excellent and extraordinarily obvious
Thanks for the pointer.
a bit unfortunate that old docs for a module that doesn't seem to exist in py3 with less clear but still correct words is still the top google result for python string strip.
Return a copy of the string with leading characters removed. If chars is omitted or None, whitespace characters are removed. If given and not None, chars must be a string; the characters in the string will be stripped from the beginning of the string this method is called on.