Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inspired by a Press Gang

Press Gangs in and of themselves aren't inspirational. They are oppressive. Centuries ago one could be pressed into service if one accepted a king's coin. Any coin, be it copper or crown. The trouble was, a sober, well-thinking man would not take a mere coin in payment for his life. The phrase "Mind your ps and qs" is said to originate from this dark era. A wife would tell her husband on his way to the public house to trade, to "mind your pints and quarts" for a few, critical reasons. The tavern keep would begin to charge whatever he wished for a pint if one was too drunk to notice, making the tab hard to ever pay off. The most important of these reasons though comes from King's men slipping a coin into one's tankard of ale. Once the tankard was drained of it's contents, the "accepted" coin was revealed, and one would be dragged from the pub towards the recruitment officer.

It's the beginning of glass-bottom tankards. Before accepting taking a drink, one could simply lift his tankard and peer through the bottom in search of coin.

Of course, the Press Gang could just as easily catch a person unawares in a dark alley and beat him until he's surrendered, or even kidnap him, especially if that person was out after curfew.

So why do I say "Inspired by a Press Gang"?

It's what I thought of when I wrote these silly lyrics. I just stumbled across this in my creative writing stash and I thought I'd share.

Lucky to be Unlucky

Some might be lucky in love and even luckier in bed
Some might be lucky enough to be lucky with money instead
Me I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve no luck with luck at all
I’m lucky to be unlucky, whack fol liall diall

When I was just a young man, I fell for a lassie’s charms
Little did I know that she was destined for another’s arms
On the night that we were to wed she left me high and dry
She bore twins and is with child again, so better that man than I

I left the heather of Scotland because I was tired of the bog
London weren’t much better but I couldn’t see it through the fog
The press gang found me in a ditch and shipped me out next morn
I heard the fire swept through London by the time we reached the Horn

We were attacked by pirates and they set my crew adrift
The storm that found the pirates drowned all aboard the ship
My crew washed upon the shore of an uncivilized isle
But I found a stash of forgotten rum that would last me for a while

The natives there were cannibals and ate up half my crew
I was next upon their list but then their plan fell through
The mighty chieftain’s daughter had her eye on me to wed
The morning after the pox swept in and the entire tribe was dead

I thought that I had the last of luck since I then was all alone
Until a whaler bound for Liverpool stopped to ask directions home
Now I’m back aboard a bark and bounding o’er the briny sea
I wonder if I should warn the captain about little ole unlucky me.....

Nah, He thinks he’s seen a mermaid, I’d better let him be.

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