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Champion at Keeping them Rolling

DigiTrad:
BALLAD OF ACCOUNTING
BRITAIN'S MOTORWAYS
DIRTY OLD TOWN
FAREWELL TO TARWATHIE (2)
GIRLS OF THE SHAMROCK SHORE
GO DOWN, YOU MURDERERS
GOODBY TO THE THIRTY FOOT TRAILER
JOY OF LIVING
MANCHESTER RAMBLER
MY OLD MAN
NOBODY KNEW SHE WAS THERE
NORTH SEA HOLES
SCHOOLDAYS END
SECOND FRONT SONG
SHELLBACK SONG
SHOALS OF HERRING
SONG OF THE IRON ROAD
THE BALLAD OF TIM EVANS
THE FIRST TIME
THE TERROR TIME
THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
THE WEEK YOUR MAN'S AWA' or FISHERMAN'S WIFE


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Lyr Req: Manchester Rambler (Ewan MacColl) (4)
Lyr Add: Legal Illegal (Seeger/MacColl) (4)


CeltArctic 24 Jan 12 - 07:18 PM
GUEST,henryp 24 Jan 12 - 07:23 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Jan 12 - 09:07 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Jan 12 - 09:09 PM
jacko@nz 24 Jan 12 - 09:41 PM
GUEST,henryp 25 Jan 12 - 01:38 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Jan 12 - 03:16 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jan 12 - 04:14 AM
Steve Parkes 25 Jan 12 - 12:22 PM
Will Fly 25 Jan 12 - 12:27 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Jan 12 - 02:48 PM
Steve Parkes 25 Jan 12 - 03:17 PM
The Sandman 25 Jan 12 - 06:43 PM
CeltArctic 25 Jan 12 - 08:34 PM
mayomick 26 Jan 12 - 03:13 PM
CeltArctic 27 Jan 12 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,henryp 21 Apr 12 - 08:24 AM
mayomick 21 Apr 12 - 01:51 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 12 - 03:32 PM
KHNic 21 Apr 12 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,Jungle Cafe 03 Jun 16 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,henryp 17 Apr 18 - 06:56 AM
GUEST,John Cobley 24 Oct 21 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,henryp 25 Oct 21 - 03:33 AM
Howard Jones 25 Oct 21 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,henryp 25 Oct 21 - 11:26 AM
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Subject: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: CeltArctic
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 07:18 PM

Hi all, I have reviewed some old postings on Mudcat, but have not seen the answer to one question I have concerning the lyrics to this Ewan MacColl song. When he says "I'm well known to Blondy and Mary", what is he referring to exactly?

Thanks,
Moira


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 07:23 PM

Two girls in the jungle camp, I imagine!

Perhaps they served the tea.


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 09:07 PM

I sing this. I've always assumed (though would be interested to know more) they were just random names of women...to represent archetypes, no one in particular. In other words, he narrator gets around a little bit with the truck sto ladies and or prostitutes. I hear it as an inter-textual reference to "The Limerick Rake."


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 09:09 PM

to add: They are "palones" (or however you would spell it!).


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: jacko@nz
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 09:41 PM

The Jungle was a truckies cafe at the top of Shap Fell. Blondie and Mary just have to have been waitresses there.

Jack


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 01:38 AM

The Truck Driver's Song by Ewan MacColl from the Topic Songbook

My hotel is the jungle, a caf's me abode
And I'm well known to Blondie and Mary.

The Jungle was indeed a transport cafe (or caf) on the A6 south of Shap summit in the county of Westmorland in the north of England. The Jungle Cafe building still stands, apparently, serving as the offices of Kendal Caravans.

The A6 over Shap Fell was the main north-south road until the opening of the M6 motorway in 1970. There is now a memorial at Shap summit - mounted on a pillar of Shap granite - to the drivers and the workers who supported them.

"This memorial pays tribute to the drivers and crews of vehicles that made possible the social and commercial links between north and south on this old and difficult route over Shap Fell before the opening of the M6 Motorway.

Remembered too are those who built and maintained the road and the generations of local people who gave freely of food and shelter to stranded travellers in bad weather."


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 03:16 AM

I always see Mary as a comfortable, motherly soul, and Blondie as a flirtatious, twinkle-eyed, bottom-wiggling little piece - both providing a nice bit of sociable relief during a break in an arduous and tedious drive. Anyone agree? Anyone else have this [semi-conscious] habit of visualising just-mentioned-in-passing characters and attributing personalities?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 04:14 AM

I have an idea that'Champion' was written for a radio programme entitled 'Pit Stop', along with another song '21 Years'.
Can't find the date or reference to it.
"Polone/palone - A girl or woman - 'low theatrical' dayed back to 1850 and is often used in combination as adjective 'female' as in STRILL polone, a female pianist. Ex Romany: cognate with BLOWEN."
A Dictionary of Historical Slang
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 12:22 PM

A BBC Radio Ballad, Song of a Road, Jim.

I thought I'd read somewhere that polone was a polari word (actor's/gay slang) from the Italian pollo for chick(en), but I can't imagine many lorry drivers using polari!


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 12:27 PM

I think several types of people used the word 'polone' - the young gangster Pinky uses it in Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock". I also thought it came from the Polari slang.

Jules and Sandy starred in "The Polone Ranger"...


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 02:48 PM

Thanks Steve - not the same programme.
The one the songs were written for was entitled Lorry (not Pit) Stop and was made around 1949.
I have searched everywhere for a reference, but can find none other than the sleeve note on MacColl's Shuttle and Cage album which reads - "written by Ewan MacColl in 1949 for a radio programme dealing with lorry drivers".
There is no other such programme I know of and I remember Ewan referring to it when we interviewed him.
Polone
Apart from the Dictionary of Historical slang ref, Hotten's Slang dictionary gives this - don't know if there is ay connection.
"Poll, a female of unsteady character; " POLLED up," means living with a woman in a state of unmarried impropriety. Also, if a costermonger sees one of his friends walking with a strange woman, he will say to him on the earliest opportunity, " I saw yer when yer was POLLED up.""
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 03:17 PM

Yes, I thought of Pinky; he misunderstands a reference to Polonius (Hamlet) ... but I dare say most of us would, in his situation.

Jim: I hang my head in shame! Insufficient research on 'Champion'. Poll, familiar for Margaret (as is Moll), makes a lot of sense. The putative introduction of polone from Italian could have been influenced by it ... or I might be talking balderdash. (There's plenty of precedents.)


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 06:43 PM

a polony is a sausage.Ihave a copy of the book shuttle and cage when i find it i will see what the notes say


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: CeltArctic
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 08:34 PM

OK, I guess I will have to assume Blondie and Mary were waitresses - that makes the most sense given the context of the verse. I found several references to Palones as referring to fancy women.

Moira


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: mayomick
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 03:13 PM

Just to add that "champion" doesn't mean "the best" - it just means very good in the north of England . Ooooooo that's champion !


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: CeltArctic
Date: 27 Jan 12 - 04:22 PM

Thanks, Mayomick - I just learned something new.


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 08:24 AM

I am an old-timer, I travel the road
I sit in me wagon and lumber me load
Me hotel is the Jungle, a caf's me abode
And I'm well known to Blondie and Mary

Well known to Blondie and Mary...the first verse is a reference to the first verse of the Limerick Rake, just as Gibb Sahib said;

Limerick Rake

I am a young fellow that's easy and bold,
In Castletown Conners I'm very well known;
In Newcastle West I spent many a note
With Kitty and Molly and Mary.


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: mayomick
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 01:51 PM

Quite a few of Macoll's songs were about old-timers giving advice, (talk about Polonius!)or else telling younger generations about how things were in the old days . Travelling People, My Old Man , Shoals of Herring and Forty Foot Trailer come to mind.
Some relations of mine worked building the M6 ; only one is still around unfortunately   It's good to hear from Henry that they were remembered on the monument .


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 03:32 PM

Don't know how accessible it is, but Ewan and Peggy's sound collection was donated to Ruskin College and it should include some of the material that was recorded for the Radio Ballads but wasn't used - magic.
Many of Ewan's best songs (IMO) were created using actuality such as this - Shoals of Herring from Sam Larner and Ronnie Balls, Freeborn Man from The Stewarts, Minty Smith and Gordon Boswell, Song of a Road compositions like Come Me Little Son and Just a Note from Jack Hamilton of Mayo, Peter Keenan's Song from a Glasgow Boxer, The Big Hewer from Jack Elliot and South Wales miners....
A particular favourite of mine is Shellback, from the recording of a fascinating old Welsh sailor, Ben Bright, who worked under sail, jumped ship in the US in the thirties and joined Joe Hills IWW (the Wobblies).
The song was written for a Philip Donellan film, Before the Mast.
I'm not sure, but when he wrote Champion (for a radio programme on lorry-drivers entitled 'Pit Stop'), I think he and Joan Littlewood carried out similar interviews on Shap.
Thinking about it - these recordings should also be housed at the Charles Parker archive in Birmingham Central Library.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: KHNic
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 04:28 PM

Palone is the Polari term for a woman. In context, palones who handed over the jarry.


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,Jungle Cafe
Date: 03 Jun 16 - 12:00 PM

The Jungle Café's at Shap notoriously also attracted prostitutes from the towns and cities who worked from shacks near the café itself. I think it's unlikely that Blondie and Mary were waitresses, given the Limerick Rake reference


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 17 Apr 18 - 06:56 AM

The song has been in Andy Irvine's repertoire for some time. It is included on the new CD Precious Heroes by Andy and Luke Plumb. Andy has written an extra verse, but admits that he too did not know the meaning of polones.

A Leyland clock stood at the roadside on the A6 between Kendal and Shap - approximately mid-way between Land's End and John O'Groats. It now stands in the car park at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre. Lenore Knowles, a farmer's daughter, said she was paid £2 a year for winding the clock up once a week.


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,John Cobley
Date: 24 Oct 21 - 06:28 PM

Polone/palone ????????.   Here is the elusive meaning:

pillion (noun, pillion passenger) in British English.
-a person who travels astride a motorcycle immediately behind the rider who holds the handle bars.

A pillion pasenger, holding on with one arm to the waist of the rider in front, has one arm free to give a thumbs up sign to the truck driver to acknowledge considerate truck driving practice.


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Oct 21 - 03:33 AM

Below are the sleeve notes from the 10 inch LP "Shuttle and Cage" (10T13) recorded with accompaniment by Peggy Seeger. The pamphlet also contained the words and music for a further ten songs, which are listed after the sleeve notes.

Side One 5. Champion at Keeping 'em Rolling

This song was written by Ewan MacColl in 1949 for a radio programme dealing with lorry drivers. It has since been the British road-haulage men who have added countless new verses, few of which would past the censor, The words were set to the tune of 'The Limerick Rake', a popular 18th century Irish song.

From the Workers' Music Association Topic Songbook

The Truck Driver's Song
Tune: The Limerick Rake
1.
I am an old timer, I travel the road;
I sit on me wagon and lumber me load;
My hotel is the jungle, a caf's me abode
And I'm well known to Blondie and Mary.
My liquor is diesel - oil laced with strong tea,
The old highway code was my first ABC,
And I cut my eyeteeth on an old A. E. C.,
And I'm champion at keeping 'em rolling

2.
I've sat in my cabin aid broiled in the sun,
Been snowed-up on Shap on the Manchester run;
I've crawled through the fog with my twenty-two tons
Of fish that was stinking like blazes.
From London to Glasgow, to the Newcastle Quay,
From Liverpool, Preston and Bristol City
The polones on the road give the thumbs-sign to me
For I'm champion at keeping 'em rolling

3.
You may sing of your soldiers and sailors so bold
But there's many and many a hero untold
Who sits at the wheel in the heat and the cold
Day after day without sleeping.
So watch out for cops and slow down at the bends,
Check all your gauges and watch your big-ends
And zig with your lights when you pass an old friend,
You'll be a champion at keeping 'em rolling.

POLARI Vocabulary and phrases
Palone: Woman

I can understand how MacColl came across Polari. It's more difficult to explain how lorry drivers did.


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Oct 21 - 06:24 AM

Polari is now particularly associated with gay culture, but it was widely used throughout theatrical circles and also among fairgrounds and circuses. It seems very likely that lorry drivers mingled with travelling showmen on the road and picked up some of their slang. Also, a number of Romany words have found their way into wider slang use, including "chav", "mush" and "cushty".

Whilst it is very likely that MacColl had come across Polari in the theatre, the whole point of the Radio Ballads was to use the language and voices of ordinary working people. I'm sure that he used the word because it was part of lorry drivers' vocabulary, otherwise why use a term from a different context, especially one that would not be familiar to many listeners?


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Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Oct 21 - 11:26 AM

From British Circus and Fairground Lingo; Carnival Slang; palone/polone - not listed

From Wikipedia; Polari palone woman (Italian paglione – "straw mattress"; cf. old Cant hay-bag – "woman");
also spelled "polony" in Graham Greene's 1938 novel Brighton Rock
Once again, I can imagine MacColl reading Graham Greene, but not many lorry drivers.

But here's an example of usage in print from 1949, the year Champion at Keeping Them Rolling was written;
charver, n. A sexual embrace: theatrical (orig. Parlyaree): late C.19–20.—2.
Hence, a girl, a woman, esp. as sexual partner: market-traders’: late C.19–20. (M.T.)
Also spelt charva, as in bona palone for a charva, a good-time girl. (John o’ London’s Weekly, 4 Feb. 1949.)
From A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English 8th Ed. / Partridge, Eric; Beale, Paul.


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