Together! 2012 Sea Shanties

Sea shanties have been part of our work from the start of the Together! 2012 Music Club in Canning Town, when Drunken Sailor was a popular choice and we learned more about Newham’s seafaring history. In 2015 we held a Shanty Day with specialists Anna Cornish and Pete Truin as part of our Summer Together! programme, where we wrote our own words to the shanty Donkey Riding (below). In 2017 we hosted the Rom Shanty Crew, who taught us shanties to sing with them at the re-opening of Carpenter’s Lock in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We have continued to sing shanties at our Zoom Together! open mic events on the first Thursday of each month, and wrote A Nice Cup of Tea, our second shanty, together at the end of the first lockdown.


Donkey Riding Around Newham
Lyrics to this version © Together! 2012 CIC 2015
NB: A donkey was a type of ship’s engine. Find out more and listen to the tune here.

Were you ever in East Ham?
Where the waiters call you ma’am
Serve you up a joint of lamb
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus:
Way, hay and away we go
Donkey riding, donkey riding
Way, hay and away we go
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Stratford town?
Lots of drunken men around
Acting like a circus clown
Looking for a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Maryland?
Giving Mum a helping hand
Listening to a steel pan band
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Custom House?
Looking for a tiny mouse
Overtaken by a grouse
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Manor Park?
Walking around in the dark
It really was a lark
Looking for a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Plaistow?
People bustling to and fro
Dick Turpin escaped you know
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Beckton?
Wondering what’s going on
All the boys and girls have gone
Looking for a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Forest Gate?
There to meet an online date
Here they are arriving late
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Silvertown?
Dressed up in your best ball gown
Dancers going round and round
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in North Woolwich?
Mending trousers with a stitch
Woolly clothes will make you itch
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Upton Park?
Watching children have a lark
Hearing all the staffies bark
Think they saw a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in Canning Town?
Where the noise can make you frown
Policeman said that you’ll go down
Because you stole a donkey.

Chorus

Were you ever in West Ham?
Sitting in a traffic jam
Cursing and swearing, blast and damn
Wish I had a donkey!

Chorus x 2


A Nice Cup of Tea – a Shanty for Shielders.
To the tune of ‘A Drop of Nelson’s Blood’; watch the video below.

VERSE
Oh a nice cup of tea wouldn’t do us any harm…
Oh a nice cup of tea wouldn’t do us any harm…
Oh a nice cup of tea wouldn’t do us any harm…
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS
And we’ll stay alive and keep our spirits strong
Yeah, we’ll stay alive and keep our spirits strong
We’ll stay alive and keep our spirits strong
And we won’t be left behind!

Oh writing a new poem wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh taking some photos wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh a phone call with friends wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh an hour with the crochet wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh playing the guitar wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh painting a new picture wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh joining in a Zoom wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh to have a little dance wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh shooting a new film wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

Oh banging our own drum wouldn’t do us any harm… (x 3)
And we won’t be left behind!

CHORUS

If you can’t see the video, click here to view it on YouTube.


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