Back to the main page

"Cats" and all related things are the property of Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Really Useful Group, and related parties. Lyrics are taken from and based off "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" and other poems by T.S. Eliot, with additions by Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe. No copyright infringement is intended.
Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat
Sung by: Skimbleshanks and The Company
Original London Cast
Original Broadway Cast
Original Australian Cast
Video
Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train

There's a whisper down the line at eleven thirty-nine
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying, "Skimble, where is Skimble, has he gone to hunt the thimble
We must find him or the train can't start!"


All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
Would be searching high and low
Saying "Skimble, where is Skimble, for unless he's very nimble
Then the Night Mail just won't go."

At eleven forty-two with the signal overdue
And the passengers all frantic to a man -
That's when I would appear and I'd saunter to the rear:
I'd been busy in the luggage van!


Then he gave one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal went "All clear!"

They'd be off at last to the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!


Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


You could say that by and large it was me who was in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
I would supervise them all, more or less.


Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.

He would watch you without winking
And he knows what you were thinking
And it's certain that he didn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk were very quiet
When Skimble was about and on the move.

You could play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a cat that cannot be ignored;
So nothing went wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks was aboard.


It was very pleasant when they found their little den,
With their name written up on the door.
And the berth was very neat with a newly folded sheet,
And not a speck of dust upon the floor.

There was every sort of light - you could make it dark or bright:
And a button you could turn to make a breeze.
And a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face
in
And a crank to shut the window should you sneeze.

Then the guard looked in politely and would ask you very brightly

"Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?"
But I was just behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.


When they crept into their cozy berths and pulled up the counterpane
They all could reflect it was very nice
To know that they wouldn't be bothered by mice
They could leave all that to the railway cat
The cat of the railway train.

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


In the watches of the night I was always fresh and bright;
Every now and then I'd have a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of scotch while I was keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
They were fast asleep at Crewe and so they never knew
That I was walking up and down the station;
They were sleeping all the while I was busy at Carlisle,
Where I met the station-master with elation.

They might see me at Dumfries, if I summoned the police
If there was anything they ought to know about:

When they got to Gallowgate there they did not have to
wait -
For Skimbleshanks will help them to get out!

And he gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: "I'll see you again!"
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The cat of the railway train

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train

There's a whisper down the line at eleven thirty-nine
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying, "Skimble, where is Skimble, has he gone to hunt the thimble
We must find him or the train can't start!"


All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
Would be searching high and low
Saying "Skimble, where is Skimble, for unless he's very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can't go."

At eleven forty-two with the signal overdue
And the passengers all frantic to a man -
That's when I would appear and I'd saunter to the rear:
I'd been busy in the luggage van!


Then he gave one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal went "All clear!"

They'd be off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!


Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


You might say that by and large it was me who was in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
I would supervise them all, more or less.


Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.

He would watch you without winking
And he saw what you were thinking
And it's certain that he didn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk were very quiet
When Skimble was about and on the move.

You could play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a cat that couldn't be ignored;
So nothing went wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks was aboard.


It was very pleasant when they found their little den,
With their name written up on the door.
And the berth was very neat with a newly folded sheet,
And not a speck of dust upon the floor.

There was every sort of light - you could make it dark or bright:
And a button you could turn to make a breeze.
And a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face
in
And a crank to shut the window should you sneeze.

Then the guard looked in politely and would ask you very brightly
"Do you like your morning tea
weak or strong?"
But I was right behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.


When they crept into their cozy berth and pulled up the counterpane
They all could reflect it was very nice
To know that they wouldn't be bothered by mice
They could leave all that to the railway cat
The cat of the railway train.

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


In the watches of the night I was always fresh and bright;
Every now and then I'd have a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of scotch while I was keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
They were fast asleep at Crewe and so they never knew
That I was walking up and down the station;
They were sleeping all the while I was busy at Carlisle,
Where I met the station-master with elation.

They might see me at Dumfries, if I summoned the police
If there was anything they ought to know about:

When they got to Gallowgate there they did not have to
wait -
For Skimbleshanks would help them to get out!

And he gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: "I'll see you again!"
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The cat of the railway train

You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The cat of the railway train!

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train

There's a whisper down the line at eleven thirty-nine
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying, "Skimble, where is Skimble, has he gone to hunt the thimble
We must find him or the train can't start!"


All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
Would be searching high and low
Saying "Skimble, where is Skimble, for unless he's very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can't go."

At eleven forty-two with the signals overdue
And the passengers all frantic to a man -
That's when I would appear and I'd saunter to the rear:
I'd been busy in the luggage van!


Then he gave one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal went "All clear!"

They'd be off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!


Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


You could say that by and large it is me who was in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
I would supervise them all, more or less.


Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.

He would watch you without winking
And he saw what you were thinking
And it's certain that he didn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk were very quiet
When Skimble was about and on the move.

You could play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a cat that couldn't be ignored;
So nothing went wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks was aboard.


It was very pleasant when they found their little den,
With their name written up on the door.
And the berth was very neat with a newly folded sheet,
And not a speck of dust upon the floor.

There was every sort of light - you could make it dark or bright:
And a button you could turn to make a breeze.
And a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face
in
And a crank to shut the window should you sneeze.

Then the guard looked in politely and would ask you very brightly
"Do you like your morning tea
weak or strong?"
But I was just behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.


When they crept into their cozy berths and pulled up the counterpane
They all could reflect it was very nice
To know that they wouldn't be bothered by mice
They could leave all that to the railway cat
The cat of the railway train.

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


In the watches of the night I was always fresh and bright;
Every now and then I'd have a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of scotch while I was keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
They were fast asleep at Crewe and so they never knew
That I was walking up and down the station;
They were sleeping all the while I was busy at Carlisle,
Where I met the station-master with elation.

They might see me at Dumfries, if I summoned the police
If there was anything they ought to know about:

When they got to Gallowgate there they did not have to
wait -
For Skimbleshanks would help them to get out!

And he gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: "I'll see you again!"
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The cat of the railway train

You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The cat of the railway train!

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train

There's a whisper down the line at eleven thirty-nine
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying, "Skimble, where is Skimble, has he gone to hunt the thimble
We must find him or the train can't start!"


All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
Would be searching high and low
Saying "Skimble, where is Skimble, for unless he's very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can't go."

At eleven forty-two with the signal overdue
And the passengers all frantic to a man -
That's when I would appear and I'd saunter to the rear:
I'd been busy in the luggage van!


Then he gave one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal went "All clear!"

They'd be off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!


Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


You could say that by and large it was me who was in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
I'd supervise them all, more or less.


Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.

He would watch you without winking
And he saw what you were thinking
And it's certain that he didn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk were very quiet
When Skimble was about and on the move.

You could play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a cat that cannot be ignored;
So nothing went wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks was aboard.


It was very pleasant when they found their little den,
With the name written up on the door.
And the berth was very neat with a newly folded sheet,
And not a speck of dust upon the floor.

There was every sort of light - so you could make it dark or bright:
And a button you could turn to make a breeze.
And a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face
in
And a crank to shut the window should you sneeze.

Then the guard looked in politely and would ask you very brightly
"Do you like your morning tea
weak or strong?"
But I was just behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.


When they crept into their cozy berths and pulled up the counterpane
They all could reflect it was very nice
To know that they wouldn't be bothered by mice
They could leave all that to the railway cat
The cat of the railway train.

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train

Skimbleshanks the railway
cat
The cat of the railway train


In the watches of the night I was always fresh and bright;
Every now and then I'd have a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of scotch when I was keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
They were fast asleep at Crewe and so they never knew
That I was walking up and down the station;
They were sleeping all the while I was busy at Carlisle,
Where I met the station-master with elation.

They might see me at Dumfries, if I summoned the police
If there was anything they ought to know about:

When they got to Gallowgate there they did not have to
wait -
For Skimbleshanks would help them to get out!

And he gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: "I'll see you again!"
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The cat of the railway train

The cat of the railway train!

Notes

The liner notes for the Broadway CD just list Skimbleshanks as the singer of this song (and as noted elsewhere on the site, the Australian CD doesn't note who sings what for any of the songs), but the London CD's liner notes are more specific - the singers for that version are Skimbleshanks, George, Tantomile, Cassandra, Rumpelteazer, Victoria, Jemima, Coricopat, Carbucketty and the kittens. Unfortunately, I'm really bad at picking out voices. ^^; So I had to just resort to listing the lyrics as they are above, instead of specifying which character sings what line - sorry about that. (Having said that - the singers swap back and forth more in the original London version, than they do in the other three versions I have listed above. But it's one of those differences that you're really going to have to listen to the song to appreciate it ^^;).

Live versions of this show are pretty much the same as they are in the video, except for one notable change; the way the scene ends (and transitions into "Macavity") is a little different. The cast sing the final verse ("You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail.." etc), break for applause, and then they start singing again: "Skimbleshanks the railway cat / The cat of the railway train / In the watches of the night I was always fresh and bright..".. before Macavity shows up and interrupts things. How much they sing before Macavity appears varies between productions - I've seen versions that cut off after "Every now and then I'd have a cup of tea" and some that cut off after "If there was anything they ought to know about".. it really just depends on the production. (This isn't present on any of the CDs either - it was likely cut for time constraints.)

Oh - and re: the line "it is me who was in charge" from the Australian version - yes, I know it's grammatically incorrect; it's their error, not mine. :P