Paddy West really existed, and this forebitter is substantially true. Paddy was a Liverpool crimp (supplier of seamen to ships needing crews) and notorious boarding house keeper. He provided vessels with ‘fully qualified’ sailors after a crash course in his attic and back yard - ideal for country bumpkins who didn’t know one end of a ship from another, or men desperate to run away to sea for whatever reason - with the aid of a ship’s wheel in the yard, and a wife who threw buckets of water over his recruits, to acclimatise them to a tough life at sea. He never actually told lies - his graduates truly had crossed the line, or rounded the Horn - but not quite in the way the Captain might have imagined! He’d often bribe the Mate to place his recruits on opposite watches, so he only had to provide one set of oilskins between two.
As I was walkin' down London Road, I come to Paddy West's house,
He gave me a dish of American hash; he called it Liverpool scouse,
He said " There's a ship and she's wantin' hands, and on her you must sign,
The mate's a bastard, the skipper's worse, but sure, she’ll suit you fine."
Take off yer dungaree jacket,
and give yerself a rest,
And we'll think of them cold nor'westers
that we had at Paddy West.
When we had finished our dinner, boys, the wind began to blow.
Paddy sent me up to the attic, the main-royal for to stow,
But when I got to the attic, no main-royal could I find,
So I turned myself round to the window, and I furled the window blind.
Now Paddy he pipes all hands on deck, their stations for to man.
His wife she stood in the doorway, with a bucket in her hand;
And Paddy he cries, "Now let her rip!" and she throws the water our way,
Cryin' "Clew in the fore t'gan'sl, boys, she's takin' on the spray!"
Now seein' she's bound for the south'ard, to Frisco she was bound;
Paddy he takes a length of rope, and he lays it on the ground,
We all steps over, and back again, and he says to me "That's fine,
And if ever they ask were you ever at sea you can say you 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 horn do lay
And if ever they ask "Was you ever at sea?" you can say "Ten times round the Horn"
And BeJesus you're an old sailor man from the day that you was born.
Put on yer dungaree jacket,
And walk out lookin' yer best,
And tell 'em that you're an old sailor man
That's come from Paddy West.