FOLK FOR ALL: From the Bury Free Press of Friday, March 4

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Something a little different this week. A contribution from a local poet which lends itself to musical arrangement making a fine traditional ballad.

Grace, by George Wicker

There was a baby girl called Grace,

Of fairest limb and fairer face,

Grace was born into a town,

Where commerce flourished all around.

Merchants bargained every day

To make their every action pay

For rubbish in the streets that grew

But O, the rats were growing too.

In the summer of 1665

The dead outnumber those alive,

While everywhere the sickness creeps

Through abandoned homes, deserted streets.

And no-one knows what’s in store,

The filth is piled up door to door,

And no-one knows what to say

As they cart the dead away.

There’s a battle will be run

Not fought under a foreign sun

But in the kingdom of a land

Where wealth and filth go hand in hand.

Treat headache, vomiting and boils

With vinegar and herbal oils,

Drink mercury, eat arsenic cake -

Listen to the cries your neighbours make.

Imprisoned in your deathly cell,

The house you know and love so well,

See the death that’s coming fast

in breath upon the window glass.

There’s a battle will be run

Not fought under a foreign sun,

But on the streets of London Town

Where the Thames comes sweeping down.

Now Grace the baby she falls sick

Her breath comes slow, her blood runs thick,

Everybody rallies round

But the cure for sickness can’t be found.

They put the cross upon the door,

The baby she don’t cry no more,

She’s gone to meet her brothers four

Who died and went the week before.

There’s a battle will be run

But not a fight that can be won.

The winner of the day will be

Not man or saint, but common flea.

And then the cry goes round the place;

“The bloody plague has murdered Grace,

Can there be God that stands so firm

While all his creatures writhe and squirm?”

And then the cry goes round the town;

“The bloody plague has brought us down,

This creeping death must be God’s will!”

But O, the rats are growing still.

GIG GUIDE

SUNDAY, MARCH 6 – Black Fen Folk Club: The Boathouse, Cambridge. From 7.30pm. Free. Contact jwlz101@yahoo.co.uk

MONDAY, MARCH 7 – Cherry Hinton Rd Folk Club: Cambridge. Free. 7-9pm. Contact Rlindumgreene@gmail.com

TUESDAY, MARCH 8 – Whittlesford Folk Club: Bees-in-the-Wall. 8-11pm. Free. All welcome. Contact Robin robinhil@dsl.pipex.com

Ely Royal Folk Club: Kings Arms. 7.30-11pm. All welcome.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9 – Woolpit Folk Club: The Bull. 8.30-11pm. Contact cprdvc@talktalk.net

Guitar Club: Constitutional Club. Bury. Free. 8pm. All comers welcome. Contact Kevin. kevin_cawser@yahoo.co.uk

THURSDAY, MARCH 10 – Circle Dancing: Drinkstone Village Hall, 10-11.30am. £5 on door. jenlarner@gmail.com

FRIDAY, MARCH 11 – Long Melford Folk Club: Cock and Bell. 8pm Free. Open to all. Good stuff happens here. Recommended.