The Tangled Prop 1

by Johnny Handle (1991)

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Chorus :
Yer just enjoyin' yer boatin', when yer spirits start te drop,
'Cos ye know by the sound of yer Lister, ye've got a tangled prop.

A narrow boat with a 'Lister', will run and run all day,
From town to town, and up and down, when yer lockin' all the way;
But when that steady old throb... turns into a splutter,
Ye'll hear the skipper cursin’, as he starts te mutter.

Knitting needles, shopping trolleys, hawser twine and wire,
A bit of ancient bleezer from some owld bodies fire;
Dead cats and dogs and rabbits, strings from an old banjo,
They're all collected round our prop, and still it tries to go.

So early in the morning as Aa'm lying in me pit,
Aa hear the skipper yelp, Aa thowt he'd had a fit;
"Hawaay ye lazy beggar, oot of there ye must hop",
Get yer arm doon in the box, 'cos we've got a tangled prop.

Crouched and bent ower double, wi' me hand deep in the cut,
Too many pints lost neet, the message from me gut;
Freezin' watter roond me arm, pullin' up and doon',
Aagh! Dropped the pliers in...that'll mek him froon.

When ye go on through Tysely, Haymills and Small Heath,
Ye'll find a deal of garbage, lying there underneath:
But there's a lot less than there used te be, as onward ye might float,
Cost most got tangled round the prop, that's drivin' our old boot!

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.