A Night on the Nene

by Freddy Headey (2013)

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It’s a fun family holiday down on the river,
We picked up our boat, she’s the Whittlesey Queen.
Spent the night in the pub, drinking rum, drinking bitter,
While mum watched the weather, saying “What does it mean?”

Chorus
From Lincoln to Ely, the rain had been falling.
For seven long days, says them in the know.
Well, we’re twenty-one tons, with a cargo of kiddies
But there’s bacon for breakfast, let the easterlies blow!

Says Dad “Come on chaps, now it’s really not frightening.
And there’s cocoa, there’s biscuits, let’s get down below.
We’re tied up secure; Ignore the thunder and lightning
We’ll be snug in our bunks. Don’t you feel that ‘warm glow’?”

Then at three in the morning Water Bailiffs came a’knocking,
“We’ve opened the sluice, with the turn of the tide.
Get yer barge-poles, get yer mopsticks! And slack off your moorings!
If you don’t look about it you’ll be left on your side.”
Chorus

So they pulled on their Goretex, they pulled on their wellies,
While Dad went up for’d, Mum went to the stern;
Kids faces at portholes “This is better than telly.”
While Mum said to Dad “Well, we live and we learn!”

So the river is dropping to save the fields a’flooding,
“They’ve to push her, they've to shove her, or be left high and dry.
Oh, panic; confusion; and five hours till the morning.
Dad said “Isn’t this is fun!?” ... Mother looked to the sky.
Chorus

Now… the kettle is singing; Oh no, we’re not dreaming;
The sun it is streaming from a sky bright and clear.
We had bacon for breakfast! Now our bow-wave is beaming
Our message to all, “We’ll be back here next year!”


Freddy wrote the song as a result of a canal themed song writing workshop with Jim Bartlett in Bollington, Cheshire.

He points out that 'Holidaymakers apparently don't realise that, though what they've rented is a canal boat, what they're moored on is part of a drainage system worked by water bailifs. If the boat is tied tight to the bank it can be left stranded if the water drops. The story came from Jim's daughter who had a similar experience on the Nene (or one of those canal/rivers on the east coast).'

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