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My grandfather on my mother's side was a great one for songs and stories and performance pieces. Years ago, I found a copy of this monologue by Marriott Edgar amongst his papers. I forgot about it until yesterday when Angela was reciting "My Friend Jim," which includes the line "tomatoes are soft and don't bruise the skin, but this one did - it was wrapped in a tin." Not that The Lion and Albert has anything to do with tomatoes, but there is a death played to comical effect.

Marriott Edgar came from Scotland. He wrote quite a number of monologues for performance by Stanley Holloway. In fact, he wrote more of Holloway's monologues than Holloway did. (Holloway was renowned for his recordings of dramatic and comic monologues, and had a lengthy career as an actor as well - his most memorable role was as Alfred Dolittle in My Fair Lady.) The name of the lion (Wallace) is a reference to his illegitimate half-brother, Edgar Wallace, and has nothing to do with Wallis Simpson (a common misconception).

Although written as a performance piece, it counts as a poem as it's written in rhyme (and, more specifically, using a Northern English accent).

The Lion and Albert
by Marriott Edgar

There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool,
That's noted for fresh-air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was their Albert
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
'E'd a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle
The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much to the ocean
The waves, they was fiddlin' and small
There was no wrecks... nobody drownded
'Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all.

So, seeking for further amusement
They paid and went into the zoo
Where they'd lions and tigers and cam-els
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big lion called Wallace
His nose were all covered with scars
He lay in a som-no-lent posture
With the side of his face to the bars.

Now Albert had heard about lions
How they were ferocious and wild
And to see Wallace lying so peaceful
Well... it didn't seem right to the child.

So straight 'way the brave little feller
Not showing a morsel of fear
Took 'is stick with the'orse's 'ead 'andle
And pushed it in Wallace's ear!

You could see that the lion didn't like it
For giving a kind of a roll
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im
And swallowed the little lad... whole!

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence
And didn't know what to do next
Said, "Mother! Yon lions 'et Albert"
And Mother said "Eeh, I am vexed!"

So Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Quite rightly, when all's said and done
Complained to the Animal Keeper
That the lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it
He said, "What a nasty mishap
Are you sure that it's your lad he's eaten?"
Pa said, "Am I sure? There's his cap!"

So the manager had to be sent for
He came and he said, "What's to do?"
Pa said, "Yon lion's 'eaten our Albert
And 'im in his Sunday clothes, too."

Then Mother said, "Right's right, young feller
I think it's a shame and a sin
For a lion to go and eat Albert
And after we've paid to come in!"

The manager wanted no trouble
He took out his purse right away
And said, "How much to settle the matter?"
And Pa said "What do you usually pay?"

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone
She said, "No! someone's got to be summonsed"
So that were decided upon.

Round they went to the Police Station
In front of a Magistrate chap
They told 'im what happened to Albert
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his o-pinion
That no-one was really to blame
He said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing
"And thank you, sir, kindly," said she
"What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy lions? Not me!"


You can watch a fine gentleman performing the piece at YouTube (where you can also find a recording of Stanley Holloway's recitation accompanied by a few photographic stills). Here is Eric Storm with a bang-up performance of this monologue/poem (written, appropriately, in ballad form):







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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
ex_lgburns
Apr. 18th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC)
Bloody hell, that was spectacular!

So much more fun to hear it read than to read it meself on the screen.

Loree
(who has aquired a little accent, y'see)
kellyrfineman
Apr. 19th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
Is he not marvelous?
boreal_owl
Apr. 18th, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
"What do you usually pay?"
Love it!!!
kellyrfineman
Apr. 19th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
I've laughed about this poem off and on for years, and today seemed the day to post it.
saralholmes
Apr. 18th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
That guy's brilliant---his ability to summon character with a twitch of his eye!
kellyrfineman
Apr. 19th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)
I thought he was brilliant.
liz_scanlon
Apr. 18th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
OK. I have got to watch that again. Lordy, I love that.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 19th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)
Me too.
cloudscome
Apr. 19th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
"What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy lions? Not me!"

ROFL He is unbelievable! Thanks for making my day.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 19th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
You are most welcome!
ext_94934
Apr. 19th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
Super!
This reminds me of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children and the poem "Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion". Check it out at:
http://www.emule.com/poetry/?page=poem&poem=4369

I haven't heard an accent like Eric Storm's for a while; it's perfect for this poem.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 20th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Re: Super!
Excellent suggestion - I'd not seen that one before. There's also Shel Silverstein's poem "It's Dark in Here.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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