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Lyr Req: The Dead Horse

DigiTrad:
POOR OLD HORSE
THE DEAD HORSE


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GUEST,Grayd 04 Apr 02 - 04:38 PM
Sorcha 04 Apr 02 - 04:49 PM
Charley Noble 04 Apr 02 - 04:57 PM
Sorcha 04 Apr 02 - 05:32 PM
treaties1 04 Apr 02 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,Grayd 04 Apr 02 - 07:59 PM
Sorcha 04 Apr 02 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Grayd 04 Apr 02 - 08:26 PM
GUEST,The Phoenix 04 Apr 02 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,With long hair smoking funny tobbacco 04 Apr 02 - 09:26 PM
Sorcha 04 Apr 02 - 11:42 PM
IanC 05 Apr 02 - 08:24 AM
Charley Noble 05 Apr 02 - 08:41 AM
MartinRyan 05 Apr 02 - 08:51 AM
Bob Bolton 05 Apr 02 - 08:52 AM
Dead Horse 05 Apr 02 - 01:51 PM
The Shambles 05 Apr 02 - 02:06 PM
Naemanson 05 Apr 02 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,CraigS 05 Apr 02 - 06:17 PM
GUEST,Grayd 05 Apr 02 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,Grayd 05 Apr 02 - 06:55 PM
one-roger 05 Apr 02 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,Grayd to one-roger 05 Apr 02 - 07:24 PM
The Shambles 06 Apr 02 - 02:53 AM
Ship'scat 06 Apr 02 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,Grayd 06 Apr 02 - 06:51 PM
GUEST,Grayd 06 Apr 02 - 06:53 PM
Dead Horse 07 Apr 02 - 05:06 AM
Charley Noble 07 Apr 02 - 10:20 AM
Dead Horse 07 Apr 02 - 11:09 AM
Charley Noble 07 Apr 02 - 01:56 PM
MartinRyan 07 Apr 02 - 05:35 PM
Ship'scat 08 Apr 02 - 03:31 AM
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Subject: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 04:38 PM

One of the verses of the sea shanty "The Dead Horse" contains the line "He's as dead as a nail in the lamproom door".

Its been driving me mad for years - what are nails doing in lamproom doors and why are they dead?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Sorcha
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 04:49 PM

Damfino. I don't even know what a lamproom is.......


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 04:57 PM

Here's a thought. Fire is always a concern on a ship and dangerous things such as lanterns needed to be stored in a secure place, so that common sailors wouldn't use them carelessly while reading late at night in their hammocks or more likely gambling (before itty bitty reading lights). The door might have been reinforced with nails or merely pinned together with them as a plank door can be (with z-shaped planks on the back). Most nails I've encountered are dead, or at least mortally wounded. Any other thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Sorcha
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 05:32 PM

And I've heard "dead as a door-nail" all my life. Never wondered how door nails are different from other nails, or why they are "dead". Most are of iron, so course they're "dead"............


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: treaties1
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 07:34 PM

Yes, but fingernails aren't


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 07:59 PM

Older ships used oil lamps - port, starboard, running lights, inside etc. This kind of lamp required re-filling, trimming and replacement of wicks, general servicing - hence the lamproom on board.

My original question still stands.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Sorcha
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 08:10 PM

Actually, (disregarding the original question) fingernails are dead. They are dead skin cells. Not iron, of course. Hope you get an answer here!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 08:26 PM

I'm sure someone will nail it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,The Phoenix
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 09:23 PM

Before the brig, men who needed locking up were held in the lamproom.It was the second most secure place apart from weapons and they were not going to lock them up there. It is said that Captain Peter Sally on his last voyage ran short of rations and served up the remains of a dead horse that had been smuggled on board to order. The meat was stacked in the lamproom along with the prisoners. Overcome by the fumes of rotting meat they tried to get out but were ignored, despite their cries for help. Seven months later the remains of animal and men were found ,with the nails of the men embedded in the back of the lamproom door.They stayed there on view at Portsmouth till Frances Grant a collector of oddities, purchased the dead door nails for the sum of two pounds. At auction in 1972 they were sold for nine hundred pounds by a buyer who claimed to already have some of Robin Hoods' un-used arrows, and a spy-glass that belonged to Nelson. Hope that's of some help.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,With long hair smoking funny tobbacco
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 09:26 PM

Wow!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Sorcha
Date: 04 Apr 02 - 11:42 PM

Interesting. Truth or fiction? You decide........


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: IanC
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 08:24 AM

There is something special about a doornail. It's not a nail in the usual sense, but the stud on the outside of old doors (like a church door). In general usage, something is said to be dead if it is of no further use ("are these glasses dead"). Doornails are hammered through the door and clinched on the other side (i.e. hammered over to form a rivet). They are thus very definitely dead in the traditional sense.

The phrase is old. It was used by Shakespeare, and appears in Piers Ploughman.

There is another common explanation of the phrase, but which seems to me to be less convincing. This is that the nail in question was the one securing the doorknocker, which would be dead to the constant assault.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 08:41 AM

Oh, I like The Phoenix's explanation much better!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 08:51 AM

My dictionary of HIstorical Slang says "dead as a door-nail" dates back to at least 1350 and speculates that the origin may be "perhaps the striking plate of a door-knocker".

On the "lamproom" aspect: I've a vague memory of the construction of powder-rooms using either copper or tree-nails to cut risk of sparks...?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 08:52 AM

G'day IanC,

The point about doornails being "clenched" raises a few memories with me ... I remember, in the '70s, making a wooden platform (for photographic work) and mounting it above the roof of my mini-van. My Dad, a woodworker, suggested that appropriate construction was like an outside (eg; shed) door ... and I remember being advised to "clench" the nails.

I also remember it weighing a fair proportion of the weight of a mini ... But it was cetainly strong and solid!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Dead Horse
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 01:51 PM

I've tried looking up deadnails in various dictionaries/encyclopedia etc. all to no avail. But I seem to recall that a deadnail is a particular type of nail, maybe one without a head? And I have also heard "lamproom floor" sung instead of "door", which leads me to speculate wether nails with no heads were used on the floor, so as to reduce the risk of sparks (caused by sailors bare feet skating across the nails!!!)
Dead Horse was often served up as beef aboard ship, provided by unscrupulous suppliers. A barrel of a certain size was also called a "horse cask" and these were used to contain beef, water, etc. aboard ship.
And if you think this ain't not true
And they say so, and they hope so
In the horse cask look, you'll find his shoe
Oh, poor old horse.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 02:06 PM

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-dea1.htm. If you look up dead as a doorbell, you will see a pretty good explanation as to why or when a nail is considered as dead, especially when hammered and clinched into a door. A lamproom door as well as any other.

Using the word 'lamproom' probably fits in the song better than just 'door'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Naemanson
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 04:07 PM

I have seen the same explanation of the clinched nail in a door being "dead". If you consider the age before the screw there was no other way to fasten planks face-to-face without the risk of the fastener pulling out. A door, by definition, moves a lot and all the flexing of the materials in the door could cause the nails holding it together to back out unless they were clinched.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 06:17 PM

As I remember the story, which I got from Stan Hugill thirty years ago in a pub near Paddington station, the song relates to apprentice seamen finishing their indentures. A straw horse was hoisted to the masthead and burned, while the song was sung to accompany the process.

The expression dead as a nail does not stem from the nail as we know it in modern times. A nail three centuries ago was any piece of iron longer than it was wide. The phrase cash on the nail relates to the way that merchants in Bristol did business, across what we would nowadays term bollards, in the open air. All the business was transacted at the dockside; cash on the nail meant that the transaction was paid for at once, on top of the bollard, no delay to go back for funds. Dead as a nail meant that the dead person resembled a billet of iron. On the other hand, nails were hammered into doors to deflect blows from axes,etc. Dead as a doornail is an extension of the concept of dead as a nail; dead as a nail in the lamproom door, which would be armoured as a matter of course, is an extension of both concepts. And now that that's the opposite, that's twice upon a time!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 06:39 PM

Well, I knew about the nails that the Bristol traders used to do their business upon, but why would the lamproom door be armoured? The powder store or the armoury I can understand, but the lamproom?

I also saw Stan Hugill a while ago - he said that most of the explanations that one would hear of obscure seafarers' lyrics would be . . . er . . . rather unreliable (those weren't the exact words he used).

The explanation of the song's origins on "Mudcat"'s own version is the same as one that I heard when the shantymen were singing in Bristol, again several years ago.

But that phrase. Its so distinctive that I'm convinced that there's a definitive explanation.

And sorry Pheonix, but I'm not convinced that yours is the one - would you like to give us some links to follow?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 06:55 PM

And a thousand thanks to "The Shambles" for a wonderful link. Its been bookmarked. Just perfect for those of us with an outlook informed by Spike Milligan (MHRIP).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: one-roger
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 07:07 PM

MartinRyan has the elements of the answer.Nails are considered dead when unable to spark(in the context of a lamproom)Lamprooms are provided any where on board a ship or ashore where flamable or explosive materials were stored. The lamp is kept behind a glass so it can light the storage area, without giving rise to setting light to or exploding the materials stored should it fall or be knocked over. As a further precaution no iron ware or fittings were used wthin or adjacent to the storage area, any sheathing or nails were made of copper, hinges of brass or bronze as any iron could if struck create a spark. Hence as dead as a nail in a lamproom door. If you visit any of the Napoleonic forts constructed for the defense of Portsmouth UK you will find such lamprooms in the powder stores along with explanations of their use. The extension of this facility to ships was natural in the days when they were almost entirely constructed of wood.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd to one-roger
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 07:24 PM

one-roger, I saw a documentary about the Napoleonic forts and recall the extraordinary lengths that they went to to keep naked flame away from the powder.

Can you provide any links to inform how this was achieved on board ship?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 02:53 AM

Talking of the Royal Navy, made me think about the expression 'Copper Bottomed" as meaning a certainty. This comes from when the wooden hulls of vessels were coated with copper to limit encrustation, reduce time in port and allow the ships to move faster.

Not that this info is exactly 'hitting the nail on the head'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Ship'scat
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 07:23 AM

I'd endorse one-roger's electro statically-oriented analysis. In ships where even the beef and bread were (weevily) alive, the charge-less state of lamproom (for illuminating combustible stores) door nails must have set the standard for inertness.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 06:51 PM

I think we have our answer. Sparkless fittings make sense.

I took a look at a Napoleonic fort sight in Plymouth UK for interest's sake. I'll have to go and see the disappearing gun now 'cos they used to have several on Flat Holm Island, just acroos the way, and I'd like to see what they really looked like.

Shame that one-roger hasn't come back with some links. I love this old tyme etymological archeology.

Thanks to all who've replied. You're a friendly and curious bunch. The only reply I got on an another (UK) site which should remain anonymous (BBC Radio 2 - Folk On 2) accused me of being needlessly pedantic. I thought I was just asking a question.

Erm . . . small point of physics but would the sparks from striking an iron nail with something be electro-static?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: GUEST,Grayd
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 06:53 PM

Yes, I know, it should read "across".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Dead Horse
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 05:06 AM

Small point of physics? NOW your being needlessly pedantic !!!
And what is a disappearing gun? Is it a Minute Gun, you know, here one minute, gone the next? Or does it involve a chamouflage net???


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 10:20 AM

"Disappearing guns" were characteristic of various late 19th century coastal batteries and border fortifications. Ordinarily the gun at rest was below the parapet and only elevated on its carriage for firing.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Dead Horse
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 11:09 AM

Disappearing guns, eh. What next, I ask myself....
Marching in straight lines with nice white shiny cross belts with bugles blaring & flags flying not good enough for these namby pamby sogers nowadays?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 01:56 PM

What goes "Jingle, bang, jingle, bang, jingle, bang!"?

Sigh - the Morris Dance team marching through the mine field...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: MartinRyan
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 05:35 PM

Grayd

To answer the question.....no they wouldn't. Tribo, maybe...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Dead Horse
From: Ship'scat
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 03:31 AM

To further answer the question, were they iron? I think not but don't know what material they might have been other than, say, wood (tee nails, tr'n'ls)


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