The 'Orrible Trip

by David Blagrove (1970)


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Oh! The weather was cold and the engine was old,
And the butty boat started to leak,
And we hit Smethwick pier 'cos me mate couldn’t steer
And we didn't get washed for a week!

Well, I'll tell you a tale of me days under sail,
'Tis a story that chills to the marrer,
For there's no wind or tide blowing o'er the sea side,
Just a gust where the cut's a bit narrer.

Our womenfolk brave gave us a great wave
As we started that journey historic,
But we ran out of soap at the Cape of Good Hope,
That's the name of the boozer at Warwick.

Well, in Netherton Tunnel he fell off the gunn'l,
The names that he called me was shocking.
He fell up to his chest in the BCN's best
And he smelt like a sewerman's stocking.

The weather was fine as we left the main line
And we turned at the Ocker Hill cooler;
From Rider's Green to the New Thirteen
The cut runs as straight as a ruler.

But the folks round about, when they chuck rubbish out
To fill up the cut they think clever;
Where the bridge-holes were worst we muttered and cursed
And shouted ‘West Bromwich for ever!’

We didn't get far going down Perry Barr,
Where the paddle-gear just wouldn't function;
And after a while we got under the pile
That the locals call ‘Spaghetti Junction’.

Down Curd'orth and Min'orth we hadn't a penn'orth
Of sunshine; so much did we lack it
That we followed a star which led to the bar
Of a pub called the ‘Dog in a Jacket’.

At four in the morning, before day was dawning,
And me mate some shuteye was grabbing,
His mattress was floating and he was a-boating
The coal-box the length of the cabin!

Well, the boat struck a rock by the Charity Dock,
And we felt we'd had enough glory;
Before ‘e said ‘No!’, we’d left it with Joe:
And that is the end of me story.

David Blagrove in the sleeve notes to 'Straight from the Tunnel's Mouth' wrote : This relates to an actual and disasterous trip around the Black Country which took place in 1970. I can guarantee that all the incidents recounted are true.
David has informed me that there was a third verse, which would nowadays be omitted on the grounds that it might be construed as racist.

With no soap at all and a chimney pipe tall
We got covered in smuts black and tacky.
And folks up in Brum thought Fijians had come
And reckoned my mate was a Paki

David points out that it wasn't intentionally racist. The song was written in 1970 and the word 'paki' only acquired offensive connotations when it was used around that time by British tabloids to refer to subjects of former colony states in a derogatory and racist manner.
This was intended to be sung to the Lord Chancellor's song from Gilbert ‘Sullivan's 'Iolanthe'.

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