I’m not sure if it’s just me that gets a bit intrigued by stories that inspire songs. This one’s a bit convoluted, I was watching Sharpe on some random Freeview channel and rifleman Daniel Hagman was singing a traditional folk song about poachers in Rufford Park. I googled it, I even messaged Ken about it as it brought Crime and Punishment to mind and well, one Google search leads to another and you end up with this!
Plus I’ve not written anything about Ferocious Dog, my principle subject matter, for quite a while, have I? I touched on the back story of the song back when I first wrote about the album – the star of the song, Bill Sykes, actually being a relative of Ken’s – and probably would’ve faded into obscurity as a historical figure were it not for the discovery of letters his wife wrote to him after he’d been transported out to Australia.
You see – Bill Sykes did have a wife (children he had four, too!) – and well, it’s pretty safe to assume that he didn’t see them no more as well. You can read Myra Sykes’ letters in full here thanks to Wikisource – initially sent to Portsmouth prison where he spent a couple of years before being transported aboard the Norwood (Barry, are you reading this? I’m sure we were discussing the name of the ship outside Newbury!). You can even read Bill’s own diary of the voyage here, too.