The Old Red Duster
Written by John Archbold who was a member of the Toronto Morris Men singing round the campfire at the Martitme Festival at Penetanguishene a few (now more than a few!) years back. The song is based mostly on his father’s experiences at sea.
- Now it’s many’s the day since I first sailed away
With my new cap and jacket so clean
No bacon and eggs ’til I got my sea legs
‘Twas my first trip, O Lord I was green.
Oh that Old Red Duster on a tramp or a liner
There’ll be no ‘Pussar Navy’ for me
You can keep your salutes and your spit polished boots,
It’s the Old Red Duster for me.
- Now in many’s the ship I’ve made many’s the trip
‘Cross oceans and seas calm and wild
And in ports near and far I’ve been flung from the bar
And it’s many’s the young girl beguiled.
- I was pulled from the pool, I was nobody’s fool
‘Twas the jaunt up to Murmansk for me.
But The Union said, No, as a fourth he can’t go’
It’s The Union forever for me.
- Now you know this old tramp’s got a foc’sle that’s damp
Her plates are half sprung and they leak
The food’s always bad and the skipper’s gone mad
And those bastards the owners are cheap.
- Well I’ve sweated and slaved at that engine I’ve raved
Nursing this cripple along
Her glands they’re a-weeping and her pumps they’re a creakin’
And at six knots she’s racing along.
- I’ve been down in the hole in the dust and the coal
All day and all night as well.
And when my end’s near I’ll go without fear
For I know it’s been hotter than Hell!
- So now you all know why the true sailors go
Merchant seamen to be
And if you want any more like what’s come before
You can bloody well sing it to me.