Prompt no. 3 of NaPoWriMo was to write a sea shanty. This pleased me greatly as I’m a part of (when I can make it!) the Ocean Loiners – a sea shanty singing group in Leeds (hence the name: Leeds folk are known as ‘Loiners’)…
Here’s a video of us belting out ‘Three Jolly Fishermen’ at the Theatre By the Lake in Bradford in October last year. (I am the lanky one in the blue t-shirt in case you’re wondering!)
I’ve turned my attention to the place where I live as the subject for my shanty – as I live on a floating home (a narrowboat), so shanties feel like (spuriously) part of my sailor heritage. This is a song about how places like the one on which I live don’t always pan out as hoped for! Technically, I suppose this should be an Inland Waterway Shanty…
And, as an experiment, I made up an extremely derivative tune and then SANG it, into my phone via SoundCloud – shanties are meant to be sung! Hopefully you can listen to the whole thing above and not be turned deaf / mad / made to unsubscribe from the blog in disgust…
So you can sing along, if you like:
A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development
In the Early Noughties, ‘pon the booming swell,
It was BUY BUY BUY, it was SELL SELL SELL:
So they built above the water of Clarence Dock
Luxury apartments and fancy shops.
Oh the Dock, she be in a right old mess,
With her Pizza Express and her Tesco Express
And her – yes – her Holiday-Inn Express:
They’re the only things fast enough to float,
Except for curry houses and narrow boats.
And they built a special section with its own jetty
Where the fancy floating restaurants would be:
Now the only thing a-moored around the butts of fags
Are the blue-striped plastic carrier bags.
Sometimes in the night you can hear the hullaballoo
Of some merry-making drunks (who are only passing through).
But the only voices bouncing off the moored ships’ hulls
Are the quacking ducks’ and the screeching gulls’.
Now in an empty window of an old high-fashion store
There’s a hopeful artist’s image of what could have come before.
And like the ocean’s waves, there’s one thing that you can trust:
Is that after there’s a boom, there will always be a bust.