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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Mike Foster Lyr Req: Eskimo Nell (51* d) RE: Lyr Req: Eskimo Nell 25 Sep 08

I remember this ballad from a book of Rugby Songs published by Pan in the UK around 1968.

As a teenager I thought the obscenities were hilarious, but I was shocked when my father recited some of it from memory.

He'd learned it while on patrol in submarines based on Alexandria in 1941/1942. In between landing secret agents on Crete and torpedoing Italian ships, the crews occupied their time with beard-growing competitions and memorising Eskimo Nell competitions.

He had (and I think still has) a carbon copy from which he memorised the ballad, so it is possible to learn the whole thing. When you're stuck in a tin can underwater for 18 hours at a time hoping the depth charges don't come any closer, it's probably easy to concentrate on on a smutty masterpiece like this.

He says it was widely believed the ballad was written by Noel Coward.

The reason I visited this website today is that I came across a recitation of Robert Service's The Shooting of Dan McGrew on BBC Radio 4's Poetry Please last Sunday. For the first minute I was convinced it was a part of Eskimo Nell I'd never heard before. The rhythm of the two poems is identical, which is why Eskimo Nell is obviuosly an excellent parody of Dam McGrew.

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