Aboard the Lucy Megan

by Peter Clement © 2019

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You slip your morning mooring as the mist begins to lift
Take a seat at bow or stern - to take your ease - you've earned it
Sun may beam or rain may spill
Bottle-bottom on the water
But it's just a steady pace until the lock ahead.. when

Up she rises - or down she goes
That's decided by the way the water flows
You swing back the lock gate to go the way you chose..
Up she rises - or down she goes

The contours of the country dictate the straights and curves
Each field and factory that glides by - tells a story - tells you why
A thousand navvies dug the cut
Muscle, shovel, barrow
But it's just a steady pace until the lock ahead.. when

Refrain

You take turns on the tiller - take turns to make the tea
Passers by call hello - you give a wave as on you go
Here's a warehouse here's a crane
Once a working wharf
But it's just a steady pace until the lock ahead.. when

Refrain

When boats were for work and carried cargo
They would be a family's floating home
Cheek by jowl where the toil would take them
Hauled by donkey, horse, man or mule

Each bridge has number every town a tale to tell
From your narrow boat you cast your eyes on an ever-changing wide horizon
Quiet meadow or roaring road
Soon are just a memory
But It's just a steady pace until the lock ahead.. when

Refrain

There'd be a few bright bits in the cabin
A Measham teapot taking pride of place
Roses and castles for decoration
And a horse's tail hanging from the stern

As dusk drapes a cloak and the colours go to grey
You seek a place to spend the night - moor up in the fading light
Silence settles - mist returns
Becalmed until tomorrow then
It will be steady pace until the lock ahead - when

Refrain

Notes from the song writer :

I grew up as the youngest of six children of a tenant farmer of a smallholding.

I’ve always been keenly aware of the disconnect between some peoples’ rose-tinted view of countryside life and the reality of dawn-to-dusk hard physical work.

So it was when I joined my brother on the narrow boat he built [the eponymous Lucy Megan] on the Montgomery canal. As we glided through the wonderful countryside of the Welsh Marches I was acutely aware of the canal-side clues indicating the effort expended both on its construction and its working past.

As the boat negotiated a lock and I opened the ground paddle ‘up she rises – or down she goes’ came into my head and was committed to the piece of paper I always carry. The rest followed as the ‘steady pace’ allowed me plenty of time to spot the canal-side clues that echoed the lives of those who made a living digging and working that particular ‘cut’.

I live a few miles from Measham which gave its name to the elaborate tea pots mentioned in the song and favoured by those who made their homes aboard working canal boats.
Pete Clement