Aa'm Sick of Narrowboats

by Johnny Handle (1993)

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"Aa'm sick of narrowboats", said the fellow in the hirecraft,
Aa've paid a small fortune for the wild and lonely ways;
But Aa've bumped a bridge or two, and the truth Aa'm tellin' you,
Aa think Aa'll go to Spain, for next year's holidays.

So he went away and sulked, yes, he went away and sulked,
But he sat and thought a bit about it all;
Then came a change of season, and he found another reason,
To come back down to the old canal.

"Aa'm sick of hire craft, said the proud boat owner,
With polished brass, and varnished pine deck;
For they pollute my canal, with silly hats and luny staring,
They think they're driving speed boats, they really have some neck."

"Aa'm sick of narrowboats", said the old pike fisherman,
"Aa just get me float out when the boats come rivin' by;
And they wave and say they're sorry, leaving me to worry,
About the fish that got away, is it really worth a try?"

"Aa'm sick of narrowboats", said the tired old lock keeper,
"It's up all hours and people who give you little thanks;
They're like a Chelsea party, all dressed up as smarties,
And they rive away like sports cars, washing down the path and banks

"Aa'm sick of narrowboats", said the jogger on the towpath,
'Aa've tripped up over mooring ropes, and sleeping fishermen,
For me fitness concentration, is constantly abatin'
As they say, 'Jolly good, keep going, man, it drives ye round the bend."

"Aa'm sick of narrowboats", said the craftsman in the boatyard,
"They try te get their boats for nowt, and never praise me skill;
It fills iss full of malice, when Aa've just turned out a palace,
And they say, 'It might just do, a leisure space to fill'."

"Aa'm sick of narrowboats", said the twitcher with the glasses,
As he ticked off six new species of warblers in the nest;
For the boats they're all over, and me rare spotted plover,
Has emigrated to Scotland, and wears a woolly vest!"

"Aa'm sick of narrowboats", said the suited man from Whitehall
They interfere with my strategy, national standardisation plans;
Motorway development, increased road usage,
I'd fill all cuts in, if I can.

So the joggers, fisherman, boatbuilders, and boat owners,
Twitchers, hire craft leisure folks, to a woman and a man,
Just opened up a new section, and threw him in the water....
Saying.. "Stop us if ye can, YES, stop us if ye can!"

I am indebted to Johnny Handle who has taken the time to provide me with printed copies of his canal songs. Johnny has written many songs, mainly about coal mining and his native north-east of England - an area deprived of canals. More details of Johnny Handle's work can be found on his website and Pete Wood has recently (2017) written his biography. Johnny has labelled this as 'Recitation?' so it may work better spoken rather than sung.