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Origins: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?

DigiTrad:
GOODBY TO THE THIRTY FOOT TRAILER


Related threads:
Help: Thirty Foot Trailer - Quines (16)
Chords: thirty foot trailer (fortyfoot trailer?) (21)
Author: Goodbye to the Thirty-Foot Trailer (15)


GUEST,badermody@oceanfree.net 19 Sep 03 - 02:06 PM
Tangledwood 17 Dec 08 - 04:53 AM
Keith A of Hertford 17 Dec 08 - 05:02 AM
MartinRyan 17 Dec 08 - 05:27 AM
Nigel Parsons 17 Dec 08 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 17 Dec 08 - 06:53 AM
John MacKenzie 17 Dec 08 - 07:49 AM
Gedi 17 Dec 08 - 07:51 AM
Fred McCormick 17 Dec 08 - 07:59 AM
Paul Burke 17 Dec 08 - 08:05 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Dec 08 - 08:18 AM
Dave Hanson 17 Dec 08 - 08:56 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Dec 08 - 03:06 PM
Tangledwood 17 Dec 08 - 04:45 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 17 Dec 08 - 04:54 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Dec 08 - 02:45 AM
romany man 18 Dec 08 - 03:14 AM
Dave Hanson 18 Dec 08 - 04:53 AM
Mr Red 18 Dec 08 - 05:12 AM
MartinRyan 18 Dec 08 - 05:13 AM
John MacKenzie 18 Dec 08 - 06:39 AM
Dave Hanson 18 Dec 08 - 08:11 AM
open mike 18 Dec 08 - 02:24 PM
John MacKenzie 18 Dec 08 - 02:41 PM
Tangledwood 18 Dec 08 - 05:15 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Dec 08 - 05:16 PM
GUEST 18 Dec 08 - 05:35 PM
John MacKenzie 18 Dec 08 - 05:37 PM
Tangledwood 18 Dec 08 - 05:56 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Dec 08 - 06:12 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Dec 08 - 06:31 PM
Jim Lad 19 Dec 08 - 04:31 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Dec 08 - 04:35 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 08 - 04:54 AM
romany man 19 Dec 08 - 05:28 AM
romany man 19 Dec 08 - 05:38 AM
Ruth Archer 19 Dec 08 - 05:54 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Dec 08 - 06:55 AM
SRD 19 Dec 08 - 06:57 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 08 - 07:34 AM
Santa 19 Dec 08 - 09:10 AM
romany man 19 Dec 08 - 09:41 AM
Tangledwood 19 Dec 08 - 05:08 PM
peregrina 19 Dec 08 - 05:28 PM
Tangledwood 19 Dec 08 - 11:56 PM
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Subject: ADD:Goodbye to the Thirty Foot Trailer(MacColl)^^^
From: GUEST,badermody@oceanfree.net
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 02:06 PM

GOODBY TO THE THIRTY FOOT TRAILER
(Ewan MacColl)

The old ways are changing you cannot deny
The day of the traveler's over
There's nowhere to gang and there's nowhere to bide
So farewell to the life of the rover

Goodbye to the tent and the old caravan
Tae the tinker, the rover, the traveling man
And goodbye tae the thirty foot trailer

Farewell tae the cant and the traveling tongue
Farewell tae the Romany talking
The buying, the selling, the old fortune telling
The knock on the door and the hawking

You got to move fast to keep up with the times
For these days a man cannot dander
There's a bylaw to say you maun be on your way
And another to say ye can't wander

Farewell to the blossom and besoms of broom
Farewell tae the creels and the baskets
The folk of today would far rather pay
For a thing that is made oot o plastic

The old ways are passing and soon will be gone
And progress is aye a big factor
Its sent to afflict us and when they evict us
They tow us away wi a tractor

Farewell tae the pony, the cob, and the mare
The reins and the harness are idle
You don't need a strap when you're breaking up scrap
So farewell tae the bit and the bridle

Farewell tae the fields where we've sweated and toiled
At pulling and hauling and lifting
They'll soon have machines and the traveling queens
And their menfolk had better be shifting


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Subject: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 04:53 AM

In the song Thirty foot trailer there is a line "They'll soon have machines and the traveling queens"

Can anybody tell me what a traveling queen is in this context please?


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:02 AM

I don't know, but since it continues "and their menfolk" i took it as just a reference to the female travellers.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:27 AM

Complete the line!

They'll soon have machines and the traveling queens and their menfolk had better be shifting

Regards"


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:34 AM

KeithA:
I'm in work so can't get full acces, but a google of "Travelling Queens" gets the line as:
"They'll soon have machines and the travelling queens. And there manfolks can better be shifting."
i.e. not their menfolk. A two separate sentences. So the meaning you ascribe to it could be wrong. Alternately the google-hit I looked at could have a transcription error!

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:53 AM

"Manfolks" isn't a word, so I wouldn't rely on a transcription. Put a comma after machines and it starts to makes sense:

They'll soon have machines, and the traveling queens and their menfolk had better be shifting


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:49 AM

I always sing quines, rather than queens, which is a form of address in the north east of Scotland, where you can go from being a young quine, to an old wifie.
The words used in other verses, like 'pullin' and shawin' and liftin'' are Scots words, and I always picture this as set in the north east, anywhere from Blairgowrie to Buckie.

Shawing is cutting the 'shaws' ot green tops off turnips and potatoes.
In the days of hand harvesting of potatoes, a fork or 'graip' was pushed under the whole plant and the shaw was grasped with one hand, and the the other hand pushed down on the handle of the graip. This lifted the whole lot up to the surface, and a lot of the potatoes would remain attached to the shaws.
Ergo, 'Pulling and shawing and lifting'


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Gedi
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:51 AM

I could be wrong but I seem to remember reading (on a sleeve note or somesuch) that the Travelling Queen was simply a way of referring to the women-folk.

Also I believe Howard J above has the line correct as one sentence, rather than two.

Ged


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:59 AM

Dong!

It all makes sense if you read it as, "They'll soon hae machines, and the travelling Queens and their menfolk had better be shifting."

Wonderful invention the comma.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 08:05 AM

It's all a bit wooden, isn't it- not the clear economy of expression you get in folk music.

(ducks for cover- they get you down...)


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 08:18 AM

Yet it is one of those songs that Travellers took to as one of their own, according to Jeremy Sandford at least. In his 'Songs of the Roadside' he claimed that "MacColl adapted it from a gypsy original" - without any corroborating evidence course.
In a Phillip Donellan film, Gypsy Gordon Boswell, while accepting it was a good song, questioned whether '30 foot' was not too long for a gypsy trailer.
Much of the text of the song came from actuality recorded for 'The Travelling People' - a technique used by MacColl for many of his Radio Ballad songs.
Personally, I agree with Paul - it doesn't sound like a folk song, but on the other hand, it wasn't intended to.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 08:56 AM

From ' The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook ' edited Peggy Seeger,

They'll hae machines and the traivelling quaens,
And their menfolk had better be shiftin.

the glossary gives ' quaens ' as girls or women.

John MacKenzie has the correct pronunciation.

eric


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 03:06 PM

MacColl & Seeger's Travellers Songs of Eng & Sc has 'Queans'in its glossary as 'young women', but I'm sure I've seen 'Quoims' somewhere authoritatively stated. I've been singing it for 40 years and never really understood what that line was all about.
If MacColl adapted it from a traveller original funny it never appeared in the aforementioned book???Hmmm! It's 100% radio ballad.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 04:45 PM

Thank you, I had no idea that there could be so many variations! :)

Eric the Red - Peggy Seeger's book sounds like a good authority, thanks for the reference.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 04:54 PM

MacColl was many things - actor, writer, producer, broadcasting pioneer - and some would say the radio ballads were his finest work. Unfortunately, he seems to have thought he was also the fons et origo of all that is folk... If you have a real good look at the ballads, especially with 20/20 hindsight, the core of the musicians, as I recall, were jazzers, the actuality was brilliant (and almost totally new in technique and production), and many of the MacColl songs rather wooden and contrived.
The verse in question is just a foreboding of redundancy of travelling labour, and 30ft does seem awfully long, even if you include the grai and the shafts.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 02:45 AM

"If MacColl adapted it from a traveller original....."
He didn't Steve - but any stick.....
Some prat also suggested that he stole 'Shoals of Herring' from Sam Larner - must be true; it's in Musical Traditions.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: romany man
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 03:14 AM

its a shame that more people are interested in traveller and romany songs, than being interested in the way travellers and romanies are still treated here in the uk, quite legally. simple example, i bought land, applied for planning permission for a mobile dwelling, it was refused, sold the land to a non romany, who did the same thing, he got permission. this happens time and time again, legal discrimination. no people, the romany life is not all romance and music. its a bloody hard life.
i love reading threads about romany songs and often have to chuckle at the replies, there is a difference between travellers tinkers and romanies, sadly though we all get tarred with the same brush. kushti bok, all.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 04:53 AM

Another good book about travellers from Ewan and Peggy is ' Till Doomsday In The Afternoon ' the folklore and songs of the Stewarts of Blairgowrie.

Incidently Peggy Seegers great work ' The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook ' is dedicated to Ewan and Jeans daughter Kirsty MacColl.

eri


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Mr Red
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:12 AM

MacColl was not averse to passing his own songs off somewhat trad, eg "from the singing of Jimmie Miller " and who was this Jimmie Miller?

And that is in the public domain too.

If his songs are not Folk Songs - tell me how could he collect one from a lumberjack in Canada who swore it was from the singing of his Grandmother. And at the time the song was maybe less than 20 years old. He wrote in a style that was not that distant from Folk Song as we know it and those songs live in that very space now. Good enough for me.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:13 AM

"quean" (note spelling)for which the Shorter Oxford gives, as the primary meaning:

------------------
Orig. a woman, a female. Later, a bold or impudent woman, a hussy; specifically, a prostitute. Archaic, except Scotland. (Origin) Old English.
______________________


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:39 AM

A Scot's performer called June Imrie, is known as The Torry Quine, Torry is near Aberdeen.
She does a very funny song called The Quine that Did the Strip at Inverurie, try and catch it if you can it's very funny.
In all references, both to June and to the song, the word is spelled quine, there appears to be a dichotomy between the academics and the habitual users as to the correct spelling.
Personally I have never seen it spelled any other way, and don't recognise the later usage quoted above.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 08:11 AM

When Ewan MacColl sang ' The Shoals Of Herring ' to Sam Larner, Sam swore he'd known it all his life, nuff said about MacColls song writing ability.

In his autobiography Ewan was disparaging about his songwriting, he said he never considered himself a ' songwriter ' he just made stuff up.

eric


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: open mike
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 02:24 PM

i thought you wanted to know the meaning of a 30 ft trailer...


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 02:41 PM

Living vans some of these must be 30 feet.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:15 PM

"i thought you wanted to know the meaning of a 30 ft trailer... "

No, I know what that means. It's a length of film cut from a movie which became redundant with the introduction of digital recording, hence "goodbye . . . etc"


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:16 PM

Farewell to the fields where we've sweated and toiled
At hedging and ditching and lifting,
They'll soon have machines and their travelling ?
And the menfolk had better be shifting.

I'm not convinced. The rest of the verse is all about machinery taking over all the old jobs. What the hell have the young girls got to do with this?
Perhaps I'm missing something. Maybe Romany Man can help us out?


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:35 PM

'Queen' seems to be a term that was quite often attached to women's names - eg Queen Carolyne Hughes, the traditional singer.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:37 PM

Fareweel tae the fields where we've sweated and toiled.
At pullin' and shawin' and liftin'.
They'll soon hae machines, so the traivellin' quines.
And their menfolk, had better be shiftin'.

The travelling quines, were the young lassies who travelled along with their men, to where there was work available.
Women travelled in days gone by, they went to where the work was. Try listening to Come a' ye Fisher Lassies. The girls who gutted the herring travelled the whole of the east coast following the herring as they migrated along the North sea.
People followed the seasons in those days, just to earn a living


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:56 PM

"Farewell to the fields where we've sweated and toiled
At hedging and ditching and lifting,
They'll soon have machines and their travelling ?
And the menfolk had better be shifting.

I'm not convinced. The rest of the verse is all about machinery taking over all the old jobs. What the hell have the young girls got to do with this? "


Steve, thank you, that's what wasn't clear to me and why I raised the question. I was wondering if a lorry, perhaps with flamboyant accessories, was referred to as a queen.

It's probably significant that in the lyrics you quote, and the ones I have, the word after machine is "and", whereas the version quoted by John, which is probably closer to original, has the word "so". An example of the folk process clouding the original intent?


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM

Absolutely, Tanglewood.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:12 PM

John,
I've long been familiar with 'The Fisher Lassies'.(fnar fnar) Singing the Fishing is one of my fave albums.
Where is your version of 'Thirty-foot Trailer' published please?
To my shame I have nearly all of MacColl's published works, but the only version I have of it is a 3 verse thing in an Irish song book!!


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:31 PM

I have to be careful with RM about to correct me but I'm pretty sure that it was relatively commonplace to refer to the romany matriarchs as "Queens". I'm sure I've heard old Grannie Cole (not unknown amongs Kent travellers) referred to as "Queenie".

Of course I may just be pissed and hallucinating.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:31 AM

"They'll soon have machines and the traveling queens and their menfolk had better be shifting"
Somebody up there suggested adding a coma in there to get the proper meaning out of the line.
Bang on!
Or add a full stop and begin a new sentence "And the travelling queens...".
I know. You're not supposed to start a sentence with "And" or "Or" as I just did.

But we're not in school no more.
Cheers!
Jim


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:35 AM

I also have half a feeling that the "30 foot trailers" were the showman's vans drawn behing large lorries.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:54 AM

"its a shame that more people are interested in traveller and romany songs, than being interested in the way travellers and romanies are still treated"
I agree - especially in the light of what's happening in Ireland, which is now verging on ethnic cleansing.
It is worth remembering that it was MacColl's 'Travelling People' radio ballad which put Travellers as human beings on the map for many of us.
"there is a difference between travellers tinkers and romanies"
Also true, but accentuating the differences rather than stressing the similarities has done a great deal of damage to the Travellers' cause.
Scapegoating 'Tinks' 'mumphers' and 'diddies' and describing them as "not real gypsies" has given rise to a great deal of racism among Travellers and has served to weaken rather than strengthen their position in modern society.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: romany man
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:28 AM

well in kent yes the female head of familiy is often called queenie as a term of endearmment and respect, as is the term uncle, for good friends or people you have respect for, as many of those who know me often hear mw refer to uncle amos, or uncle john, although yes they are relatives they also demand respect from me. travelling queens is quite a confusing area, without being in mc colls head i cannot say definately what the geezer means, however, oftimes the very flash trailers, were of up to thirty feet in length, covered in chrome or stainless steel morcambe strips, false headlight, cut glass, formica lining and furnished in the most expensice coverings possible, made by westmorland or roma, cobdale, avro, carlight, and so many others, see roma caravans in your google box, these trailers were a result of ever increasing wealth among certain persons in the romany world through various means, good dealing hard work and of course it cant be hid, less legal means, these trailer were heavy and had to be pulled by trucks not hosses cars would give up after a very few miles, so these flash expensive trailers were also called queens, maybe thats the meaning, worries that work was being lost to machines, the stopping places were fast being lost, as today even travelling to different places can be frought with difficulty, ifn yous deemed a gypsy on the move, regulars stops by mr plod, searches, the as in a case only last sunday threat of illegal stopping in a layby, whilst a tyre was being changed, crazy but true, oh life aint easy or romantic, those of us that remember the travellin days often look back and wish people could tern the clock back now we is caged and pushed an pulled told to conform , well nah it aint gonna happen. anyways hope that through another light on the term.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: romany man
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:38 AM

or go to ebay , type in roma caravan into search and you will see a westmorland star, you wont belive your eyes,


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:54 AM

In the film of Peter Kennedy interviewing Phoebe Smith, the interior of her house looks very similar to that caravan. Thank you, Romany man.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:55 AM

RM - I didn't know that the flash trailers were called Queens - that's a VERY likely and helpful explanation!


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: SRD
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:57 AM

Only my tuppen'orth but it seems that MacColl was using terms he'd picked up from agricultural labouring gypsies and in my opinion he was a fine songsmith. Machines and quines (when pronounced queens) rhymes nicely and the line scans well so I think the females being placed before the males was purely for that technical requirement. As far as the meaning is concerned; I think he was simply re-iterating the fact that machines were driving the labourers (both male and female) from the fields.

I once amazed a very drunken gypsy at a party by singing (well, my version of singing) the whole of it. He was convinced it was an ancient Romany song known only to Romanies.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 07:34 AM

From the horses mouth:
In The Essential Ewan MacColl Song Book Peggy gives the word as 'Quaenes' with the note "girls or women" and in 'Travellers Songs From England and Scotland' the glossary gives 'quaen' as "a young woman, (Northeast Scots dialect).
As far as MacColl as an artist was concerned, he was arguably the best and most prolific songwriter in the whole of the revival; as Hamish Henderson said "Anybody who could write a song as good as The Joy of Living could be forgiven anything".
Any quirks and idiosyncrasies he might have had were more than made up for by the fact that while other folk 'superstars' were getting on with their careers (and only taking time off to snide at MacColl), he spent an evening a week for ten years helping younger and lesser experienced singers to develop. His and Peggy's generosity with their time, advice and material left all the shit-spreading, snide farts standing - that was my experience anyway.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Santa
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 09:10 AM

One possible distraction, but the long trailer used by the RAF to carry aircraft parts from place to place were known as a "Queen Mary". I'd assumed it was a reference to its size and the great liner, but maybe there was a little more to it?


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: romany man
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 09:41 AM

trailers like the westmorland star, were amazing feats of engineering
every inch was decorated in some way, many built by aircraft companies such as vickers, noi an inch wasted, many were a statement of wealth that of course still goes on. if you have not lokked yet go look.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:08 PM

Romany Man, very interesting post at 5.28, thank you. I'm happy to accept that MacColl intended the reference to be to the womenfolk but at least the conjecture about the vehicles wasn't too far off the mark either.

"its a shame that more people are interested in traveller and romany songs, than being interested in the way travellers and romanies are still treated"

I wasn't ignoring that sentence, but living in Australia, well way from these events, I don't have anything useful to add to the discussion other than somewhat remote sympathy.

SRD - "He was convinced it was an ancient Romany song known only to Romanies. "

The only performance I've heard is by Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, neither of whom are Romanies as far as I know :) .
(they'll will be at Woodford this year - woohoo!)


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: peregrina
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:28 PM

thanks Romany man, I had a look at the westmorland star on ebay and felt I'd visited another world. wow.


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Subject: RE: Thirty foot trailer - meaning?
From: Tangledwood
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 11:56 PM

There are some beauties aren't there! Caravan site


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