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Champion at Keeping them Rolling

24 Jan 12 - 07:18 PM (#3295722)
Subject: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: CeltArctic

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


24 Jan 12 - 07:23 PM (#3295723)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp

Two girls in the jungle camp, I imagine!

Perhaps they served the tea.


24 Jan 12 - 09:07 PM (#3295755)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Gibb Sahib

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."


24 Jan 12 - 09:09 PM (#3295756)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Gibb Sahib

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


24 Jan 12 - 09:41 PM (#3295765)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: jacko@nz

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

Jack


25 Jan 12 - 01:38 AM (#3295855)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp

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."


25 Jan 12 - 03:16 AM (#3295879)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: MGM·Lion

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~


25 Jan 12 - 04:14 AM (#3295890)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Jim Carroll

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


25 Jan 12 - 12:22 PM (#3296101)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Steve Parkes

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!


25 Jan 12 - 12:27 PM (#3296104)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Will Fly

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"...


25 Jan 12 - 02:48 PM (#3296165)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Jim Carroll

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


25 Jan 12 - 03:17 PM (#3296182)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Steve Parkes

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.)


25 Jan 12 - 06:43 PM (#3296291)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: The Sandman

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


25 Jan 12 - 08:34 PM (#3296336)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: CeltArctic

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


26 Jan 12 - 03:13 PM (#3296792)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: mayomick

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


27 Jan 12 - 04:22 PM (#3297445)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: CeltArctic

Thanks, Mayomick - I just learned something new.


21 Apr 12 - 08:24 AM (#3341241)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp

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.


21 Apr 12 - 01:51 PM (#3341368)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: mayomick

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 .


21 Apr 12 - 03:32 PM (#3341398)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: Jim Carroll

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


21 Apr 12 - 04:28 PM (#3341417)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: KHNic

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


03 Jun 16 - 12:00 PM (#3793604)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,Jungle Cafe

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


17 Apr 18 - 06:56 AM (#3917827)
Subject: RE: Champion at Keeping them Rolling
From: GUEST,henryp

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.