The Watford Flight

by Johnny Handle (1992)

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Chorus:
A'm standin' by me boat at the Watford flight, waitin' te go down,
There's fifteen others like me, all standin' with a frown;
But there's twelve down at the bottom, waitin' te come up here,
It's very gregarious, boatin', when a flight of locks appears.

Ye travel for miles on the contours, with never a hitch or stop,
The fields and woods pass by so smooth, till ye come up to a lock;
Then it's not so bad for single ones, we can all take in our stride,
But ye can get blocked at a flight of locks, as the time goes passing by.

There's some that's cooking dinner, and others supping tea,
Then there's the late breakfastin' crowd, boozers just like me;
We can't get by any further, so we'll just have to sit tight,
And wait our turn and take no harm, at the top of the Watford flight.

But here's a nasty bag of tricks, some boats have just got stuck,
Rammed each other half way up, just our rotten luck;
Aa can hear the shouts and swearing, we'd best keep out o' the way,
Time to open a couple of bottles we'd kept for another day!

If folks keep buyin' narrowboats, and others hiring craft,
There'll not be room for the ducks te swim, and the fishermen will go daft;
Aa'm gonna start engineering, Aa hope it's not in vain?
Bypass all the locks wi' liftin' gear, like the Foxton inclined plane.

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.
This song was written at the top of the Watford Flight, April 1992
Tune: 'Patsy Fagan'