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Keeper of the Scrolls

2010 Posts
Posted -  21/03/2006  :  00:31

Originally Posted by Site Member: Another

The Gypsy/ Leaving the Dales

I was having a rummage this weekend and found the words to some of the Yorkshire songs written by Bob Pegg for Mr Fox. Still good after 30 odd years.

The Gypsy Bob Pegg

I'd like to tell you people that I met her at a fair
But I met her in a pub down by the far side of the square
She was dark and she was handsome and her name was Mary Lee
And I'll tell you of the good times of Mary Lee and me.

She said she was a gypsy and I knew she didn't lie
You could see the fires of India in her dark and knowing eyes
I knew I couldn't hold her, I knew she must be free
But no power on Earth could quench the love I had for Mary Lee.

She said the time of horses had long since passed away
Her family remembered them as carefree, happy days
Her granda used to travel in a pony and a trap
But now they live in Bradford and her father deals in scrap.

I can't really tell you how we passed away the time
We mostly spent the evenings drinking Tetley's ale and wine
Though it might sound common place the way I'm telling you
To met he life with Mary Lee was like a dream come true.

I courted this young gypsy girl through autumn into spring
I thought the time had come for me to offer her my ring
But I never plucked the courage up for I began to see
Thant Mary Lee grew restless with the budding of the trees.

It was on a Sunday afternoon I called to take her out.
It was Mary's dad, not Mary, who answered to my shout
"If its her that you're seeking you've a long, long way to go
She joined a band to Scotland at least twelve hours ago"

But while I stood there speechless at what her father said
The promises I'd hoped for were still ringing in my head
I knew that I must travel the road she'd gone on
Even if it took me to the far side of the sun.

Early next morning I started for Ilkley
The city was silent and still as a stone
With hope in my heart and fire in my head
I set off to find where the gypsies had gone.

I flagged down a car that dropped me at Bolton
The valley before me, the town at my back
Walking alone through the low hills of Wharfedale
By the black top of Kilnsey I saw the dawn crack.

The first one I met on the road was a farmer
He nodded his head as he passed me by
I asked him politely if he'd see the gypsies
“They were camped up at Langstrothdale” came his reply.

By evening I came to the village of Buckden
Decided that here I should make my nights stop.
“Have you seen the gypsies?” I asked my friend Jacky
“They've moved on” he said, “they've gone ower top”

So next morning I took the road into Wensleydale
The moorland before me stretched out like a dream
Up by the boulders and over the bridge
Where the White Lady walked into the stream.

I stopped an old man, I'd met once before,
Kit Calvert the maker of Wensleydale cheese
And when I asked Kit if he'd seen the gypsies
The words that he spoke helped to put me at ease.

He said, “The gypsies left early, I watched as they went.
They had one among them a fine dark haired lass
She shouted to me from the back of a wagon
They were making for Keld by the Buttertubs Pass”

Now the Buttertubs Pass is steep and is high
And the horses would find it a hard way to go
If I kept on the road and my boots did not fail me
I might catch them up before daylight is through.

High on the road and nobody near me.
Far from the city and far from all harm.
Sheep on the hillside and grouse in the meadow,
The blind windows of a far distant farm.

When the sun dropped down low I came into Thwaite
Leaving behind me the dusk on the fell
Started straight way down the road into Keld
Where Neddy once played his harmonium and bells.

From a field by the road, I saw the smoke rising.
I hitched up my pack as I rounded the bend
I first saw the horses and then saw the wagons
And I knew that my journey was nearing its end.

Mary walked up to me and I looked into her eyes
And the sadness in her face is a thing I can't describe
We didn't speak a word there was nothing we could say
About the closing of a love affair, the closing of a day.

Mary took my hand in hers, I took her hand in mine
Just one more night together before we'd had our time
We couldn't sleep inside the van there wasn't any room
So I spent the night in Mary's arms beneath the halo moon.

I woke up in the morning and the light was cold and grey
The gypsies and their caravans had gone upon their way
In my head a burning pain, in my heart a hole
By my side a note was pinned “Have mercy on my soul”

The last time I heard a word about my Mary Lee
She was married to a tinker and was living in Dundee
They say she has a baby now to bounce upon her knee
But I wonder in the long nights, does she ever think of me.

Leaving The Dales. Bob Pegg
Farewell to the fields where my father once worked
To the high moorland hills and the valleys below
For want of employment I'm forced now to leave you
But I won't forget you wherever I go.

Its up where the river winds high on the fell
Its the mine where me granda went digging for lead
But the tubs they lay empty the pit props are rotting
The ore is all spent and the miners all dead.

My mother remembered the old village dance
When my uncle got out his old squeeze box to play
And the people would walk for miles in the darkness
To dance through the night till the break of the day

The last of our fiddlers was “Willie Up Steps”
On the day that he died his young nephew came round
He took all the china and Willies old fiddle
And sent them away to be sold in the town.

Theres nowt but a heap of half finished stones
In the yard where the mason made granite chips fly
He's cut his last headstone, his hammer is idle
He's wrapped up his chisels and he's laid them all by.

I'm leaving the Dales there's nothing to keep me
The doors are all bolted the windows all nailed
I'm leaving a land that has nothing to offer
A land of a people who struggled and failed.

Your children have taken the road to the city
Strangers replace them with eyes open wide
Oh will you remember the life that we gave you
When the last true born Dalesman has died.

Replied to by: Calluna

Do you know whether Bob's stuff is available on CD? I'd love to hear the tunes.

Replied to by: Stanley

On a parallel track, there was a wonderful interview with a gypsy lad on R4 this afternoon at 15:30 I think, well worth listening to on Listen Again.Stanley Challenger Graham

There were a few more replies to this but I lost them during the upgrade

Author Replies  
Senior Member

4249 Posts
Posted - 21/03/2006 : 07:46
 I really enjoyed that......  Are there any more? 

All thru the fields and meadows gay  ....  Enjoy   
Take Care...Cathy Go to Top of Page
Traycle Mine Overseer

6250 Posts
Posted - 21/03/2006 : 10:34

Cathy, your request etc. This one is he Ballad of Neddy Dick.

The locals of Keld in Swaledale tell tales of a man called Richard Alderson who once lived in the village. He was known as 'Neddy Dick' and his claim to fame was that he had a collection of musical stones from the River Swale, which he used to play with two wooden sticks! Bob wrote this song about him.   He's also mentioned in The Gypsy. Sounds like he was quite a character.

The Ballad of Neddy Dick.  Bob Pegg

Break the jug upon the hearth, the fiddle on the stone
Neddy left this evening and he won't be coming home.
Remember all the times he came knocking at your door
Neddy left this evening and he'll come this way no more.

One winter when he was a lad and snow lay on the fell
He learned to play harmonium, his story I will tell.
He took the bells from many clocks and hung them from a branch
When he struck up with feet and hands he made the lasses dance.

Neddy was a farmer 'till he chose the roving way
Weeds crept in his kitchen and his sheep they ran astray.
He climbed the moorland mountain when the weather it was fair
To sit alone and listen to the music in the air.

By the reaches of the river, where otter is the king
Neddy sat upon the bank to hear the water sing.
The music of the stones was still ringing in his head
He braved the stream to pluck them out from the rivers bed.

On the day that Neddy died they took his precious stones
Broke them into little bits and scattered them with his bones.
Neddy only smiled and sadly shook his head,
“If that's the best that they can do, I'm far off better dead”.


Edited by - Another on 21 March 2006 10:36:48

" I'm a self made man who worships his creator" Go to Top of Page
Traycle Mine Overseer

6250 Posts
Posted - 21/03/2006 : 10:45

All this is bringing back too many memories. I think I pinched this one off the Fivepeny Piece for a silly ditty Streetlife used to do called "Early in the Morning" .

"Oh I went up to Heaven one morning in May

Angels said "Where dust come fra and where dust thou stay?"

When I told em from Barlick, my how they did stare,

They said "Come on in lad, thas first one fra there!"

I'll stop now. Nolic


" I'm a self made man who worships his creator" Go to Top of Page
Regular Member

297 Posts
Posted - 21/03/2006 : 11:08

Romano Lavo-Lil: word book of the Romany; or, English Gypsy language

Also titled: Romano Dictionary or Gypsy Dictionary.

Lavengro; the Scholar, the Gypsy, the Priest

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Local Historian & Old Fart

36804 Posts
Posted - 22/03/2006 : 08:00
Catch R4 at 15:30 all week and get back numbers on Listen Again on  It's a gypsy giving a fascinating account of his upbringing on the road.  Brilliant!

Stanley Challenger Graham

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stanley at Go to Top of Page

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