Shelmerston Ladies

Here’s some more not-filk for you.

One of my very favorite writers is Patrick O’Brian, author of the Aubreyad, i.e., Master and Commander and its nineteen sequels.  These books are amazing and you should read them.

One of the Aubreyad’s two protagonists is Jack Aubrey, officer of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era and after.  Lucky Jack is a lion at sea and an ass upon the land, and one of his endearing traits is the baffling mess he makes of aphorisms, by mixing them with other sayings or by simply mangling them outright.

I wrote a song about Jack Aubrey, called “Shelmerston Ladies”.  It’s conceived as a celebration of the great mariner written and sung in the pubs of Shelmerston, a west country smuggling village that is greatly enriched by Jack’s temporary career as a privateer, when he crews his ships with Shelmerston men.  It’s a fairly straightforward, folky song, and the fun part of composing it was writing faux Aubreyisms.  In each of the three triplets, one is a genuine Aubreyism taken from the books, and two are written by me.  Kudos to you if you can spot which is which; kudos to me if you can’t.

Shelmerston ladies, they all wear silk
Bathe every night in gin and milk
Shelmerston ladies, they all wear silk
Thanks to Captain Jack


Shelmerston mutt’s got a tooth of gold
Ermine blanket against the cold
Shelmerston mutt’s got a tooth of gold
Thanks to Captain Jack


Shelmerston ferry’s got a silver hull
Glows like a ghost when the moon is full
Shelmerston ferry’s got a silver hull
Thanks to Captain Jack


   Don’t count your bearskin before she’s hatched 
   Gather rosebuds while the barn door’s latched
   A fool and his money are evenly matched
   Here’s to Captain Jack


Shelmerston pub serves Rhenish wine
Venison stew should you care to dine
Shelmerston pub serves Rhenish wine
Just for Captain Jack


Shelmerston chapel’s got an ivory pew
Don’t sit there, whatever you do
Shelmerston chapel’s got an ivory pew
Reserved for Captain Jack


   A rolling stone doesn’t put down roots
   You can’t judge a man ’til you’ve stolen his boots
   The proof of a pudding is in its fruits
   Here’s to Captain Jack

About David

I’m a writer. This is my blog.

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