Branscombe Bay + The Napoli

(or Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth!)

At Sidmouth 07, I was asked to run a songwriting course on the theme of the beaching of The Napoli, which was still lying just off the town. On the Monday, two ladies from the Branscombe Oral History Society contributed this largely true story. On the Friday, Richard Toller presented this song - which I have, with his permission, adapted to my style.

Down at Devon races, an old woman grabbed my hand
Said never mind those ponies, Branscombe Bay’s your man
Well I watched him in the viewing ring, and the odds looked mighty fine
So I tossed my lucky penny high, the copper spun against the sky
I called it tails it fell that way, but Branscombe Bay was lame that day
He never crossed the line

Driving empty handed, ashamed of what I’d done
I saw a sign for Branscome, and curiosity won
The Devon lane it drew me ever deeper into night
Till suddenly the ocean’s sound, a beach and people roaring round 
As hundreds run from every side, all heaving cases from the tide
And crowing with delight

And then I saw a vision, or so it seemed to me
A mighty metal stallion, a dream of power and speed
But he was mired in gravel, half buried deep in sand
I pulled till I could no pull more, that bike was fast upon the shore
I knew I’d need a team to thank, I drew the keys from out the tank
And closed them in my hand

But when my team assembled, Jim, Richard, Bob and me
Another gang of had wrangled my stallion from the sea
My hand upon the handlebars, I boldly bade them stand
You may be Lords of Branscombe Bay, and finders keepers so they say
But I was first to make a move, this to you I’ll gladly prove
The keys are in my hand

They saw that they were stymied, and something must be done
I said if we’re all betting men, a wager we’ll put on
I took my lucky penny, and flung it through the night
The copper spun against the stars, it seemed to spin for hours and hours 
I knew this time it could not fail, they called out "heads" it fell down tails
The horse was mine by right

The tank was full of fuel and my ship at last came in
The engine roared we hit the road, the silver wheels a-spin
And slowly I remembered, what that woman had to say
And suddenly the penny dropped, I squeezed the brakes my stallion stopped
It's no more gee-gees now for me, with these CCs I'll win TTs
Thanks to Branscombe Bay

The Napoli

And Anne Wooby presented this (which again I've mucked about with). Tune is, of course Waly Waly

A ship there is, and sails the sea

Can you guess her name? yes - it's The Napoli

But now she wails (O waly waly), I am so forlorn

My better half, just upped and gorn


Oh, he was bonny, he was brave and true

The best bow end, that I ever knew

But now asunder we’ve been sorely rent

Three wond’rous, thund’rous bangs - then orf he went


In Branscombe Bay in vain we tried

Our treasure trove to hold inside

But alas for me and me darling boy

Twas robbed we was, by the hoi polloi


Now my truelove, my bow, my beau, - is an empty shell

While I lie low, like a stranded whale

Who’ll want me now? All bereft and scarred

While he sails off to the knackers’ yard


The water is wide, I can't cross o'or

Nor do I have wide wings to fly

Build me a boat, that won't break in two

And both shall row, my love and I