Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sepia Saturday 66 : Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey

It was a heavy night at the pub last night. It was my turn to do the questions at the pub quiz which meant a lot of talking, indeed a lot of shouting. Ergo : a lot of drinking. So I feel a degree of sympathy with poor Bill Bailey as featured in this postcard which comes from my vintage postcard collection.

I have been dodging the Sepia Saturday theme that is set by whichever idiot chooses these things for weeks now. But given that this week he chose a public house as his archive image, and given my well-known love of public houses, I felt I had to respond. The problem is that I come from a long line of abstainers : my family tree has been watered by nothing stronger that sweet tea and glasses of dandelion and burdock. There was Uncle Harry I suppose, but the less said about that, the better.

I eventually found this card which ticks all the boxes. It features an old photograph, which features a pub. I am not sure where the card came from. I suspect I must have bought it at some stage, I can't imagine Great Uncle Fowler giving it album space amongst the hand-tinted views of Keighley Town Hall and the sweet smiles of Music Hall starlets. It is not particularly easy to interpret the back of the card : it was sent either to a Mr Munford who was a butcher who lived on Newhall Road, Sheffield, or to a Mr Munford Butcher who lived at a similar address. And what is M being told to remember? Let us simply imagine that the sender of the card was feeling a little delicate and intellectually disorientated at the time. A little like I am now.


Who was Bill Bailey, I can hear you all asking. The card was sent in 1904 which was when the song, "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey" was at the height of its popularity. Written in 1902 by the American songwriter Hughie Cannon, Bill Bailey has been a much recorded song, with covers by such great singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin and, of course, Louis Armstrong. But as for who Bill Bailey was, I have no idea and it would seem that few others have either. But whoever he was, whichever darkened room he is seeking refuge in, let him understand this - I know how he feels.

Raise a glass in celebration of the other participants in this weeks' Sepia Saturday. You can find links to all their posts on the Sepia Saturday Blog.

32 comments:

  1. I just knew the Temperance Institute had a deep relationship with your family somewhere in time past. Is it just that you fell off the waggon?

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  2. CB : Fell off the wagon? I sold the wagon and used the money raised to buy a pint or two. I think I still have my "Sons Of Temperance" membership card somewhere.

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  3. It appears that the recipient has lost an article of clothing somewhere along the way, either a shirt or a skirt. If it is a skirt, well, that raises all sorts of other questions for Mr. Munford. Perhaps it wasn't his intellect that was feeling disoriented. Anyhoo, I like that pub quiz thing. Sounds like some serious fun.

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  4. Looks like B and M abandoned Y. I feel like there I should make a graph or an algebraic formula: Y = (y-b-m).

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  5. lol...this is great! Are you sure that isn't a picture of you and the GLW? ;)

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  6. Alan, Bill Bailey was actually William Bailey Stump, my great grandfather. Mystery solved. Will send consulting fee later.

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  7. I notice that postcards of drunks invariably include either streetlights or the moon or both.
    This one also includes an intriguing mystery.

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  8. It looks like the card is really for "D," so why was it sent to "M?"

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  9. That book of pub songs that I posted about has so many more that I'd like to share. Here's one more and maybe I'll email you some more (if I can find your email address):
    Here's to Bill Johnson* (* or any name)- with sturdy vigor-
    Here's to Bill Johnson! He's true blue. He's a drunkard through and through. He's the man, the people say, Tried to go to heav'n but went the other way. So drink, chink-a-chink, chink-a-chink, chink-a-chink.(shouted-) WHOA!
    I loved the Bill Bailey card. (maybe Bill Johnson is also Bill Bailey -it said you could use any name.)
    Barbara

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  10. Every town has its own Bill Bailey I'm sure. That could be why i changed my name to Bob. (Only joking dear!)

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  11. What a fun card! I had no idea Bill Bailey went back so far.

    My Scottish grandparents were strict abstainers. I love the story my folks have told me about the time in the 1950s when we drove from our home in Chula Vista (south of San Diego near the Mexico border) to my grandparents home in Oakland. Apparently along the way we stopped at some winery and my folks had a taste. They then told me I was not to tell grandma and grandpa that they'd had some wine. So what did I do when I walked into the room at around 3 years of age? You guessed it. "Mommy and dad drank wine." Oh to have seen the chagrin on my folks faces and the tight lipped look of my grandmother.

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  12. love the black eye ( least it looks like that) on the female. Bill Bailey was one of my dad's favorite songs, I can remember hearing him sing it as he went about his day when I was a child. Thanks for the smile today Alan, the card and your post was wonderful.

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  13. Hah love the card and very appropriate, hope you're feeling a little less 'seedy' this evening.

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  14. I think they thought it sounded great to put the two names together. Bill looks like he is ready for rehab or he just had to yell to much so the questions could be heard. Have a great Saturday and Sunday. May your Monday be good too!!!

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  15. How dare you show this photograph of me when I was err, vulnerable, without my permission. It was obviously taken by a CCTV camera. I was walking past this drinking establishment when I was struck on the head by a golf ball (which you can see in the photo). The kind gentlemen in the said drinking establishment attempted to revive me by pouring whisky down my throat. Thank the Lord that my good lady wife turned up at closing time to drag me home.

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  16. Funny thing, now I've got the BB tune in my head. We used to sing it at camp long ago. :) Pubs hear do more singing than quizzing.

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  17. No way is she going to move him! It would be like trying to drag a baby elepahnt!

    I can sympathise with the way your voice felt after the pub quiz questions! Unfortunately, we have to consume non-alcoholic beverages whilst directing noisy activities in school!

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  18. Of course, that should read 'baby elephant'. I think the glass of red may be taking effect!

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  19. great! your sepia saturdays always are always great.

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  20. What a great card! Of course, that's a bit different than the story told in the song, but what does that matter. It's not on YouTube, but if you can find the version of "Bill Bailey" but the great New Orleans guitarist/banjoist/singer Danny Barker, make sure to check it out!

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  21. well, i raise my freshly poured glass of wine and BTW, say hello to the idiot with his themes. he does it right sometimes... give "him" a chance!!
    ;)~
    HUGZ

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  22. You have quite a find there. A postcard written to M - Possibly bu 007 himself!Shaken, not stirred. Or was it stirred not shaken. Whatever, it's a great post and now Bill Bailey is stuck in my head thankyouverymuch. Think I'll have three fingers of Dewar's to dull the pain of it all.

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  23. @ MUSE SWINGS:
    stirred, not shaken!!
    :)~

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  24. Oh this is a great postcard...so witty one could be with that photo! I loved hearing about your pub visits and how you think you came across this postcard..and yes I do know that song....it's actually kind of catchy! Thanks for such a delightful read!

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  25. I notice the card was printed in Holmfirth. Could this card have been sent by one of Compo's forebears?

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  26. Ha. Your post this week reminds me of mine. We've both been trying to solve the mystery of what was written on our postcards. Weren't those messages of the past similar to the current tweets? Just a few words to convey their thoughts.
    Nancy
    Ladies of the grove

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  27. Firstly, don't be too hard on the idiot who chooses the weekly themes as I was able to go along with it this week.
    Your post is wonderful but it leaves me wondering if someone has lost a skirt!

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  28. As he is a Butcher, 'skirt' would probably be the economy-cut of beef. Presumably, the poor wife was at home waiting to make some wholesome stew. Has she lost this husband as she lost the previous one - to the 'demon' drink? A tragic story illustrating the perils of heavy drinking - but I did enjoy it! Cheers.

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  29. The cryptic messages on the old post cards are nearly as wonderful, if not more than the images!

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  30. ish a greabt carpt..realy it ish...did yu shee a wagn roun her?

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  31. Alan, you and your commenters made me laugh with this post. I wish I knew the story behind the writing on the postcard. Surely there would be a tale to tell.

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  32. I Have This Image Of Mr Bailey Sat In Some Pub Somewhere:And Mrs Bailey Sat At Home.They Only Communicate Via Postcard With Each Other."Your Dinners In The Bin/Oven .." And Suchlike...........

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