising suspect versions, as Grundtvig was already dead by the time this happened.

Not sure I've noted any German I needed to understand.

Child's overriding desire was to get at the manuscripts as opposed to the published versions he used in ESB, and he was indeed very successful with this. Very little in the way of appropriate manuscripts has appeared since ESPB. He didn't get to see the later Buchan ms which was bought for the library after he died, but he didn't miss anything. He had been told by various correspondents in Scotland that there was nothing of any worth to add to what he had seen and copied in the BL ms. None of the Buchan mss contain anything like what we would call field notes as can be found in Motherwell's and Kinloch's Mss. The BL one is actually just a proof for the 2 volumes of 1828.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 29 Jan 20 - 06:03 PM

Harker (p102-103) states that the early 1857-59 ESB had a slightly revised 2nd edition in 1861. He quotes from this in the following pages, citing comments on ballad style and content and then in the section on sources, giving some of Child's comments on these.

Harker says that Scott and Percy provide 25 % of the texts, 70% came from seven mediators: Scott, Percy, Ritson, Buchan, Motherwell, Jamieson and Kinloch. He says that Child quoted at length from Motherwell's notes and provides example comments on the material the mediators provided for him. 115 texts from the 1st edition were left out of the final one.

He says that once all of Percy's misdeeds came to light Child had to 'reconsider his trust in all the song-book makers on whom he had relied'. Grundtvig helped in this, providing advice and encouragement.

Harker quotes from the letters (in Hustvedt) showing that the two men discussed matters of taste and interpretation. So Child had called the Buchan texts 'prolix and vulgar' (among other things) but Grundtvig thought their vulgarity was proof of authenticity. Child's reply to this was that it was an 'artificial vulgarity' which made him fear that it came from "a man and not from a class of people", 'the vulgarity that I mean consists in a tame, mean, unreal style of expression, far from volksmassig'.

In the end Harker says Buchan's texts were used over three times as often in the third edition (ie the ESPB) as in the 2nd (ie the one of 1861) so Child Harker thinks gave way

I wish Child did not have so much German in him: I know this is because he got his doctorate from studying German philology in Germany but I cannot read or interpret the words.

But it interests me that Child at this point seems to want songs that come from a class of people and not from a man.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Jan 20 - 03:10 PM

This is all from memory so don't take it as read, but I seem to remember they first came out separately in 10 PARTS, paper copies, typical of the Victorian era, and it's conceivable that some people had these bound as was. When they started being published as books they were put into 5 volumes, and I have a vague recollection of even a 2 volume set.

I think the ESB did go into 2 editions. I never had a copy, making do with just a list of contents. It might well be online somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jan 20 - 05:52 AM

Wikipedia confirms my understanding that there were two editions of the Child Ballads. The first was the 8-volume collection titled English and Scottish Ballads (1860), which generally presented just one variant of each ballad. Child published The English and Scottish Popular Ballads in five volumes, 1882-1898 (but sometimes it's counted as ten volumes, and I don't quite understand why).

Nobody ever talks about Child's narratives in his work, but I find them fascinating - especially when he ties the English-language songs to songs and stories in other languages. It's fun to just sit down and read Child, and the Loomis Press edition is especially readable.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 29 Jan 20 - 05:43 AM

I got the 'editions' thing sorted out: there were Harker says two slightly different versions of the ESB, and I think Harker refers to the big collection as a third edition, and that somebody picked him up on this, no doubt on the basis that it was quite different so not really a 'third edition'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jan 20 - 06:53 PM

Child rarely expressed opinions on individual versions of ballads, but where he did I agree whole-heartedly with most of them. I dearly wish he had done more of this, but when you're dealing with that volume of material, mostly as a hobby, you rarely have time for many opinions.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jan 20 - 06:46 PM

I prefer my 'sophisticated professor'. It is a great pity that all the effort expended on the very learned headnotes detailing the various continental equivalents has been so little used. I am particularly interested in the Scandinavian ones as I think many of the English language Child ballads are to some extent translations of these by sophisticated people, seemingly mainly in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Not quite sure what you mean by 'editions'. Child published The English and Scottish Ballads (taken from published collections) as part of his Poets Anthology, in the 1860s. There are probably various editions of this but I have none of them except for a few extracts. It is quite different from the ESPB. As far as I know there are not different editions of ESPB, reprintings yes, and the Loomis House recent reprint puts the additions and corrections in with the main body, which I suppose constitutes a new edition. >>>>Harker refers to differing 'editions' of ballads produced by Child<<<<< Confused!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 28 Jan 20 - 05:46 AM

Hello Steve:

You wrote this:

"It's fairly obvious his attitudes to the ballads and their provenance were changing gradually during his last 10 years, and as a sophisticated professor his attitude to the broadside ballad was only to be expected. If we lesser mortals have spent many hours grubbing among the dunghills to find the few jewels, he would have enjoyed this even less than we do."

I briefly wondered whether you were dangling bait for what I know would be an interesting discussion to which you - as an expert on broadsides - could contribute a great deal? I am sure you are aware of far more of the various discussions about this 'dunghill' reference and of Child's criteria for selecting or rejecting ballads than I am.

Trying to stick with Harker (thinking Child would merit a thread of his own and surprised that there isn't one) where you have put 'sophisticated professor' Harker or somebody might put something like 'North American bourgeois white male with a Protestant background". Harker certainly thinks that Child's selection reflects his bourgeois tastes. I think Harker's view, as we have seen is that as a representation of working class/lower status taste through the centuries Child's selection (along with a lot of other stuff) is not representative. I cannot find a reference to dunghills or dunghill in Harker.

Harker refers to differing 'editions' of ballads produced by Child. Is it worth listing these with dates and checking that Harker got it right? I think I read something where somebody challenged Harker's use of the term 'editions' is why I am asking. Also trying to start at the beginning ..


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 28 Jan 20 - 05:14 AM

Vic Smith wrote : "That really depends on what we regard as 'the truth' because 'the truth' is so clearly bound up with 'the significance' and 'the interpretation' of an event or a series of happenings."

Well said!

This, perhaps, is partly why there are so many 'heated arguments' - as opposed to 'discussions' - on Mudcat?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 05:26 PM

We simply don't know what Child thought of their creation. He didn't give us his final thoughts in any detail. It's fairly obvious his attitudes to the ballads and their provenance were changing gradually during his last 10 years, and as a sophisticated professor his attitude to the broadside ballad was only to be expected. If we lesser mortals have spent many hours grubbing among the dunghills to find the few jewels, he would have enjoyed this even less than we do.

Whilst he must have contemplated their origins from time to time, he was absolutely engrossed in their more recent manifestations. Those with their earliest versions on broadsides he happily included, and where this was the case and he had access they are generally his A and B versions, but not in every case. Similarly Percy's Folio Manuscript.

One thing that demonstrates his lack of interest in investigating the earliest versions, and also his unwillingness to revisit a ballad once published, is when The Cruel Mother broadside was available to him he simply included it in the Additions and Corrections with no comment.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 04:39 PM

Pseudonymous said (among much else) "It seems to me that if the Coppers stood on equal social status terms with the gentry they would not have been received in the scullery, this being of course the part of a large gentry house where the servants got on with their work."

Of course the Coppers did not stand on equal social status terms with the gentry. No-one has suggested that they did, only that they did have regular dealings with them.

Pseudonymous also referred to "vehement assertions I have read to the effect that Child and all who came in his wake firmly believed that 'the folk' created beautiful songs which have been smoothed like pebbles in the sea". That was indeed what Sharp chose to believe, but how many other collectors or scholars have subscribed to that belief? Surely Child for one did not?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 03:25 PM

Crossed - so Lighter's suggestion seems spot on.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 03:21 PM

In brief M G Myer had commented in a review that "the most a Copper-song ploughboy will get up to is to 'take a winsome lass for to sit on his knee'" and Bob Copper wrote to him saying " your theory that the songs were 'bowdlerised' in their transition from taproom to parlour is absolutely correct. Dad told me that his mother was most strict about such matters and would not even allow Grand-dad to sing 'Jack Tar becuase of the line 'Oh, you're dirty love and your flirty love and you smell so of tar'. - There's puritan for you! (as they say)". (FMJ v5 n5 p623)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 03:17 PM

> The girl won't have a tarry sailor for a husband until she sees his money

A strict Victorian moralist might have found the theme offensive, and "dirty" may have meant no more than "despicable" or (colloquially) "lousy."

The OED cites, for example, Byron in 1819: "'Twas for his dirty fee, And not from any love to you."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 02:47 PM

The Saucy Sailor, a dirty old tap-room song? My god, have things changed. I've had it sung to me by very prim old ladies. There's no hint of bawdry or sex in it. The girl won't have a tarry sailor for a husband until she sees his money then he turns the tables on her and rejects her. Are we definitely talking about Roud 531 here? The other one, Roud 530 is even more innocuous, a dialogue between mother and daughter, mother persuading daughter not to marry a sailor.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 01:31 PM

Since the page is open.

The quote from Bob Copper goes on "I only remember Dad singing snatches of it, I don't think he knew all the words. He certainly didn't write it in The Book and that's why it has not been included in any published book or records - and it is for that reason that we never sing it. I do however, remember the tune."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 01:23 PM

@Vic Smith

The 1989 FMJ (Vol5, No5) note by MG Myer that I mentioned just above about Jack Tar/The Saucy Sailor quotes a 1986 letter from Bob Copper saying "...my Granny used to say of it, apparently, 'I don't want your dirty old tap-room songs in here, thank you!' "


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 01:16 PM

Not my area of expertise, but I'm following this thread with great interest.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 11:53 AM

Pseudonymous wrote:-
As Vic Smith's contributions have shown, even at a more lay and non 'academic' level, there is awareness of possible difficulties in getting at 'the truth' about these things. I believe that academics would call these 'methodological problems'. Whose account do you believe? How much is the singer doing what we all do and editing what he or she says to suit the audience. Could the singer possibly be spinning a yarn because he or she likes the attention/is a natural story teller (and in some cases mentioned on Mudcat is getting paid). How objective (if this is possible) is the reporting of the 'data'?

That really depends on what we regard as 'the truth' because 'the truth' is so clearly bound up with 'the significance' and 'the interpretation' of an event or a series of happenings.
On the 31st January an event of monumental importance will happen in the UK. The facts of the matter are quite stark and few. The significance of the event is huge. I wouldn't mind betting that in fifty years time there will still be opinions expressed that say the what happened that day was:-
* The best thing that ever happened in the UK
and
* The worst thing that ever happened in the UK
... with every shade of opinion in between with the reasons strongly reflecting everything about the person who said it.

I have just returned from spending a long time in the delightful company of Jon Dudley. The problem is that I now have more than two hours of Jon's speech to transcribe. The conversation was all about his position in the family came about, how it developed and the effects that it had on him. Much of what Jon had to say was not new to me but to hear Jon's take on it was very important to me because it gave me a different triangulating point, a locus to broaden my knowledge of the family's story. I already know 'the truth' about the year when a book or an album were published, when the first trip to the USA took place but to have a different opinion/viewpoint of the significance of each landmark in the development of the Coppers' place in the folk music community - all of which assist us in getting the facts of the matter.

Another quotation from a different post:-
We have not established as far as I can see whether the Coppers knew songs that they chose not to sing in front of a woman (especially one of higher social status?). This is I think they key point Cole is making, and he cites Lucy Broadwood as an authority for the view that some singers would not sing in front of female collectors songs that they thought were unsuitable.
The Jim Copper generation knew and sung risque songs.
Somewhere in the mass of books, articles, radio and TV programmes that I have read or written or contributed to, I remember Bob saying something like (and here I paraphrase):-
Granny Copper said, "No no no. I don't want to hear songs like that in the cottage. If you want to sing songs like that you can sing them down the pub; not here."

.... and that was that. Jon Dudley may be able to remember the context of this though thinking about it, that story probably crops up in several places.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 09:12 AM

Always interested to read what Jag has to say.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 09:02 AM

That was a response to Pseudonymous


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 06:53 AM

If you are interested to see things in something of a bigger picture I don't think scholarly works like that of Harker are the place to go. You need contemporary descriptions and accounts. Scholarly works may include pointers to them in the references they give but that is not what the scholars or their publishers are about.

The bigger picture is going to be spread out over a vast amoiunt of writing elsewhere, much by amateur experts who are interested in digging out details and writing for people who are interested in them.

We used to have about 15-years worth of Folk Music Journal in the house. I now only have four numbers that had been mis-shelved at the time we gave them away. Those include an interesting 1988 article by Vic Gammon, which starts "Reading through nineteenth-century copies of the Sussex Agricultural Express as part of my research project on ...", a 1992 article by Dave Harker that has a lot of 17 century detail, and a short 1989 note by M G Myer quoting extracts from a correspondance with Bob Copper about why the Copper family repertoire didn't include Jack Tar/The Saucy Sailer though his grandfather sung it (which has parallels with things Walter Pardon is quoted as saying).

As can be seen in his extensive references to Alfred Williams, Harker does dig into the historical context of the songs and singers. That's not what 'Fakesong' is about. That is maybe why this discussion keeps going off topic in interesting ways.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 06:32 AM

Kate Lee was staying in the house of Sir Edward Carson. I just found out who he is. Not only was he the prosecutor of Oscar Wilde but he also was an Ulster Unionist who helped to create Northern Ireland. Lee herself was 'Anglo Irish'. So interesting in terms of the general social background of the early Folk Song Society and no doubt people will have written articles about it.

Harker explains in his introduction why he does not deal with the work of Kate Lee.

He refers to the Copper family just once (p236), when stating that A L Lloyd used a short article about them

"to challenge discretely some of the more old-fashioned notions about the influence of print on folk-song, the incidence of choral singing, and the issue of musical literacy amongst singers."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 05:56 AM

I'm a fool. Regarding fiends been watching too much 'Good Omens' on Catch-up TV obviously! Tenant and Sheen both brilliant.

By the way, as so often there is a very readable piece by Vic Gammon which covers areas we (ok I) have been groping my way through.

https://www.academia.edu/5385241/The_Early_Recordings_of_The_Copper_Family_of_Rottingdean_Commentary

And he also has a piece on the actual music so full marks from me for him.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 05:36 AM

You also had huntsmen galloping over people's "fiends"!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 05:29 AM

dear dear I put 'you're' instead of 'your'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 05:27 AM

In fact, I do have quite a lot of sympathy with Harker when he says that the voices of ordinary people are often absent from accounts of folk. I suppose if you're only interest is the songs/tunes/lyrics you may not be interested in the people who sang them and passed them down.

But if you are interested in something of a bigger picture, then I can see at least two angles:

1 Try to see the music in its social context: how did it further social relationships and interaction, the economic and social life and structure of the community (if at all) etc. So the section on Beeforth and his hunting songs sung after a hunting trip by Dave Hillery (I read this) attempts to do this, as did, say MacColl's work on Scottish Travellers (Which I know about but have not read). I have to say I oppose fox hunting, nasty stuff and potentially ruinous to the poor sods over whose fiends they galloped, so I find the area a 'turn off' but there you go that's 'just me'

2 To focus on individual singers and try to find out and record for posterity their views, feelings, ideas, thoughts both about individual songs and about 'folksong'. I'd include here 'self-mediation' and/or 'autoethnography' (saw a piece about Cumbria written in this way, it was mentioned on Mudcat).

As Vic Smith's contributions have shown, even at a more lay and non 'academic' level, there is awareness of possible difficulties in getting at 'the truth' about these things. I believe that academics would call these 'methodological problems'. Whose account do you believe? How much is the singer doing what we all do and editing what he or she says to suit the audience. Could the singer possibly be spinning a yarn because he or she likes the attention/is a natural story teller (and in some cases mentioned on Mudcat is getting paid). How objective (if this is possible) is the reporting of the 'data'?

A third way is the Lloydian one, especially as in his first history of English folk song, the long historical view, which in Lloyd's case was a very Marxist view of English history, based mostly on the history by
A L Morton (which I have browsed in having got it cheap online after seeing it referenced via MUSTRAD or Mudcat or both). Harker attempts something similar I think in his overview of the folklorists, he attempts to set them in the historical context as he sees it.

So many different perspectives!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 05:01 AM

@ Jon Dudley
Thank you for interesting and constructive contributions. They add a different perspective. However, for me, they don't nullify the point Jon quoted. I doubt, for example, that visiting gentry would have been received in the scullery. Hunting songs and their context their social and personal functions are something discussed in a study of a Yorkshire farmer called Jack Beeforth. The occasion Jon mentions sounds to have been 'traditional' in a sense that a lot of 'revival' singing is not. This is not to decry revival singing or singers, of course.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 27 Jan 20 - 03:07 AM

Pseud says this:

"It seems to me that if the Coppers stood on equal social status terms with the gentry they would not have been received in the scullery, this being of course the part of a large gentry house where the servants got on with their work."

I hope I made it clear (if not, apologies) that the Copper brothers at that time, whilst not 'upsides of the gentry' as they would have put it, in other words, not friends or close acquaintances, were nevertheless respected and valued employees. As such, they would have met their employer in their daily work to discuss farming and land management matters as well as offering intelligence (if that's the right word) as to the whereabouts of game on the Downs when they were off hunting. There was one exception when Copper family members were admitted specifically to the drawing room (rather than the scullery), and that was when after a day in the field, Steyning Beard, the local squire would invite them in to sing their hunting songs and drink hot punch. Otherwsie, most farm business was conducted through the bailiff's office, whilst milk and produce would've been delivered to the 'back door' of 'Challoner's' farm house.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 26 Jan 20 - 04:01 PM

Haven't got a lot further with Harker, though his chapter on 'balladry' i.e. some of those who came after Child contradicts (as far as I can see) vehement assertions I have read to the effect that Child and all who came in his wake firmly believed that 'the folk' created beautiful songs which have been smoothed like pebbles in the sea whereas in fact a lot of them seem to think that once ordinary people got their hands on the songs they got corrupted. It does this by quoting from the people concerned. Even if you don't agree with Harker, his list of references and sources gives you lots of places to find out more and make up your mind for yourself; as a survey you might not like his bias or his polemics (and they annoy me) but you could use him as a resource, and I think that is perhaps why Vic Gammon thought it would be an indispensable reference book for the future.

Another thing that seems to me to come across (and this has been gone over time and time again) is that having decided it made sense to categorise a variety of songs as 'ballads' people had no clear idea where they came from and seem to more or less have guessed, while writing as if conveying decided facts. This is the impression I get from Harker and it chimes with the impression you get on Mudcat, to be honest.

There have also been problems defining what these 'ballads' were: there is a quote where Child writes to Grundtvig asking for a definition.

On 'trolling': given the vehemence with which opposing views are debated on Mudcat it seems unfair to tag one person who endeavours to enter into the debates as a 'troll'. There are it seems to me competing ideologies on these threads (none of which might be happy at being described as an ideology - though in the broad sense that is the right word).

I'm not sure that 'the truth' is ever pure and simple, or objective and ideology free, come to that, when it comes to matters cultural, but if I have an agenda it is that I tend, in vain perhaps, to distinguish 'ideological commitment' or 'theory' from 'fact' or 'history'.

    Let's not talk about "trolling" at all, please. To my mind, the people who are labeled "trolls" are still human beings, and both the US and the UK are led by those who are less than human - people who are far inferior to your typical Mudcat troll. A "troll" could also be viewed as a "devil's advocate." This is a music forum, so talk about music. And whatever the case, this has been a very interesting thread.
    -Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 26 Jan 20 - 03:49 PM

"We can now safely lay to rest the fiction that the brothers were ‘uncomfortable’ during this meeting, that they were ‘held captive’ in any literal sense (I hadn’t realised they made three visits), or that the fictional discomfort had any ‘decisive role’ in their choice of songs."

Three points here: on the first, I disagree, on the second, I didn't realise that anybody had suggested this, (have they?), and the 3 visits thing just shows how much information is incomplete/potentially misleading), and on the third, again, I am not sure of its relevance to the points being made or that it has been established at all.

Vic agreed with the following from Jack Campin: "What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in."

I absolutely agree with it too, and I think I called this 'self-mediation', though I would see self-mediation as potentially going beyond this. Nice to hear it coming from Vic and Jack because if I raise this idea I get called names and people express feeling 'disturbed' (present company excepted of course).

Let's be fair to Cole: he quotes from and cites Copper's book (and the ODNB on the family) as well as Kate Lee's lecture to the Folk Song Society. (The fact that there were three evenings is stated by Cole, based on Lee's lecture. Copper's account says 'several more such evenings'.) Just prior to citing a passage from Copper's book he says it is 'a rare view of the perspective of the singers themselves.' So he is making a point that many of us, including Harker, would agree with.

Cole goes on to say 'Rather than showing interest in the brother's environment, Lee viewed the Coppers ... not for their intrinsic worth but for the content they conveyed'.

Kate Lee, of course, was not a cultural theorist or a sociologist, she was a song collector. So not an example of the following:

"cultural theorists with axes to grind often misrepresent the data, and are less interested in the voices of actual people (as opposed to anonymous and stereotypical ‘workers’) than were the folk song collectors whose work they attempt to undermine."

It seems to me that if the Coppers stood on equal social status terms with the gentry they would not have been received in the scullery, this being of course the part of a large gentry house where the servants got on with their work.

We have not established as far as I can see whether the Coppers knew songs that they chose not to sing in front of a woman (especially one of higher social status?). This is I think they key point Cole is making, and he cites Lucy Broadwood as an authority for the view that some singers would not sing in front of female collectors songs that they thought were unsuitable.

In addition to the material on their own website, there are Copper family videos on YouTube and quite a lot of work on Spotify.

Some people almost define 'folk' and 'folk authenticity' in opposition to the commercial and industrial world. I found a recent comment to this effect on a Mudcat thread. It would be nice if 'modern' folk were free from the influence of and from engagement with the modern commercial and industrial world.

But it isn't so I guess one 'agenda' is that I find it a bit odd that some people regard as 'traditional' practices which may have some links with practices and contexts of the past but which are deeply entwined with modernity and more to the point sometimes get hot under the collar when these links are pointed out to them. There is not much that is 'traditional' about a pair of brothers singing songs to a visiting professional singer in the scullery of a local big house while she writes down what they are singing, selections of which she later performs (as Cole describes).


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 01:32 PM

Four quick responses to the very interesting comments made by Jack Campin on his reactions to the passage of mine that he quotes: -

This raises some difficult questions that may have parallels in music.
If you are talking about recordings songs/tunes compared with asking about a life story, then I would say that this is spot on.

Some of the Romany use what appears to be traditional belief as a tool for earning money from the outside community - fortune telling, selling talismans and the like. But do they seriously believe it themselves?
Yes and no. The fortune tellers are adept at gaining information and telling people what they want to hear though I have been told facts about myself by Scottish travellers who had no way as far as I could see of gaining these. The camping life made them very fearful of malign supernatural forces and a fear of "Burkers" who were going to kill them and then sell their bodies for science was very common.

What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in.
Again I concur totally with this and it is why I wrote in the paragraph before the one you quote that "An interviewer should say as little as possible and give the informant his or her head about what is important in their view." If you start out by asking, "Tell me about your belief in the supernatural " then you might as well give up. If I was to analyse my approach to interviewing, I think that I would say that it is instinctive rather than intellectualised and that I try to show that I am interested in the interviewee as a person - which is why I want to interview them anyway.

I'd guess Vic has had to deal with that many times and I'm not telling him anything new....
.... which must be why I find myself agreeing with what you say.

I can only think of one practical tip about interviewing that I ever adopted. The BBC Radio Sussex folk music programme that I introduced came on the air a couple of months before the first BBC national programme Folk On Friday introduced by Jim Lloyd. He asked if he could be interviewed on our programmme as a promotion for his. In the pub afterwards, Jim said, "When you ask a question, you will often get a bland prepared answer. Listen to that then smile and nod as if you want them to go on. Because no-one like the idea of a long gap, whether it a live radio or a recording, they will say something like 'Besides....' and then tell you what they really think."
This was in the early 1970s and I have tried it many times since then and 9 out of 10 times it works.

Now it really is time to get back to 'Fakesong' as has aleady been suggested and as I haven't read the book, I'll shut up for a while.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 11:41 AM

> cultural theorists with axes to grind often misrepresent the data

My experience too, and in other fields as well.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 10:56 AM

Many thanks to Jon Dudley for that thorough account of the meeting between James and Tom Copper and Kate Lee – who, it’s clear, did not carry the title ‘Lady’ as some would have had us believe. We can now safely lay to rest the fiction that the brothers were ‘uncomfortable’ during this meeting, that they were ‘held captive’ in any literal sense (I hadn’t realised they made three visits), or that the fictional discomfort had any ‘decisive role’ in their choice of songs. As I suggested in the first place, the account given in Ross Cole’s article, far from reporting impartially the discrepancies between Kate Lee’s account and that of the family, actually misrepresents (mediates?) Bob Copper’s words, even as the author mourns that the Coppers’ stratum of society was 'denied its own voice'.

This is directly relevant to the topic of the thread, since it is my repeated experience that cultural theorists with axes to grind often misrepresent the data, and are less interested in the voices of actual people (as opposed to anonymous and stereotypical ‘workers’) than were the folk song collectors whose work they attempt to undermine. But perhaps we can move on now, and back to ‘Fakesong’ itself.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 10:12 AM

I'll be offline for a few days after tonight but should be back to respond Mondayish.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 10:11 AM

>>>>>I don't know how you folks have time to read any books<<<<
----let alone write any!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 10:02 AM

G>C
It may also have had an influence on Child continuing to print everything, even against his better judgment, but when G died Child started taking advice from the likes of MacMath.

I would love to see some correspondence between the English ballad editors and Child as generally they were very skeptical of all this Scottish material suddenly appearing, seemingly out of nowhere. Child actually dedicated ESPB to Frederick Furnivall who helped him get access to the Percy Folio Ms. Both Chappell and Ebsworth were very knowledgeable on ballad history, and Chappell actually lived in Edinburgh.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 09:55 AM

The interviewer should never express disbelief, never contradict, never challenge. This is not a media situation where a politician is being grilled on behalf of the public. It is much more intimate and eventually much more revealing than that. This became even more important when I interviewed some of the greatest tradition bearers amongst the Scots travellers - a severely marginalised group for whom the supernatural was part of their everyday lives. If I had said anything like, "That's not true - that didn't actually happen - I don't believe you." etc. then they would have dried up on me straight away and I would have failed to uncover the attitudes that led to their view of the world and that was what I was after.

This raises some difficult questions that may have parallels in music. Some of the Romany use what appears to be traditional belief as a tool for earning money from the outside community - fortune telling, selling talismans and the like. But do they seriously believe it themselves? Probably most of them adhere to some fairly conventional form of Christianity, but how many folklorists would want to know about that? (In Eastern Europe, the majority religion among the Roma is Baptist Protestantism). What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in. The exact function of each bit of their heterogeneous belief system takes some unravelling and you can't just copy everything down as if it all had equal status an assertion in a scripture. (I'd guess Vic has had to deal with that many times and I'm not telling him anything new).

It took some time for any outsider to even realize that the Roma of Eastern Europe had any folk music of their own, and it's only become somewhat available in the last couple of decades (thanks to groups like Kalyi Jag). The Gypsies have had a professional musician caste for centuries, but what they play to the non-Gypsies of Europe has absolutely zero overlap with the traditional music of their own community. British Roma and other Travellers haven't had such a caste, but they'd have had obvious reasons to evolve one if it looked like there'd be a audience for something labelled as "Gypsy music".


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jan 20 - 09:52 AM

If I can attempt mediation for a moment....

I have followed Pseu's contributions with interest, and what I see tells me of someone not brought up in the bosom of the folk revival like the rest of us, but now with a curiosity like ours to get at the truth, albeit a little clumsily at times.

As a researcher I do welcome criticism and different perspectives. They can certainly sharpen your own argument, even he who shall not be mentioned contributed a lot in this way, and for a while until it got repetitive I certainly welcomed it, and said so on occasions.

I do not see Pseu as a troll. Trolls are purely there to cause mischief and he/she has contributed very intelligently (more than I have) on many occasions. If he/she writes something you disagree with or find offensive then by all means say so. If as I think he/she has a genuine interest in finding out more of what we are about then I for one welcome it. We are small enough in number as it is without cutting it down further.


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