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"I've got a flapper on the carrier" | 06-Jan-05

"I've got a flapper on the carrier,
And someday I'll marry her."

Believed to be (approximate) last lines of a poem about a man travelling around on different forms of transport e.g. car, train, bicycle etc. Learnt by my wife at school in the 1950s.

21 comments have been made on this quote. Click here to read them and then add your own!


Do you know this poem? Do you have any clues to help us find it?


Comments:

This is, I think, the last line of a poem called "The Everlasting Percy" - a Parody of Masefield's (?) "The Everlasting Mercy" . It's about travel by rail (no other form of transport) and includes many different oddly-called stations. I believe it's in the Faber Book of Comic Verse
Roy Selby

Thanks to Mr Selby for remembering this poem. After his post we found it in E.V. Knox's collection Poems of Impudence, which was published by T. Fisher Unwin in 1926.
Poetry Library

My father and uncle recited this at a family gathering sometime around 1965. They apparently remembered it from the war years.

I have been trying to find the rest of it for years. I'm fairly sure the line is mis-quoted. I remember it as:

"I've got a flapper on the carrier and someday I'm going to marry her."

Also, the version I heard was mostly about motor bikes. Of course, it is more likely that my father and uncle's version was adapted from a printed source than vice-versa.
Geoff Wyvill

Thanks to this page, I now have a copy of "Poems of Impudence". The correct lines are:
"I have a flapper on the carrier
And some day I am going to marry her."
So my father and uncle were almost right.
Geoff Wyvill

I would also like a copy of the poem Everlasting Percy for my brother in law. where would I buy a copy od Poems of Impudemce Please.
Maureen Martin

I learned this poem at school 60 years ago. It was called "Mr Masefield on the Railway Centenary" by Mnsgr E V Knox and I can still remember most of it.
"When I was young I was so wicked,
I used to ride without a ticket,
And travelled underneath the seat
Down in the dust of people's feet...."
It goes on about railway travel but ends with
"And now I have a motobike,
And up and down the dales I hike,
Seeing the lovely birds and flowers,
And windmills with their sails and towers,
And always keeping - cars be blowed-
Well on the wrong side of the road.
Never heeding hoots nor warners.
'specially around the corners.
I have a flapper on the carrier.
Some day I'm going to marry her."


Eddie Baart

Hello. The poem was originally published in Punch on 1st July 1925 and called "The Everlasting Percy". The last couplet is: " I have a flapper on the carrier / And some day I'm a-going to marry her." Incidentally we provide art quality prints of poems and ofcourse cartoons which are great for framing. See www.punch.co.uk or email me.
Andre Gailani

my Mum asked if I coud remember the rest of this verse she learned as a child before the war, we think this is the first line
"A fair little girl sat under a tree
sewing as long as her eyes could see"
Ann Distin

I learnt "The Everlasting Percy at Yeovil school in the forties. i seem to remember it begining :-
"I used to be a fearsomr lad
the things I did were downright bad
but worst of all 'twere wot I dun from seventeen to twenty-one"
it continued by refering to throwing something out of a railway carriage window
"It hit a plate-layer it did"
Through this site I now remember the "flapper"
I would love to have a copy of the complete poem!
David Easton

Yes, wish I could get a complete copy too...

here's a further couplet to jog memories:

"...at Strood and Staines
I often got on moving trains" (or off?)
Rob Marchand

Try The Poet's Tongue' an anthology by WH Auden and TS Garrett. The opening lines are: I used to be a fearful lad, The things I did were downright bad, But worst of all were what I done, From seventeen to twenty one.
Owen Everson

First lines

I used to be a sinful lad,
The things I did were downright bad.
. . . . . . .
On all the railways, far and wide,
From sinfulness and shameful pride.

........I was so wicked,
I used to go without a ticket
And travel underneath the seat,
Down in the dust of people's feet.'

There are some lines about when he pulled the communication cord:
'The guardsman came along the line.
He said, "You blinkin', blasted swine,
You'll have to pay the five pound fine."
I gave a false name and address,
Puffed up in my vaingloriousness.

I thought that I should have to swing,
And never hear the sweet birds sing.
The Jury recommended mercy,
And that's how Grace was given to Percy.'

I think the author was John Masefield and the poem was a parody of 'The Everlasting Mercy', a poem about God seekin and saving a wayward person.

The last lines may have been:
'I've got a flapper on my carrier
And one day I'm going to marry her.'
Veronica Bradney

I've just remembered lines three and four!

'But worst of all were what I done
From seventeen to twenty-one@

And a later there's this section:

'But last and worst of all I done,
I threw a great banana bun
Out of the train at Pontypridd:
It hit a plate-layer, it did.'

(That last bit comes just before 'I thought that I would have to swing...')
Veronica Bradney

Correction: It was, of course, 'a great sultana bun' (not banana!) that hit the platelayer. Bananas were few and far between in the UK when the poem was written and would certainly not have been put in buns!
Veronica Bradney

I have tried to put together what comments have been recorded.
"Mr Masefield on the Railway Centenary" by E V Knox. The poem was originally published in Punch on 1st July 1925 and called "The Everlasting Percy" also in "poems of Impudence"

I used to be a fearful lad,
The things I did were downright bad.
'But worst of all were what I done
From seventeen to twenty-one On all the railways, far and wide,
From sinfulness and shameful pride.
"When I was young I was so wicked,
I used to go without a ticket
And travel underneath the seat,
Down in the dust of people's feet.'
"I was so bad. at Strood and Staines
I often got on moving trains
'But last and worst of all I done,
I threw a great Sultana bun
Out of the train at Pontypridd:
It hit a plate-layer, it did.'
And once when I was feeling bored
I pulled Communication Cord

'The guardsman came along the line.
He said, "You blinkin', blasted swine,
You'll have to pay the five pound fine."
I gave a false name and address,
Puffed up in my vaingloriousness.

I thought that I should have to swing,
And never hear the sweet birds sing.
The Jury recommended mercy,
And that's how Grace was given to Percy.'
"And now I have a motorbike,
And up and down the dales I hike,
Seeing the lovely birds and flowers,
And windmills with their sails and towers,
And always keeping - cars be blowed-
Well on the wrong side of the road.
Never heeding hoots nor warners.
'specially around the corners.
I have a flapper on the carrier.
Some day I'm going to marry her."


Mainly contributed by Veronica Bradney and Eddie Baart

Eddie Baart

I now recall some more of the poem (isn't old age grand)):-
"I used to be a fearful lad,
The things I did were downright bad.
'But worst of all were what I done
From seventeen to twenty-one On all the railways, far and wide,
From sinfulness and shameful pride.
"When I was young I was so wicked,
I used to go without a ticket
And travel underneath the seat,
Down in the dust of people's feet.'
"I was so bad. at Strood and Staines
I often jumped on moving trains
And once when I was feeling bored
I pulled Communication Cord
'The guardsman came along the line.
He said, "You blinkin', blasted swine,
You'll have to pay the five pound fine."
I gave a false name and address,
Puffed up in my vaingloriousness.
'But last and worst of all I done,
I threw a great Sultana bun
Out of the train at Pontypridd:
It hit a plate-layer, it did.'
I thought that I should have to swing,
And never hear the sweet birds sing.
The Jury recommended mercy,
And that's how Grace was given to Percy.'
"And now I have a motorbike,
And up and down the dales I hike,
Seeing the lovely birds and flowers,
And windmills with their sails and towers,
And all the wide sweep of the Downs
And villages and country towns
And hear the mowers mowing hay
And smell the great sea far away;
And always keeping - cars be blowed-
Well on the wrong side of the road.
Never heeding hoots nor warners.
'specially around the corners.
I have a flapper on the carrier.
Some day I'm going to marry her."


Eddie Baart

One day when travelling to Newcastle
Iput a huge and heavy parcel
Upon the rack above my head
And when it tumbled down, oh Lord
I pulled communication cord
The guard came by and said
You blinkin' blasted swine
you'll have to pay the five pound fine
I simply sat and smiled and said
Is this train right for Hollyhead?
Alan Wheeler

I know this poem! I have it in an anthology of Railway Journeys compiled by Ludovic Kennedy - one of my dad's favourite books. I used to recite the poem to unwilling guests when I was just a little girl. Typed it all out below.


THE EVERLASTING PERCY
by E V Knox


I used to be a fearful lad,
The things I did were downright bad;
And worst of all were what I done
From seventeen to twenty one
On all the railways far and wide
From sinfulness and shameful pride.

For several years I was so wicked
I used to go without a ticket,
And travelled underneath the seat
Down in the dust of people's feet,
Or else I sat as bold as brass
And told them "Season" in First Class.
In 1921, at Harwich,
I smoked in a non-smoking carriage;
I never knew what Life nor Art meant,
I wrote "Reserved" on my compartment,
And once (I was a guilty man)
I swapped the labels in guard's van.

From 1922 to 4,
I leaned against the carriage door
Without a -looking at the latch;
And once, a-leaving Colnet Hatch,
I put a huge and heavy parcel
Which I were taking to Newcastle,
Entirely filled with lumps of lead,
Up on the rack above my head;
And when it tumbled down, oh Lord!
I pulled communication cord.
The guard came round and said "You mule!
What have you done you dirty fool?"
I simply sat and smiled and said
"Is this train right for Holyhead?"
He said "You blinking blasted swine,
You'll have to pay the five pound fine."
I gave a false name and address,
Puffed up with my vaingloriousness.
At Bickershaw and Strood and Staines
I've often got on moving trains,
And once alit at Norwood West
Before my coach had come to rest.
A window and a lamp I broke
At Chipping Sodbury and Stoke
And worse I did at Wissendine:
I threw out bottles on the line
And other articles as be
Likely to cause grave injury
To persons working on the line-
That's what I did at Wissendine.
I grew so careless what I'd do
Throwing out things, and dangerous too,
That, last and worst of all I'd done,
I threw a great sultana bun
Out of the train at Pontypridd-
It hit a platelayer, it did,
I thought that I should have to swing
And never hear the sweet birds sing.
The jury recommended mercy,
And that's how grace was given to Percy.

--

Meher Mirza

I read this poem in a book of Modern Verse whilst a pupil at the Bablake School leaving in 1963. I have remembered odd couplets of the verse.
Reading the last contributor to me seems that he has it all and in the right order. Where can I get a book with this poem in it.
Richard Barker

I learned the whole verse by heart during science classes.
Don't know the author. It concerns the misdeeds of Percy: "...worst of all were what I done, from seventeen till twenty-one on all the railways far and wide, from sinfulness and shameful pride..."
He finishes up by hitting a platelayer with a huge sultana bun at Pontyprid.
"I thought that I should have to swing, and never hear the sweet birds sing.
The jury reccomended mercy,
And that's how Grace was given to Percy."
He buys a motor-bike and never sounds his hooter,
"For even down the steepest hill
Redemption saves me from a spill.
I've got a flapper on my carrier,
And some day I am going to marry'er."

Bernard Kay

It is included in the Faber Book of ComicVerse. Now out of print, but you shud be able to get a copy on Amazon or abebooks.couk
Peter Betts


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