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Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'

DigiTrad:
CHICKEN ON A RAFT


Related threads:
Background Info: Chicken on a Raft^^^ (29)
Chicken on a Raft (25)


Grab 21 Jun 00 - 07:20 AM
kendall 21 Jun 00 - 07:28 AM
Bat Goddess 21 Jun 00 - 07:43 AM
AndyG 21 Jun 00 - 08:20 AM
Grab 21 Jun 00 - 08:29 AM
Grab 21 Jun 00 - 08:32 AM
Willie-O 21 Jun 00 - 08:44 AM
Bat Goddess 21 Jun 00 - 10:27 AM
AndyG 21 Jun 00 - 11:01 AM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Jun 00 - 11:19 AM
Wolfgang 21 Jun 00 - 12:04 PM
zander (inactive) 21 Jun 00 - 02:44 PM
zander (inactive) 21 Jun 00 - 02:44 PM
wildlone 21 Jun 00 - 02:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jun 00 - 02:58 PM
MMario 21 Jun 00 - 03:08 PM
kendall 21 Jun 00 - 04:16 PM
Margo 21 Jun 00 - 05:41 PM
Bill D 21 Jun 00 - 06:12 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Jun 00 - 07:32 PM
MarkS 21 Jun 00 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,jack penman 22 Jun 00 - 02:06 AM
Chanteyranger 22 Jun 00 - 05:23 AM
rock chick 07 Aug 01 - 06:13 PM
GUEST,guest 08 Aug 01 - 05:53 PM
Jock Morris 09 Aug 01 - 05:28 PM
Margo 09 Aug 01 - 05:30 PM
Arnie 24 Oct 01 - 10:36 AM
Hawker 24 Oct 01 - 10:38 AM
Wolfgang 24 Oct 01 - 10:43 AM
Arnie 24 Oct 01 - 11:07 AM
NH Dave 24 Oct 01 - 03:42 PM
Keith A of Hertford 24 Oct 01 - 03:58 PM
Nemesis 24 Oct 01 - 07:52 PM
53 24 Oct 01 - 11:14 PM
ddw 24 Oct 01 - 11:42 PM
GUEST,John Gray/Australia 24 Oct 01 - 11:43 PM
petem @ work 24 Oct 01 - 11:52 PM
wysiwyg 25 Oct 01 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Boab 25 Oct 01 - 03:48 AM
wildlone 25 Oct 01 - 03:30 PM
Walking Eagle 25 Oct 01 - 05:51 PM
Dunc 26 Oct 01 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,Pauline 26 Oct 01 - 02:22 PM
Herga Kitty 26 Oct 01 - 05:56 PM
Bernard 04 Nov 01 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Allen 05 Jun 05 - 05:23 AM
Dave Hanson 05 Jun 05 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,Allen 05 Jun 05 - 06:37 AM
Don Firth 05 Jun 05 - 04:45 PM
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Subject: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Grab
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 07:20 AM

There's a shanty called 'Chicken on a Raft' (and no, it's not 'Chicken in a Bucket', b4 anyone comes up with that :-) which we're learning. If there's any shantymen around, could you give me a hand, please?

Does anyone know what the meanings of some of the bits in it are? I've a feeling there's typos in the Digitrad version (line 3 of the chorus is written down as "Dabtoes forward and the dustman aft", which I think should be "last man" instead of "dustman"). But what are "dabtoes"? Recording of the Young Tradition singing it sounds more like "dabtails", but that doesn't make any more sense, unless it's the name of a particular bit of rigging. And what is a "chicken on a raft" in the first place (and why's it such a terrible sight on a Monday morning)?

"Pusser's shower" I understand - the "pusser" being the purser, who's notoriously tight-fisted.

Thanks to anyone who can get any more info on this.

Grab.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: kendall
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 07:28 AM

I always thought chicken on a raft was a poached egg on toast?


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 07:43 AM

Nope, those aren't typos. "Chicken on a Raft" was written by Cyril Tawney, Brit sub-mariner and British Navy seamusic scholar and collector (see his book _Grey Funnel Lines_).

"Dabtoes" and "dustmen" are Navy colloquialisms for various clean-up jobs. (And unfortunately, I'm not really awake yet so I can't give you the exact job titles.) The dabtoes, I think, are swabbing the deck and the dustmen throwing trash off the aft.

Chicken on a raft is poached eggs on toast.
Go to the source. Most of Tawney's songs are full of Brit Navy (the real "Grey Funnel Line") jargon.

Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: AndyG
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 08:20 AM

Chicken on a Raft = Fried Egg on Toast
Jimmy = Jimmy-the-One = 1st lieutenant
Comic Cuts = Orders (possibly QR&AI ?), (originally WWI British Army jargon for Divisional Orders)
Dabtoes = seamen (not specialist ratings)
Dustmen = Engine Room specialist ratings (originally stokers)
middle, forenoon = watches
Whalin' crew = Whaler's Crew / Whaler = Ship's boat
pusser = purser

(Donny-B I'm not sure about)

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Grab
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 08:29 AM

Thanks for the help Bat Goddess, that's cleared that up! Didn't realise it was such a recent song (reference to "pulling on a whaling crew" made me think it was older). Still, I guess if it's written in a 'traditional' style then it'll sound that way regardless.

Spose I'll have to dig out some books about Navy lingo if I'm going to do any more like that. A quick search on Google for Cyril Tawny comes up with a fair selection of books and CDs.

Cheers again.

Grab.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Grab
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 08:32 AM

Many thanks AndyG, too.

Grab.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Willie-O
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 08:44 AM

And a chicken on a raft on a Monday morning is a terrible sight to see because, whether poached or fried, it is _not_ what your hangover wants to see--as you start a new week in your tin can abode.

Another Royal Navy delicacy that might not be fit for sore eyes and weak stomachs is stewed tomatoes on toast--known as a "train wreck".

Info gleaned long ago from Lou Killen, an authority on Tawney.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 10:27 AM

Thanks to Andy G. for the list of definitions. I could have gotten them right if I had been able to consult my sources, namely my husband, Tom Hall.

Heard Lou Killen do a couple Tawney songs last Saturday--having to explain the terminology took almost as long as the song, sometimes.

Tawney is pretty amazing when it comes to writing music "in the tradition" -- take "Five Foot Flirt", his tribute to the music hall style.

Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: AndyG
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 11:01 AM

Bat Goddess,

Perhaps you can help with the quiz at the end of this song then ?

CYRIL SAID IT ALL BEFORE.

My answers (8):
Grey Funnel Line
Sally Free and Easy
The Oggie Man
A Lean and Unwashed (tippy) Tiffie
I'm in the Sidings Now
Five Foot Flirt
Sammy's Bar
Diesel and Shale

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 11:19 AM

The original Comic Cuts was a children's comic, launched by Alfred Harmsworth in 1890 and enormously popular at the time the term entered Service slang.  It ran until 1953.  Cyril wrote Chicken on a Raft in 1958 as a "mock" shanty, largely to use up bits of part-written songs that seemed too good to waste but didn't fit anywhere else!

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Wolfgang
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 12:04 PM

For Andy's quiz: Here is a version of 'Cyril said it all before' with the quiz solutions in CAPS. The only one you didn't have, Andy, is from an additional verse not (yet) in Mudcat. Great job.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 02:44 PM

Chicken on a Raft is a fried egg on fried bread according to Cyril, who wrote it.

Regards, dace


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 02:44 PM

Chicken on a Raft is a fried egg on fried bread according to Cyril, who wrote it.

Regards, dave


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: wildlone
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 02:48 PM

My Uncle was in the Royal during the last war,
He served on board many ships including the Rodney and the Trinidad.
The Oggy or Pasty he used to buy from a seller at the Devonport Dockyard gates after a run ashore came in two sizes the four oared oggy and the six oared oggy
Cyril would have known this man who gave up selling somtime after the war I believe.
Cyril wrote Diesel and Shale as there had never been a shanty for submarine's before.
SHALE is shale oil a lubricant that did not smell very nice.
If "Train Wreck" put you off how about S**t on a Shingle, Minced [or ground] beef on toast


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 02:58 PM

When I first heard Chicken on a Raft I thought it was a reference to naval cannibalism. You know, adrift in a raft, draw straws to see who's for breakfast. I was rather disappointed to learn the real meaning.

A mondegreen I can't get out of my mind is "The Grey Flannel Line."


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: MMario
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 03:08 PM

Isn't "The Gray Flannel Line" a parody about a bunch of lawyers on a cruise?


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: kendall
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 04:16 PM

Chicken on a raft is much less nauseous making than creamed / chipped beef on toast. We seamen of limited vocabulary called it "creamed foreskins" on toast.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Margo
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 05:41 PM

As I understand it, the "Chicken on a Raft" was egg on toast but deep fried long before the breakfast hour so that when the sailor sat down to eat the fat had congealed and it was very unappetizing. Hence the "terrible sight to see".

Also, I think DABTOES was the nickname for the greenhorn sailor who would trip over the metal bolts sticking up out of the deck.Margo


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 06:12 PM

also about the song....a lot of people who sing it these days hold the note on 'aft' ...

"dabtoes forward and the dustmen affffffffft"... for 4 beats.......

but when Tawney was here in Wash DC, USA about 17-18 years ago, he profesed surprise...said he sure didn't write it that way:meant it to be sung with just a normal beat..not that he was upset, just bemused...


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 07:32 PM

The Young Tradition (Peter Bellamy, Royston Wood & Heather Wood) introduced that held note.  Most people who sing Chicken on a Raft learnt it -at some remove- from their recording.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: MarkS
Date: 21 Jun 00 - 07:58 PM

Recall the dabtoes sat forward and the dustmen aft because the various specialties aboard ship tended to sit (as well as bunk and work) together.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: GUEST,jack penman
Date: 22 Jun 00 - 02:06 AM

DonnyB: Donnybristle in Fifeshire I think, not far from Rosyth dockyard


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 22 Jun 00 - 05:23 AM

Wasn't The Grey Flannel Line composed by L.L. Bean?


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: rock chick
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 06:13 PM

Thanks radriand (Richard)

Next time I hear that song it may have more meaning to me. We all get into pissy moods, no need for apologies, but they are accepted anyway. The info you gave me is intresting, I'll look out for some of his songs and you never know, I may... just may become a fan?

rc (Shelagh)

If you received this message more than once ops!! sorry but I seem to be having trouble tonight with the computor


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 05:53 PM

Damn! I always thought "chicken on a raft" was the weevil that crawled out of the stale ship's biscuit when it was floated on water (for that purpose) Much more romantic - but where on earth did I get it from?


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Jock Morris
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 05:28 PM

Another similar concoction was devilled kidneys on toast -> Shit on a raft.

Scott


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Margo
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 05:30 PM

Hmmmm.... sounds like the American S.O.S.; shit on a shingle. Actually chipped beef on toast. Is it that bad? Or is it just the way it looks?


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Subject: Chicken on a raft
From: Arnie
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 10:36 AM

Chicken on a raft is a great Cyril Tawney shanty and I keep meaning to try it at my local FC but some clever sod is bound to ask me what it means. So, any idea why there's a chicken on a raft? (maybe it's the marine equivalent of chicken in basket?) And what's a dabtoe? Any offers gratefully rec'd as ever...


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Subject: RE: Chicken on a raft
From: Hawker
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 10:38 AM

It's mariners speak for Egg on taost - The egg is the chicken and the raft is the toast
Hope it goes down well!
Regards, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Chicken on a raft
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 10:43 AM

see old thread: Meaning of chicken on a raft

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Chicken on a raft
From: Arnie
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 11:07 AM

Thanks Hawker and Wolfgang. I should have known there'd be a previous thread on the subject - there usually is! Anyway, the thread has explained everything I need to know and more, so I now have no excuse but to go for it! The difficult part (as ever) will be educating the audience to join in on their bits - you just can't sing a shanty by yourself!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: NH Dave
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 03:42 PM

SOS, American Military (originally) slang for Creamed Beef on Toast was just a nickname, drawn from the idea of some mystery sauce on a slab of toast.

Properly made, it can be tasty, although like other local delicacies it IS an acquired taste.

Old time military types would go down the chow line getting eggs, home-fries (chunked up bits of previously cooked potatoes that have been refried), toast, grits (in the south), and the beef-in-gravy over the lot.

Sort of binds everything together.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 03:58 PM

A sailor's Comic Cuts is his personal file, record of service, misdemeanors etc.
Just a cuckoo in another man's nest,
Keith


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Nemesis
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 07:52 PM

We have C-o-a-R in our repertoire filched from YT - and I have to say that the change of timing (whatever) on that line dabtoes forward does lend itself naturally to the opportunity for doing some really interesting harmonies.

Cyril is at Horsham Sussex, Folk Club on 18 NOv - apparently about the only date in this area.


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Subject: RE: Chicken on a raft
From: 53
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 11:14 PM

never heard of that expression.


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Subject: RE: Chicken on a raft
From: ddw
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 11:42 PM

53, I gotta hand it to you. You're the only person I've seen in two and a half years on Mudcat who will keep a dead thread alive to trumpet his ignorance.....

david

BTW — maybe nobody told you, but it's not mandatory to post to every thread you open.....


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: GUEST,John Gray/Australia
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 11:43 PM

Yeah, dustmen, or dusties, are stokers. So named because they were covered in coal dust. The nickname sticks to this day even though ships are Diesel or gas turbine powered. I was a stoker in the 60's/70's. We knew tomato au gratin as train smash but my favorite for breakfast was always sauteed kidneys, or, as we called them, piss strainers.
In this, and a couple other posts, the navy slang " a run ashore " has been mentioned but with no clarification. It is not going ashore to run around. It is the term used by sailors for going ashore to partake of alcoholic refreshments. Instead of saying, let's go ashore, go to the pub, and get stuck into booze, it was, let's go for a run ashore. If it was for shopping, usually in a duty free port, it became, let's go for a rabbit run. A rabbit was a present for the folks back home.

JG / FME.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: petem @ work
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 11:52 PM

One thing that always mystified other service types was the concept of a liberty boat having to be alongside before you could go ashore from a stone frigate,

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 12:38 AM

I only had time to skim all this but I didnl;t see what I was looking for--

CONCLUSION: must have been in another thread.

In a thread that included DABTOES in the last year or so, there was a link to a nautical glossary of all these fun terms.....

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 03:48 AM

Just a point of interest---once heard Cyril on radio congratulating Lonnie Donnegan "on the best version of "Sammy's Bar" he'd heard done'. Lonnie did it in 3/4 time.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: wildlone
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 03:30 PM

Guest John Gray/OZ
In the Royal, rabbit/rabbiting is also what the sailors got up to if they "pulled" on a run.

dave


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:51 PM

Just a little thread creep here. Diner slang for eggs here in the states is cackleberries. In days gone by, if a customer wanted two scrambled eggs, the waitress would shout 'Two cackleberries, wreck 'em,' to the short order cook.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Dunc
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 01:41 PM

A complete list of all 'traditional' Royal Naval slang can be found the the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship.
The old port Admiral for Rosyth Naval Base in Scotland had a huge house at Donnibristle (Donny-B)5 miles east of the dockyard. The house (which now falls within the town of Dalgety Bay)was gutted and rebuilt about eight years ago as luxury flats.
There is a connection with Donibristle House and The Bonny Earl of Murray. There were a set of spectacular wrought iron gates with the crest of the Earl of Murray in front of Donny-B House.
I was walking my dog past them one Sunday morning and said 'Hello' to some men carrying out some work on them. A few days later I read in the local newspaper that they had been stolen - by the friendly workmen.
Dunc


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: GUEST,Pauline
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 02:22 PM

Archie Tawney goes to the Opendoor Folk Club each week so I'll ask him this week for you.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 05:56 PM

Here's the Grey Flannel Line (a sewing shantey by Carol Tawney, "discovered" by Vikki Appleton Fielden:

I work my shift, day after day
Sew thermal undies, all in grey
Perhaps pyjamas, now and then
But then it's back to kecks again
It's one more day on the grey flannel line

Don't mind the grain nor an open seam
A button fly never worries me
But the dullest time in a boring day
Is to watch the knickers roll away
It's one more day on the grey flannel line

No silks or satins do I sew
Them pants and vests, they come and go
Even when corsets roll on by
It's still so boring I could cry
Just one more stay on the grey flannel line

Oh Lord, if dreams were only real
I'd get my hands on some satin teal
Make racy shreds to help me score
And work the grey flannel line no more


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 06:36 AM

Archie Tawney's 'official' answer - boiled egg on fried bread. The fried bread goes soggy whilst waiting for the boiled egg... and he should know!

Archie sings quite a few of his brother's songs up at the Open Door in Failsworth, and plenty of other stuff, too. Well worth the visit!


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: GUEST,Allen
Date: 05 Jun 05 - 05:23 AM

This song reminds me of the first meal of the week on my base. Not as bad as chicken on a raft, but what a sight greeted your eyes. What a brilliant writer Tawney was.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 05 Jun 05 - 06:31 AM

Who is Archie Tawney then ?

According to Cyril in the notes to his album ' Sally Free and Easy,

Dabtoes = seamen
dustmen = stokers
chicken on a raft = fried egg on fried bread

OK, eric


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: GUEST,Allen
Date: 05 Jun 05 - 06:37 AM

His brother one assumes.


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Subject: RE: Help: Meaning of 'Chicken on a Raft'
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 05 - 04:45 PM

Probably a matter of regional differences, but the way I've always heard it:

Chicken on a raft = creamed chicken on toast.

S**t on a shingle = creamed chipped beef on toast.

Don Firth


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