I knew there was something about Julie when she walked in the room about ten minutes or so into the session. She sang a couple of songs including The King of Rome from Dave Sudbury's enchanting book, and I knew I had to ask her to join our choir. She has an an absolutely fabulous voice, and I was bowled over right from the off.
During the interval I introduced myself and found out we share a real passion for making bread - Julie runs a community bakery - and actively promotes the connection between singing and baking. Please take a look at her blog Eat Bake Sing - you'll be amazed at what she gets up to. She also invited me to one of her workshops, so can't wait till we organise that.
King of Rome was a pigeon, owned by a Mr. C. H. Hudson, who won a race from Italy to England in 1913. He flew, bless him, all the way from Rome to Derby, a distance of 1,001 miles. No surprise that only 62 of the 1,200 released birds made it back to Blighty. The little fella lived to a ripe old age and died in 1958. He's subsequently had a radio play written about him, and been immortalised in print and song.
Here are two quite different versions of the song. The first, sung unaccompanied by Lucy Ward, is how you'll probably hear it in most folk clubs:
The Unthanks (I have rather a soft spot for the Unthank sisters), on the other hand, give it the full brass treatment courtesy of the Brighouse & Rastrick Band. Excellent versions both.
Not forgetting little Poppy-May