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.

Lowlands away!

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Here’s a ghost story for Halloween – the great old slow sea shanty Lowlands, with an engraving drawn from Van der Velde and photos from Geoffrey Robertshaw.

To find out more about Robertshaw and his fabulous photos of the last days of sail, click here.

For more sea songs from our friends and ourselves, click here.

PS – Like many others, I was astonished to learn that this year’s Turner Prize has been won by a sound sculpture featuring this very song.

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If the Bold Princess has sea-room, brave boys never fear!

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Perhaps the pre-eminent traditional British song about pirates

For more from intheboatshed.net on pirates, click here.