"The Old Main Drag" as written by and Shane Patrick Lysaght Macgowan....
When I first came to London I was only sixteen
With a fiver in my pocket and my ole dancing bag
I went down to the dilly to check out the scene
And i soon ended up on the old main drag

There the he-males and the she-males paraded in style
And the old man with the money would flash you a smile
In the dark of an alley you'd work for a fiver
For a swift one off the wrist down on the old main drag

In the cold winter nights the old town it was chill
But there were boys in the cafes who'd give you cheap pills
If you didn't have the money you'd cajole or you'd beg
There was always lots of tuinol on the old main drag

One evening as I was lying down by leicester square
I was picked up by the coppers and kicked in the balls
Between the metal doors at vine street I was beaten and mauled
And they ruined my good looks for the old main drag

In the tube station the old ones who were on the way out
Would dribble and vomit and grovel and shout
And the coppers would come along and push them about
And I wished I could escape from the old main drag

And now I'm lying here I've had too much booze
I've been shat on and spat on and raped and abused
I know that I am dying and I wish I could beg
For some money to take me from the old main drag

Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death, edited by epiwoosh

"The Old Main Drag" as written by Shane Macgowan


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The Old Main Drag song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe old main drag - London's Red Light District
    is about a narrator new to the city who becomes addicted to pain killers then abused and beaten by police
    Sir_commenting_slagon July 11, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYes, that's what "off the wrist" mean. Definition from a slang dictionary:

    __one off the wrist; quick one off the wrist noun (of a male) an
    act of masturbation. The adjective ‘quick’ (or occasional variations)
    does not denote an especially speedy endeavour, its purpose is to
    elaborate the basic term. UK, 1973__


    Great song, btw.
    GongusWronguson January 13, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlso sounds like he resorts to turning tricks in order earn drug money.I think a swift one off the wrist refers to a small shot of heroin or some other intravenous drug. This is a great song. I love how nitty gritty it is about street life. My favorite line is, "I been spat on and shat on and raped and abused".
    Kaguthon April 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is a great song. last year me and my friends made a music video for it for a project in photography class. they thought the song was hella gay and made fun of me for it, but fuck 'em. i did all the work and we had a great time taking the pictures.

    anyway, i'm pretty sure a swift one off the wrist refers to a hand job from a hooker.
    MrGoodBaron April 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah that one seemed obvious.
    does anyone know how much (if any) of this is actually true to shane mcgowan comming to london, because he was definatly very young and very poor when he did.
    joeytheboyon September 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfor some reason i thought he came when he was about 12 or something. i know it says iin the 'if i should fall from grace' documentary.
    goodbaron December 28, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI thought he was about 8. He was expelled from school for selling drugs, but i don't think he was ever a rentboy
    Androgynouson March 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentanyway, i'm pretty sure a swift one off the wrist refers to a hand job from a hooker
    its not from a hooker, he is the hooker. its about him being a rent boy, hence

    "And they ruined my good looks for the old main drag"
    sl8ron March 01, 2007   Link

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