Pork brings out the best in people (even in the Philippines), and I’m farming out most of this to Rol@My Top Ten. Normally I find his selections absolutely fascinating but alarmingly modern, but you have to admit the genius of Green Jelly’s “Three little pigs”:
Check out the rest. I’d get rid of the Beatles (who made this one mistake), Elvis Costello and Morrissey (who can’t do anything right, ever). In their place I’d like to suggest a couple of things I’ve sung at least once:
- Even the wicked wolf agrees that “Los tres cochinitos,” the three little piggies, from the Mexican series Cri-Cri is adorable (starts ca. 01:50):
- “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.” It’s called a hog here, which is a misprint. Etymology:
p – 1 = o
i – 1 = h
g – 1 = f
So, “I’ll hof, and I’ll pof, and I’ll blow your house down.” Pof comes from qog, a misspelling of cog in the sense of a small Scots barrel used for milking ewes and cows, as in “Gin ye, fan the cow flings, the cog cast awa’” from “The rock and the wee pickle tow,” a Scots spinning song by Alexander Ross, schoolmaster at Lochlee.
Why a wolf would be using such devices and secret code is unclear.
- A number whose name I dare not print, which I wrote in Low Saxon dialect with KV at a time when rural isolation and suicide was in the news. It’s about a farmer who eschews towns and travels for the company of his own fat pig. Despite painting a positive picture of home entertainment -Britain is not the only nation of animal-lovers- it was banned by The Man.
- An instrumental number, based on a transcription of the panpipe playing of an itinerant French castrator and tinker (you used roughly the same tools to redo pans as to undo pigs) in rural Galicia in the early 20th century. It will sound familiar (though infinitely more sophisticated) to anyone who has heard the pipes of the few remaining ambulant knife-grinders in Barcelona and other Spanish cities, their wheel driven by a belt run off their moped.
- “I love little pussy” is not obviously about a pig, but it reminds me of the time in Hungary when I saw a large sow corner and eat a cat. I have often told my good friend Victor Orbán that he should welcome Muslims because they will drive down labour costs without increasing pork prices, but he will keep going on about Turks at the gates of Vienna in 1683. We Ulstermen would never hold a grudge like that.
- “Here, here, here is pig and pork,” a vicious late 17th century Irish sectarian ballad, doesn’t really count, but who’s counting? Everyone knows Swift, but there’s lots of other fine and/or lively post-Restoration Dublin- and Belfast-based satire. One extraordinary example I’ve found is particularly apposite to my trade – a parody of an anti-revolutionary libel trial, of which more anon. Here’s a straightforward vocal recording, but my version is closer to some vile porcine Detroit hiphop I found in a remainder bin in a Paris record store, once upon a time.
- Transvestite barrel organ dancers in 1930s Whitechapel and the 1860s London West End
With acrobats, clowns, and Doris and Thisbe, goddesses of wind.
- Two versions of Flann O’Brien’s “The workman’s friend”
With some relevant chunks of Henry Fielding.
- An organ-grinder at Archway
Pleasures and treasures of the Edwardian street, by a descendant of Scottish banditti.
- Mechanical musical instrument invented for the 1851 London Great Exhibition by Henry Mayhew
He also coined “flaxen Saxon.” With other absurdities.
- Noisy buskers used to drown out the sounds of murder
But were organ-grinders really complicit in the 1817 killing at Rodez of the French politician Fualdès, as the translation suggests, or were the vielles hurdy-gurdies, as you’d expect?