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This jolly song is surprisingly rare, having been collected once in Suffolk, once in Yorkshire and several times in Gloucestershire, but curiously never in Somerset. Nothing is known of the song’s origins, but it may date from around 1900 and is in the ‘mock rustic’ style. Apart from Mr Ellaway’s version, incomplete versions were noted from Bill Cooper (Witcombe) and Reg Hannis (Cranham). Reg and Bill knew each other and may have learnt the song from the same source.
There is a fourth verse which Reg knew incompletely. It is:
We had plenty of fun Climbing that pole but the pole was so greasy Folks kept falling down flop Trying to get to the bacon on top Young Sam [Jarvis] So silly and soft Said as he gazed on the bacon aloft “’Pon my soul, I’ll climb that pole” The people all shouted “You’re up it already” At Somerset Fair, derry-oh erry At Somerset Fair, derry down there. Though the pole was greasy To get the bacon was easy But the weather was breezy It blew down the pole, I declare Sam got the top but he tumbled down flop And he fell on his bacon at Somerset Fair.