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Family Business

Were any stories passed down in the family abut the way your grandfather was collected from at the turn of the century, and the lady who did it?

Bob Copper 1984
Bob Copper 1984 (Photo: I. Anderson)
B.C. They'd forgotten all about it. It was after we'd startd broadcasting and working with the BBC, through Dad's letter that I'd made him write to them. Frank Collinson, who did all the music for Country Magazine, came down and told Dad "I've found out that your father and his brother were made honorary founder members of the English Folk Song Society in 1897. There was a lady called Mrs Kate Lee who collected them in Rottingdean." And then the old man said "Well, I remember that very well, now you mention it." But it hadn't been handed down in the family at all. Don't think that Ron and me as kids were brought up thinking our grandfathers were this or that. We existed! Then Dad said "Oh yes, I remember my old dad and uncle Tom going to old Teddy Carson's house" - that was Sir Edward Carson - "and there was some woman up there that put a bottle of scotch on the table, a decanter of water and two glasses, and she wouldn't let 'em go until they'd finished the scotch." But we never knew that until after the BBC reminded him.

Alcohol does seem to have had a good effect on the Copper Family!

J.C. Oh yes, joking aside, it has been a congealing force in the whole family. We couldn't do it on tea, you know! We've done some afternoon jobs on tea and found it hard to be enthusiastic about them! You don't have to get tight, but a couple of drinks takes the edge off, you relax into it.

B.C. We used to say "every song a drink"; didn't mean to say a full drink, a top-up from the jug.

J.C. The songs were primarily sung in the tap room. And there has nearly always been a Copper licensee. My great grandfather Brasser's brother had the Black Horse.

B.C. And Ron and I married into pubs, so John was born into it, poor chap!


This feature first appeared in issue 20 of The Southern Rag (the original title of fRoots) in April 1984.

 

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