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Folklore: 'Like Blackpool through a stick of rock'

Brian Peters 18 May 14 - 01:41 PM
Smedley 18 May 14 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 18 May 14 - 03:56 PM
Brian Peters 22 May 14 - 08:01 AM
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Subject: Folklore: 'Like Blackpool through a stick of rock'
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 May 14 - 01:41 PM

I've just been listening to Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker's 'Ballad of John Axon'. Still riveting and very moving after 57 years - and if MacColl had no other achievements to his name, this alone would mark him for greatness.

The ballad series' use of direct speech from working people has been much discussed - the first time this happened on the BBC, if I'm not mistaken. I'm always struck by the quote from the railwayman who says: "Railways go through the back of your spine like Blackpool through rock." I've heard the same metaphor used elsewhere, and am curious to know whether it was the broadcast of 'John Axon' that gave the saying wider currency, or whether it was common already. Anyone got any idea?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Like Blackpool through a stick of rock'
From: Smedley
Date: 18 May 14 - 02:13 PM

There a reference in Graham Greene's novel 'Brighton Rock' that's pretty similar to that phrase (not the railway part). Novel first published in the late 30s, I think.   And of course the George Formby song about Blackpool rock is from the same era.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Like Blackpool through a stick of rock'
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 18 May 14 - 03:56 PM

No. The metaphor of something being like the lettering through a stick of rock goes back way before Axon; probably as far back as seaside resorts, or rock itself.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Like Blackpool through a stick of rock'
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 May 14 - 08:01 AM

Thanks, chaps. Yes, the Formby song might well have made a permanent association in the public mind between 'rock' and Blackpool - as opposed to say Scarborough or Bournemouth.


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