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Define: Pincher laddies

DigiTrad:
McALPINE'S FUSILIERS


Related threads:
Lyr Req: McAlpine's Fusiliers (57)
(origins) Origins: McAlpine's Fusiliers (Dominic Behan?) (63)
ADD Tune/Lyr Req: McAlpine's Fusiliers (26)
Lyr Req: McAlpine's Fusiliers (16) (closed)
Lyr Req: McAlpine's Fusiliers (24) (closed)


GEST 20 Jul 08 - 07:24 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Jul 08 - 02:45 AM
GEST 21 Jul 08 - 08:13 AM
GEST 21 Jul 08 - 08:53 AM
GUEST 21 Jul 08 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,ultan cowley 21 Jul 08 - 05:27 PM
GEST 21 Jul 08 - 06:33 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Jul 08 - 04:48 AM
hobo 22 Jul 08 - 05:27 AM
Teribus 22 Jul 08 - 07:10 AM
GEST 22 Jul 08 - 09:01 AM
Teribus 22 Jul 08 - 10:18 AM
hobo 22 Jul 08 - 11:03 AM
hobo 22 Jul 08 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Paddywack 22 Jul 08 - 04:53 PM
hobo 23 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM
Gulliver 23 Jul 08 - 10:23 PM
Teribus 24 Jul 08 - 03:31 AM
mayomick 24 Jul 08 - 08:07 AM
hobo 24 Jul 08 - 05:30 PM
olddude 24 Jul 08 - 07:47 PM
MartinRyan 24 Jul 08 - 07:59 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Jul 08 - 03:19 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Jul 08 - 03:27 PM
hobo 25 Jul 08 - 04:32 PM
Barry Finn 26 Jul 08 - 01:31 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jul 08 - 02:28 AM
Zen 26 Jul 08 - 02:10 PM
GUEST,Paddwack 27 Jul 08 - 08:39 AM
GUEST,mayomick 27 Jul 08 - 11:43 AM
hobo 27 Jul 08 - 01:01 PM
MartinRyan 27 Jul 08 - 01:24 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Jul 08 - 02:04 PM
GUEST 27 Jul 08 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,ythanside 27 Jul 08 - 02:34 PM
MartinRyan 27 Jul 08 - 03:00 PM
MartinRyan 27 Jul 08 - 03:10 PM
MartinRyan 27 Jul 08 - 03:12 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Jul 08 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,mayomick 30 Jul 08 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Paddywack 30 Jul 08 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,mayomick 01 Aug 08 - 08:44 AM
MartinRyan 01 Aug 08 - 09:41 AM
MartinRyan 01 Aug 08 - 09:57 AM
ard mhacha 02 Aug 08 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,Paddywack 02 Aug 08 - 07:58 AM
mayomick 02 Aug 08 - 08:40 AM
MartinRyan 04 Aug 08 - 02:12 PM
MartinRyan 04 Aug 08 - 03:16 PM
MartinRyan 04 Aug 08 - 03:20 PM
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Subject: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GEST
Date: 20 Jul 08 - 07:24 PM

As used in McAlpine's Fusiliers:

'Twas in the year of thirty-nine, when the sky was full of lead,
When Hitler was heading for Poland, and Paddy for Holyhead;
Come all you pincher laddies and you long-distance men,
Don't ever work for McAlpine, for Wimpey, or John Laing.

Cheers,

GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jul 08 - 02:45 AM

The Pincher Kiddies were the old-time navvies; the building trade equivalent of the the 'Shellback' - the sailors who had no homes other than the ships they sailed in.
This is a good description of them from, 'The Men Who Built Britain; The history of the Irish Navvy', by Ultan Cowley:

Pincher Kiddies
Bill Brennan (who found a home in Arlington House and a place in the British Medical Journal as the only individual on record with ten clubbed fingers, smashed on site) came under the influence of the old 'Pincher Kiddies' as a youth. He learned the techniques of tramping from them, in England, in the 1940s:
The Pinchers never advised any of us younger men, 'Learn a trade, don't settle for this'.... They'd never take another man's tools.... Each had his own, washed and spotless, tied up with a leather strap — their own 'graft', fork, foot-iron.... These were often pawned in Ryan's of Warren Street on a Saturday. The foot-iron was a great thing; you strapped this strip of steel under your boot between sole and heel to protect the leather from the digging. Out in a place like High Wycombe, flinty ground, boots without the foot-iron wouldn't last a week.
They had a kit bag, with a billycan, and a ball of twine and a six-inch nail for hanging up your billycan when you were sleepin' out. The best place to 'skipper up' [sleep out] was always under a palm tree — the water was all carried out to the ends of the leaves and wouldn't drip down on your clothes. The old Pinchers always told me, 'When you're in a town, always walk to the kerb, not near the doors, so if someone comes out at you, you can dodge'....
They knew where everyone was — if there was a job, they'd tell you, better than today. But they had the wanderlust — no matter how good the money, or the job, how well they were treated, for no reason they might say, 'I'm jackin'— I'm off. He might be diggin', you might be chasin', and he'd just look, up.... Ah, it's time I was movin' on', and he'd jus; walk away.... You mightn't meet him again for two or three years.
They were a great race of people — a mighty people. Regimental men — not educated, but they knew their work ... better than any machine today. Neat, and tidy, and yet they'd maybe be sleepin', under hedges. You'd know them by the neck-scarf and the moleskins, and the 'Yorks', and the hobnail boots.
Jim Gallagher also commented on the legendary footloose character of the Long-Distance Men, with whom he worked in the 1950s, saying that such a man might be beside him in the trench, when,
The head would come up, and look around, and he'd reach over for his jacket, and be ready for the off, like the mountain ewe [the nomadic hill-country sheep of the west of Ireland].
These men were unsuited to the new-style hostel accommodation, which was run along military lines, and often staffed by ex-servicemen. Only the Rowton Houses, such as Arlington, still retained to some degree the sort of semi-charitable system that had characterised the pre-war lodgings of the tramping fraternity.
A lot of men went into digs that shouldn't have been there at all — they'd wet the beds, an' all that, they couldn't help it. The 'Pincher Kiddies' — the 'Mile¬stone Inspectors', their kidneys were weak from years of sleepin' out under hedges.

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GEST
Date: 21 Jul 08 - 08:13 AM

Thank-you, Jim. That answer is chock full of information. When you wrote "pincher kiddies" does that mean the words in the song in the DigiTrad as well as many other sources should not be "Pincher Laddies", but "pincher kiddies"? And is there a need to capitalize pincher - is it a locale or a formal name of some sort?

Cheers,

GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GEST
Date: 21 Jul 08 - 08:53 AM

If Pincher laddies and Pincher kiddies are interchangeable than a Google search also found the following:

Pincher kiddies - men who worked for 'The Pincher Mac', whose name was MacNicholas, per Paul O'Brien of Dublin, Ireland, as published in the glossary errata of The Essential Ewan McColl Songbook, sixty years of songmaking by Peggy Seeger ©2001.

Cheers,

GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jul 08 - 12:01 PM

GEST:
I have always heard the term 'Pincher Kiddies' - never come across 'Laddies, or the MacNicholas reference, but I always knew Paul O'Brien to be reliable. Cowley's book seems to bear out the 'Pincher'MacNicholas explanation, though in Hiberno-English, Pincher is given as a whinger, a petty, 'crabbid' individual.
Thanks for the question - it reminded me how good Cowley's book is - I'm going to re-read it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,ultan cowley
Date: 21 Jul 08 - 05:27 PM

Hi All

      Gest brought this discussion to my attention & invited me to comment.

Paul O'Brien is mistaken about the derivation of the Term 'Pincher Kiddie'; it was conferred on 'Pincher' Mac because of his tight-fistedness and sharp practices - i.e., restricting trench shuttering to Two Down & One Across, stealing lorry jacks, stacked on railway sleepers, to demolish to concrete roofs of bomb shelters on contracts after the war, etc., but it long pre-dated him. The inter-changeable use of 'Laddies' is erroneous...

The Pinchers were true Tramp Navvies, in the great Railway Navvy tradition, with a fierce pride and independence unmatched by any of the post-war Irish in British construction. It was said to me by an East End taxi driver who was boy at the time that many amongst the last Pinchers died of exposure sheltering under the railway viaducts in London during the Big Freeze of 1963.

As someone who tramped the roads of Europe as a youth in the early 'Sixties, hitch hiking and sleeping rough, I have a great fondness for such free spirits and I think to some extent it was my empathy with that 'outsider' mentality which persuaded so many navvies to open up to me. Beat, Vagrant, Busker or Navvy -we all knew the joy of free men under an open sky!

My current project is collecting the reminiscences of 20C. UK-based Irish labourers and its interesting to find so many 'younger' men, veterans of the '80s, and Irish-Descent children of first-generation navvies, making contact with their stories and using the internet to do so.

In the Autumn I'm launching a one man multimedia production with the title, 'The Craic was good in Cricklewood: Songs and Stories of the Irish Navvies' - An Entertainment with a Sting in the Tail, which I hope to tour in the UK and maybe elsewhere. Inquiries welcome!

Best to all

Ultan Cowley


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GEST
Date: 21 Jul 08 - 06:33 PM

My bad, Ultan ~

I'm the one who suggested the possible interchangeability of 'kiddies' and 'laddies' in trying to find a reason for 'Pincher laddies' in so many variants of McAlpine's Fusiliers. I think my opening sentence about kiddies and laddies being interchangeable in that post confused the matter.

So what did Dominic Behan really write? It appears thus far that we must assume 'Pincher laddies' as sung by the Sons of Erin and many others is incorrect and Pecker Dunne's variant with 'Pincher kiddies' is correct, as Behan wrote it.

All the rest can be attributed to the folk process at work, eh? :-)

Click on this link and you can watch a YouTube video along with the lyrics by the Sons of Erin: McAlpine's Fusiliers.

There's no doubt the term used is 'Pincher laddies'.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 04:48 AM

Ultan,
Thanks for your intervention.
I have always been interested in the life led by the navvies, and your book did much to put flesh on the bones of the subject.
My father went off to work on the roads in the forties after being blacklisted from his old job because he had fought in Spain.
A neighbour and friend in London, the late Paddy Boyle, from Ardaragh in Donegal used to give wonderful accounts of his time as a navvy; it was he who gave me the explanation of the term 'hot-bed'.
He said that some of the landladies would rent out the bed rather than the room, and while one man was working his shift another would be sleeping in the bed - which never got cold.
Don't know if this is true or folklore.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: hobo
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 05:27 AM

Gest

   I'll have to work on this one - my acquaintance with the term 'pincher' originated with oral interviews and I just accepted it without question as part of the navvies' jargon ('can do better', as the teachers say!).

I correspond occasionally with Sir William ('Bill' as he likes to sign himself!) MacAlpine so I'll ask his opinion; the family take great pride in their long association with Irish labour, their Scottish ancestry notwithstanding.

On a related point: I was researching pictures in the MacAlpine HQ in Hemel Hempstead one afternoon when I first met Bill. He'd obviously dined well, and was feeling expansive, so we sang a few verses of the eponymous song together at his invitation - much to the consternation of the office staff!

Interestingly, he insisted that the classic Behan/Dubliners' version was a derivation of an earlier song, and could quote lines in support of his argument. I didn't know enough to argue...About two years ago however, I was researching work songs of migrant labour when I met the musician and collector Joe Byrne of Aghamore in East Mayo, and he knew that facts of the case.

Apparently MacAlpine's Fusiliers was written (but not copyrighted!) by one Martin Henry of Rooskey, near Doocastle in East Mayo, probably sometime in the 'Fifties. Martin, like men over many generations in that part of Mayo, had for many years been a Spailpin or seasonal harvester/farm labourer in England and, again like many others, had gravitated into construction in search of work.

It was commonplace for such men to write doggerel verse about their experiences and put it to traditional airs (as in so many manual occupations) and there are a lot of similar but less familiar songs known to Irish collectors.

One very significant fact which supports this is the line:
'I stripped to the skin with the Darky Finn
Way down in the Isle of Grain'

The Darky Finn was a neighbour of Martin Henry and lived in Cloontia, near Doocastle. The Isle of Grain project, as readers of The men who built Britain will know, entailed construction of an oil terminal, refinery, and power station over almost ten years between the late 'Fifties and early 'Sixties.

I suspect that Dominic added to the song and saw its commercial potential...such is life! Martin is dead but his sister still lives.

Ultan


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Teribus
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 07:10 AM

"I was there the day that the Bear of O'Shea,
He fell into a concrete stairs;"

The character referred in the first line came from the fishing port of Castletown Bear Haven more commonly known as Castletownbere. The line should read:

"I was there the day that the 'Bere O'Shea,"

I met one of the man's relations while staying in Castletownbere working on the salvage operation mounted after the tanker "Betelgeuse" blew up alongside at Whiddy Island in January 1979.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GEST
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 09:01 AM

So many doors have been opened into the background of the Fusiliers by this thread that it seems musical history needs to be rewritten. ~grin~

For example, the name primarily used here is MacAlpine, not McAlpine. If one were to search Google for either spelling the results would be about 63 references to MacAlpine's Fusiliers and a mere 8,450 to McAlpine's Fusiliers. As a Libran my scales are certainly out of balance.

Teribus' comment about Bere vs. Bear O'Shea is likewise befuddling. What would the name Bere mean vs. perhaps a great nickname like Bear for a construction worker in a song?

Mired in lyrics - GEST


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Teribus
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 10:18 AM

Befuddling? No quite logical really, particularly if you had a number of people with the surname O'Shea, the system of differentiating between them by the place they came from is quite common.

While our cousins across the far side of the pond might go in for knicknames such as "Bear", all that would mean to most over this side is some clown setting himself up for a bloody good hidin' every week-end.

Still believe whatever, as I said, I got it from one of the man's relations, absolutely no skin off my nose whether he lied or not, I just cannot see for the life of me why he should, or would, lie about something so pointless and inconsequential.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: hobo
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 11:03 AM

Gest

    Like the two spellings whisky & whiskey, the alternative pre-fixes for the Gaelic word meaning 'son' befuddle even the most pedantic of us from time to time -patricularly when we get excited!

You are quite right: the company/family name is spelt 'McAlpine'; 'Mac' being the Irish usage...

Don't know about the derivation of O'Shea's nickname, but the verse has all the hallmarks of Behan's penmanship! O'Shea however (O'Se as Geailge) is definitely a Cork/Kerry surname, which might be a pointer there...

Many 20C. Irish migrant labourers, by the way, like the old Railway navvies before them used nicknames and aliases to hide their true identities - for all the obvious reasons. Something for another day perhaps...


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: hobo
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 11:41 AM

Hello Jim

         Glad you liked the book...

Hadn't heard the term 'hot bed' before, and while many men on shift work took turns with the bed - and no doubt kept it warm, I doubt that the landladies had the brass neck to just rent the mattress - but you never know! Donal MacAuligh has a lovely story about being put into a bed with a Corkman when he was stuck one night, & the two of them saying the rosary together; innocent days...

Re. my new project, any similar titbits most welcome...

Best

Ultan


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,Paddywack
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 04:53 PM

Have just spotted this tread and it brought back some memories. I came to Hammersmith in the 60's and can well remember going to Wimpeys office in The Grove where you would get a travel voucher to what ever site you fancied in the country. In those days you stayed in makeshift camps on site.
I remember working for an English subbie who was totally amased that "the Paddy Labourers" could spend £49 from Friday night till Sunday night and £1 would do for the rest of the week.

A Murphy ganger who was once asked why only £3 sub for the breakfast replied " An empty sack cant stand and a full sack cant bend"


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: hobo
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM

Hi Paddywhack

             I'm looking for stories like your's above; this is where I'm coming from...
            DID YOU EVER WORK IN BRITISH CONSTRUCTION?

In 2001 I wrote a history of the Irish in British construction, The Men who built Britain, and now I want to publish the stories of those who were there – in their own words.

In Britain almost half a million Irishmen worked in construction. On hydro dams, power stations, oil terminals and motorways. Many lived in camps, often in remote locations, working long hours for Wimpey, Tarmac, or MacAlpine, following the Big Money and sending what they hadn't 'subbed' back home to families in Ireland.

In London, Birmingham, Manchester and elsewhere other Irishmen were working, often on 'The Lump', for Irish contractors renewing and expanding the utilities - telephones, water, gas and electricity.

The pub was their labour exchange. Although working in the public eye theirs was a hidden world: of gangers, agents, publicans and landladies whose whims and vagaries set out their everyday existence. They moved between the pubs, the digs, the dancehalls, 'caffs' and roadside 'Stands' where 'Skins' were hired each day by gangermen who judged them by their boots.

Those who were there remember 'Tunnel Tigers', 'Heavy Diggers', and 'McAlpine's Fusiliers'; 'Hen Houses', 'Cock Lodgers', and 'Landladies' Breakfasts'; 'Pincher Kiddies', 'Long Distance Men', and 'Shackling Up'; 'Dead Men', 'Walking Pelters', and 'Murphy's Volunteers'; 'The Shamrock', 'The Galtymore', 'The Buffalo' and 'The Crown'; exile and isolation and loneliness and despair...

In the 'Eighties exodus there were new twists on the old story, which have yet to be chronicled. If you were there, and have a tale to tell, please contact Ultan Cowley at
The Potter's Yard
Rathangan
Duncormick
Co. Wexford
Email: ultan.cowley@gmail.com


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Gulliver
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 10:23 PM

This is an interesting thread about a still-popular (at least in Dublin) song. However, the contribution by Teribus (re 'Bere O'Shea) is nonsense.

Don


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Teribus
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 03:31 AM

Thanks for clearing that up Don


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: mayomick
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 08:07 AM

It was neither the Bear nor the Bere O'Shea . It was the Pear . He had a head shaped like a pear .
My dad who died last year aged 94 was related to the MacNicholas clan ,he knew all the people mentioned in the song . He showed me once how the pincher knot was tied . I asked him how the name came about .He thought it derived from the word "pensioner " , so it would be a way of saying an old timer . He wasn't quite sure on that though .
Pincher Mac used to sit on a high stool in the saloon of the Crown in Cricklewood holding court. One day my dad was in Camden Town and met a cousin of his -and also a cousin of MacNicholas - who had a terrible reputation for fighting. My father asked him why he was carrying an axe and was told that he was on his way to the Crown to sort MacNicholas out .My father refused to go with him . On the way in the door Picher Mac's brother put a glass into his face.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: hobo
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 05:30 PM

Hello Mayomick

             Sounds like the times that were in it, allright...

Don't suppose you live in the vicinity of London, by any chance? I'd dearly love to see how the pincher knot was tied - never thought to ask anyone I met who would have known, and now its probably too late.

I'm based in Ireland but I'll be over in the smoke in October - check out Hammersmith Irish Centre's autumn programme.

Ultan Cowley


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: olddude
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 07:47 PM

silly question but I don't know the answer, is this the same as a tinker? I visited Ireland several time and heard the term used for traveling people ... is this the same?

Dan


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 07:59 PM

Dan

No!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 03:19 PM

Ultan,
It was quite often difficult to sort out the truth from the humour with many of the people we met over the years, mainly in London.
My father told of when he was working for a firm called McAdams in Stevenage, the toilets were a long trench with a plank resting on two upturned oildrums, inside a corrugated hut. The trench was regularly treated with disinfectant until eventually it was filled in and re-sited on another part of the site.
One day (he claims) he walked into the hut to find one of his workmates wading in the bottom of the trench with his arm buried deep in the morass. He asked your man what he was doing and was told that the man's jacked had fallen off the plank and had sunk, and that he was trying to find it.
My dad said, "surely you can't wear the jacket after its been down there".
"No" replied your man, "but my sandwiches are in the pocket".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 03:27 PM

PS,
Ultan,
I'm sure you are aware, but just in case.....
I know there are unused recordings made at the time of the making of the Radio Ballad, 'Song of a Road'.
These are housed in the Charles Parker archive in Birmingham Central library and are accessible to the public.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: hobo
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 04:32 PM

Hi Jim

      No - didn't know about those recordings. The Radio Ballads were ground-breaking in their day and could do with a fresh airing...If anyone today gives a damn.

But your post confirms my suspicion that you must be the 'Jim Carroll' whose name I found jotted down in the notes I consulted to track down the Martin Henry info. recently for this forum...

Maybe you'd be so kind as to contact me privately to discuss thesde matters - ultan.cowley@gmail.com

Many thanks

Ultan


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Barry Finn
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 01:31 AM

Jim, very funny story about the trench & the sandwich, are you sure there's not a song in there?

Thanks for the lovely laugh
Barry


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 02:28 AM

"are you sure there's not a song in there?"
Barry,
Not to everybody's taste - if you get my drift.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Zen
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 02:10 PM

Excellent thread and a refreshing change from some of the other dross that abounds. I'm following closely as two of my uncles (both sadly now passed away) from around the West Sligo/East Mayo border were both "Tunnel Tigers" as referred to ealier in the thread. Unfortunately I can't recall their stories well enough to contribute.

Zen


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,Paddwack
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 08:39 AM

This is bringing back some memories. When we on the road one of the most important pieces of gear was a large saucepan into which went meatand veg which would last for a week This was called a shackle pot does anybody know where this comes from and Im positive it has nothing to do with sheckles.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 11:43 AM

Sadly I can't remember how the pincher knot was tied Ultan. My father read your book and enjoyed it very much ,it's a pity you never met up with him - he must have been one of the last of the old timers.
He told me that the idea behind the spikes was that they would be within a day's tramp of each other. It didn't always work out that way of course so the shackle pot would have been indispensable . Dad always called stew 'the shackles', the main ingredients was bones if I remember rightly.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: hobo
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 01:01 PM

'Shackling up' was the term used amongst Irish building workers, apparently well in to the 1970's, for communal cooking - whether on site or in the bed-sits where the only available stove/cooker was on the landing outside the rooms.

Again, to my shame, I never thought to ask for the derivation - probably because I work by establishing a rapport and don't like to break the flow by asking awkward or pedantic peripheral questions. There is of course a happy medium...

I suspect that the term may originate with the construction of a system for suspending a cooking pot over an open (camp) fire...Shows how far removed we have all become, in a relatively short space of time, from certain ways of living whose elements stretch unbroken back to the Middle Ages. How un-free today's semingly well-padded youth are even compared with those of us who were young in the nineteen sixties!

Ultan


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 01:24 PM

A quick look through some slang dictionaries doesn't come up with anything promising on "shackle pot" or "shackling up". Off the top of my head, all that comes to mind is using a length of chain with a shackle to suspend a pot over an open fire.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 02:04 PM

From Partridge's 'Dictionary of the Underworld'.
Shackling-up
A great cooking of food in a pot ('Sneak Thief on the Road' 1934)
Shackle up
To cook one's stew, esp in a 'jungle' ca. 1920
Shackle
"Soup (British and American tramps' slang) WH Davies and George Orwell
Short for shackle-(or knuckle) - bones. Shackles has, in Britain, been long a proletarian word for remnants and scrapings of meat in a butchers shop".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 02:31 PM

All of the Radio Ballads have been re-issued by, and are available on CD, from

Topic Records Ltd,
50 Stroud Green Road,
London,
N4 3ES.

I heard about the re-issue earlier this week and got two of them for around £9.00 each.

Enjoy


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,ythanside
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 02:34 PM

Sorry, that was my post re the Radio Ballads.

Ythanside


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 03:00 PM

Jim (Carroll)

Ha! I had started one step further back in time! I see it now in the "Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang" with a reference to 1935-6. It suggests a connection to "shackles" and in turn to "shackle-bone" meaning "knuckle-bone" - as does the Partridge reference you cite.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 03:10 PM

In fact, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary makes the same connections, so to speak. Ultimately, I suspect the nautical root is the key link.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 03:12 PM

Which is Low German, seemingly.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 03:30 PM

Hi Martin,
Orwell suggests in 'Down and Out In Paris And London' that the term was "probably coined in some prison where soup was so cathartic as to keep prisoners 'shackled' to - or near - a latrine".
Partridge dismisses it as "a nice theory...." and gives his own definition of the word.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 08:00 AM

I would have thought that the verb "to shackle " was taken from the practice of tying a prisoner up by the shackles . Thereafter manacles came to be known as shackles .


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,Paddywack
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 03:17 PM

I remember the communal cooker very well and am gratefull for the various definitions of shackle and shackling up.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 01 Aug 08 - 08:44 AM

Does anyone have any ideas on the origin of the word "spikes" ? My father thought it might have been an Irish word .


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 01 Aug 08 - 09:41 AM

Sorry, mayomick - the meaning isn't clear to me from the earlier mention. Tell us more, please?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 01 Aug 08 - 09:57 AM

BTW. : I notice "shackle pot" or "shackle-pot" being used in the sense of a stewpot in some tinker/traveller related postings on the net - as well as in one or two documents I can make no sense of! Can anyone check dictionaries of tinker cant and related languages?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: ard mhacha
Date: 02 Aug 08 - 07:23 AM

During my working years in England from the late 1950s to the late 1960s I met a few of those old timers some who had been away from Ireland 50 or more years.
The real `pinchers` were mostly from the west of Ireland, they were clannish and moved in packs from job to job.
The Labour Weekly was their paper for finding the best paying jobs, hard work was secondary as long as the wages were good that is all that mattered.
The `Culchies` mostly `Pinchers` and referred to as ¬Long distant boys`[derived from Kiltimagh in County Mayo] were looked down upon by lots of other Irish men the Dublin men picked many a row with them.
The `Spike` was, from memory a lodging house in London, Donall MacAmhlaigh`s book An Irish Navvy republished in 2003 by Collins is a must read for anyone interested in this subject, also Patrick McGill`s Children of the dead end.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: GUEST,Paddywack
Date: 02 Aug 08 - 07:58 AM

Spikes were hostels of sorts where you went and got 3 days (not sure of exact no) free board and lodgings in order to clean up and get sorted out. These were used mostly by people who had been skippering for a long time and were in need of a clean up. There was strictly no drinking on these premises. There was a really good one in Wales cant remember where exactly,brains a bit pickled at my age.

I would guess that these were forerunners of The Salvation Army Hostels.


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: mayomick
Date: 02 Aug 08 - 08:40 AM

The Spikes seem to have been set up around the begining of the 20th century by some official body - the Ministry of Works perhaps?- to facilitate navvies who would be on the tramp looking for work .The original idea behind them was that they would be within a day's tramp of each other . This is according to my father who came from very near Kiltimagh and started work in England in 1929 . He thought that the word may have been Irish - he never met anyone other than Irish people in them he said.

They may have cleaned up their act before Paddywhack arrived ,but in the thirties Spikes were apparantly places to avoid - unlike the Rowton Houses which served a similar function but were considered cleaner.

I think Paddywhack was right in his use of the word "shackle" in the singular when referring to the stew . The word "spikes" on the other hand was always -at least in my recollection - used with an 's' on the end as if it was plural. Martin , how do you think the word would be spelt if it was Irish ?


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 04 Aug 08 - 02:12 PM

mayomack

That's what bothers me, really! That "aye" (diphthong "ei") sound doesn't really occur in Irish, in my experience (some of our local pedants will no doubt come up with examples, nonetheless!).

My immediate reaction when I heard the word was an image of the sort of spike on which shopkeepers used to stick receipts. Given the time-frame suggested above, this might not be a crazy idea - some sort of "chit" system? I'll see if I can find out anything more.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 04 Aug 08 - 03:16 PM

Several online dictionaries give "spike" as (U.K.) slang for a hostel for the homeless. Nothing on origin as yet - nor much real sense of date.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Define: Pincher laddies
From: MartinRyan
Date: 04 Aug 08 - 03:20 PM

Partridge's Dictionary of Historical Slang gives it as mid 19 Century tramps cant. To go "on the spike" is to sleep in the workhouse.

Regards


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