Portrait of George Borrow

Christmas 2014

The Hereford Arms, Gloucester Road, Brompton, London On 6th December 2014 around twenty Borrovians and friends met at the Hereford Arms in Gloucester Road, Brompton, London, for the George Borrow Society Christmas Dinner.  This is the first year we have been to the Hereford Arms for Christmas, having previously been to the Golden Lion.  Many took the opportunity to look at George Borrow’s house, 22 Hereford Square, which faces the Hereford Arms across the beautiful garden in the centre of Hereford Square.

We were particularly delighted that John Hentges and his music teacher, Heather, sang three of Borrow’s translations (printed in Songs of Scandinavia):

•  The Maids of Merion by Hugh Morris (see Wild Wales, Chapter 55)

•  Mollie Charane (see Gutenberg 27408)

•  The Squint-Eyed Lady (see below)

John and Heather have fine voices and “performed” the translations as much as they sang - we’ll all be careful when visiting Barmouth in future!  George Borrow was particularly attached to his translations, and although these were not published in his lifetime, it was a pleasure to think of Borrow’s ghost listening to his beloved translations, being set to music for the first time, and being premiered in the pub opposite his house of 14 years.

Hereford Square Garden, Brompton, London, December 2014

John hopes to record the ballads with others in the coming year in addition to his existing George Borrow CDs — when available we’ll provide details on that page.

A number of our members were unable to attend and so it was with some poignancy that Tim proposed a toast “to absent friends.”  Although not present, they were remembered and missed.

Our hosts at the Hereford Arms looked after us wonderfully, and the meal was very enjoyable - no doubt we’ll be back.  It was so nice to meet up with friends and chat over Borrow.

As many asked whether the Hereford Arms was a public house when Borrow was there (it was), we’ve started a page with a bit of background.

Members of the George Borrow Society at Christmas lunch, 2014

The Squint-Eyed Lady

The text of this translation appeared in The Songs of Scandinavia and Other Poems and Ballads, Volume 3, pp. 250–1, Norwich Edition.  Since it’s hard to come by, here are the lyrics for those interested:

There is a squint-eyed Lady,
   Who in Barmouth doth reside;
She keeps a beer-and-brandy shop,
   Though she in a coach doth ride.

Outspoke the squint-eyed Lady:
    ‘It would me much avail,
If you would but deal with me
   For a single pint of ale.

‘For appearances I must keep up,
   Which most expensive are,
For my husband is a parson,
   Although I’m at the bar.

‘And I have a son called Rufus,
   And a genteel son is he,
And I cannot allow him less
   A week than shillings three.

‘I must give balls and concerts
   And keep my coach and man;
Therefore I pray you’ll deal with me,
   As much as e’er you can.

And that you’ll remember me
   To all your kith and kin,
For I’m not above retailing
   A single glass of gin.’

Then hey for the squint-eyed Lady,
   She has so little pride;
She’ll beg for custom for her shop,
   Though she in a coach doth ride.