La Pique

It’s of a flash packet, La Pique is her name
All in the East Indies she bears great fame
For cruel bad usage of every degree
Like slaves in the galleys we plough the salt sea

This is another song I first heard many years ago on a Topic album. The melodeon here is my ancient Koch CF box, which I haven’t had long but really like using for this kind of thing. I think it dates from the 1920s before the Koch company became part of Hohner, and it’s funny to remember that dates back to a time when the crews of sailing ships still sang this song for their own entertainment.

I’m sorry to say I know very little about the origins of the song or the ship named La Pique that it describes – the references on the Internet seem to conflict. What’s more, to illustrate the song itself, I had to ‘borrow’ a photo of a completely different – though appropriately smart – packet ship from the mid-19th century.

4 thoughts on “La Pique”

  1. Arrh! I remember singing this song at Primary school, in (about) 1977.

    I think it was radio 4, and the progrom was 'Singing together'.

    I am amazed how many folk songs have been welded into my brain from an early age. I can only remember this first verse, so it will be fun to fing the rest.

    Does anyone else have fond memories of 'singing together'?

  2. I had not heard you sing this till last night – what a haunting song – and what a great night. I even learnt a musical instrument… which I am sure that I played out of tune and at inappropriate moments, certainly out of rythm, but not too loudly. Even the landlord was smiling and suggesting mince pies next time. What a great voice you have Julie, and thanks for letting me stroke your ocelot, and play with your triangle.

    I remember when I was a small boy in the fifties, that we had to stand around the school piano and sing, whilst the headmaster's elderley mother, gently wafting the fragrance of moth-balls over us, thumped out Shenandoha, Camptown races [the child suitable version], Molly Malone and many others, all from a book of songs still popular at the time. [I will look in Baggins for it].

    Whenever I hear some of these songs, they drag me back to that time when I lived up a huge fir tree and and we played Cops 'n Robbers in the woods at night, the sun always shone, and I learnt to mess about in boats on the mere at Thorpness. Is anyone still around who remembers Sizewell Hall, Moose, Owl et al.

    The school song, to the tune of Home Home on the Range was;

    Home home at the hall

    where the grammar don't matter at all

    where the maths makes ya cry

    and the Latin be dry

    and the boys and the girls just play ball.

    which just about summed it up.

    Spring in me step today… Bob

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