Saturday, 28 September 2013

Good Smut - the Threshing Machine

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The English word 'smut' refers to sexual innuendo - especially the comedy use of the double entendre or double meaning.

When this is done well it is extremely amusing, causative of tears of merriment - and to be done well the system of double meanings must be applied with something of the strictness of an allegory.

The following example is a personal favourite which used to be sung (in various versions) in the West Country of my youth - in a rustic dialect and to the well-known tune "Villikins and His Dinah".

Here is the tune (different words): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOycdrSrqyQ

I have indeed performed it myself in public, in a duo calling ourselves The Muckspreaders: me playing the accordeon and joining the chorus and my friend Gareth singing raucously, smiting a tamourine, and thumping the floor with a thumb-stick.

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This is my recollection of the words, which I think came from The Yetties group.

Twere way down in Dorset or so I hear tell
There lived a young maiden and her name it were Nell
Now Nell she were pretty and just seventeen
When I showed her the works of me threshing machine
 

ChorusIyader, Iyader, Iyader IyayIyader, Iyader, Iyader Iyay 
Iyader, Iyader, Iyader Iyay
and I ups and I shows 'er the way

Twas one summer's morning in the merry month of May
When most of the farmers were out making hay
I cocked up me ear'oles and heard a girt scream
I says "Ah there goes Nell on thick threshing machine"

Chorus....
 

Twas one summer's evening in the merry month of June
When most of the farmers were lookin' at the moon
I said "come to the barn Nell where us won't be seen
And I'll show 'ee the works of me threshing machine"

Chorus....

I opened the barn door and there stood my dream
Er worked the oilcan whilst I worked up steam
Twere wondrous to see both the thrust and the drive
and when 'er come out 'twere more dead than alive

Chorus....

The flywheels and the pistons were a going around
When from the steam whistle came an 'orrible sound
I puts down me hand for to cut off the steam...
But the chaff had been blown from me threshing machine

Chorus....

Twas nine months later a baby she bore
And the pride of his Mother he was to be sure
Cos under his nappy could plainly be seen
 A bran' new two cylinder threshing machine.
 

Chorus.... 

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In this fine example of smut, the double meanings work almost perfectly ('more dead than alive' somewhat jumps ahead in the narrative, which then loops-back), with decent and smutty meanings mapping onto one another - and the last verse provides a decoding about what thrashing machine really means (or else, a surreal image!).

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