Afloat on birdsong, hawthorn petals and young leaves
Sept. 19, 2021

The Gongoozler and the Nomad

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This week we catch up with news of our little swan family and explore the strange word ‘gongoozler’. What does it mean? Where does it come from? In some ways it functions as a shibboleth. Its use identifying the ‘true’ canal people from those outside the community. However, it also shines a light on tensions of modern day living. 

Journal entry:

“15th September, Wednesday

Dawn filled with the scent of autumn notes.
 Rooks stream like smoke or falling leaves
     Across the ragged sky
            Haunted by geese calls
                     Flying east into the rising sun.”            

Episode Information

The website to which I refer in this episode is ‘Word Histories’ and the entry for ‘gongoozler’ is here:‘Meaning and origin of ‘Gongoozler’’.

I also refer to the following:

HR De Salis (1904/2012)  Bradshaw's Canals and Navigable Rivers of England and Wales republished by Old House Books (among others)

L.T.C. Rolt (1944) Narrow Boat first published by Eire and Spottiswoode

General Details

In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at

Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence. 

Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.

All other audio recorded on site. 

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