In 1982 a group of friends from the Hull folk scene hired a couple of narrow boats for a week’s holiday on the Avon Ring. Opening, closing and filling locks on the canals was a new experience for most of the group and at that time some of the winding mechanisms were a bit stiff through lack of maintenance.
One of the group had particular difficulty with the winding handle (lock key) which would slip off the axle just as the paddle was almost fully open and the paddle would suddenly drop back down with a loud clatter and have to be wound up again. On one occasion the grip on the handle was lost completely and the lock key spun round frantically and flew off into the lock. Fortunately a man with a large magnet was nearby and for a small fee the lock key was retrieved.
Dave Hill was so taken with this incident that when he got home after the trip he wrote this tune, which represents the winding up and sudden drop of the paddles and the lock key’s eventual flying off into the lock.