The Ballad of Bethnal Green: Paddy Roberts

I’ll tell a tale of a jealous male and a maid of sweet sixteen
She was blonde and dumb and she lived with her Mum
On the edge of Bethnal Green
She worked all week for a rich old Greek
Her old man was on the dole
And her one delight on a Friday night
Was to have a bit of rock and roll.

Chorus To my rit-fal-lah, to my itty-fal-lal
To my itty-bitty-fal-dal day.

Then one fine day in the Month of May she found her big romance
He was smart and sleek, with a scar on his cheek
And a pair of drainpipe pants
And she thought ‘with you, I could be so true,
Through all the years to come’
For she loved the gay abandoned way
He chewed his chewing-gum.


It started well because he fell for all her girlish charms
But he had some doubt when he caught her out
In someone else’s arms
And he said, “Look here, you know my dear,
This is going a bit too far
And he went quite white and he sloshed her right
In the middle of her cha-cha-cha.


So he went before a man of the law who said, “This will not do
I’ve had about enough of this kind of stuff
As I want from the likes of you.”
And she was peeved when he received
A longish term in clink
In a fit of pique she married the Greek
And now she lives in mink.


Slum street in Bethnal Green, circa 1900

The song was written by Paddy Roberts in 1959.

About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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