We learnt this from A.L. Lloyd’s singing on the fantastic Blow Boys Blow album. He wrote that Paddy West “was a Liverpool boarding-house keeper in the latter days of sail, who provided ship captains with crews, as a side-line. He would guarantee that every man he supplied had crossed the Line and been round the Horn several times. In order to say so with a clear conscience, he gave greenhorns a curious course in seamanship, described in this jesting ballad. It was a great favourite with “Scouse” (Liverpool) sailors.”
Paddy West (Roud 3092)
When, as I was walkin’ down London Road I came to Paddy West’s house,
He gave me a feed of American hash and he called it Liverpool scouse.
He said “There’s a ship that’s taking hands, and on her you must sign.
The mates’ a bastard, the captains worse and they will do you fine.”
Take off your dungaree jackets and give yourselves a rest,
And we’ll think on them cold nor’ westers we had at Paddy West’s.
Now Paddy he pipes all hands on deck, their stations for to man
His wife stood in the doorway with a bucket in her hand
And Paddy cries “Now let ‘er rip!” and she threw the water our way
Crying “Clew up your fore t’gan’sl, boys, she’s takin’ on the spray!”
Now seeing she’s off to the southward to Frisco she was bound,
Paddy he takes out a length of rope and he lays it on the ground.
We all stepped over and back again and he says to me “That’s fine,
And if they ask were you ever at sea you can say you’ve crossed the Line.”
“There’s just one thing for you to do before you sail away,
Just step around the table, where the bullock’s horns do lay.
If they ever ask ‘Were you ever at sea?’, you can say, ’Ten times round the Horn.’
Bejesus you’re an old sailor man from the day that you were born.”
Put on your dungaree jacket, and walk out looking your best,
And tell them you’re an old sailor man that comes from Paddy West’s.