A bit of humor from days past

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Nov 25, 1998
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I am a great fan of Stanly Holloway, the old time British music hall comic who is best known in the US for playing Alfred Doolittle, the father of Eliza, in "My Fair Lady". But he had a long history of extremely funny monologues from his music hall days and what follows is one of them. I was most surprised to learn that someone else had written it. The first time that I heard it, I was listening to a record of his in a library, using earphones, and I was laughing so hard that they took the record away. I bought a copy and have it at home. I can never hear or read this without laughing. If any of you have ever fired a muzzle-loader, been in a black powder era re-enactment, or watched a segeant trying to teach folks who have never held a firearm how to shoot a rifle, this should amuse you as well.

MARKSMAN SAM
by
Marriott Edgar

When Sam Small joined the regiment,*
'E were no' but a raw recruit,
And they marched 'im away one wint'ry day,
'Is musket course to shoot.

They woke 'im up at the crack o' dawn,
Wi' many a nudge and shake,
'E were dreaming that t' Sergeant 'ad broke 'is neck,
And 'e didn't want to wake.

Lieutenant Bird came on parade,
And chided the lads for mooning,
'E talked in a voice like a pound o' plums,
'Is tonsils needed pruning.

"Move to the right by fours," he said,
Crisp like but most severe,
But Sam didn't know 'is right from 'is left,
So pretended 'e didn't 'ear.

Said Lieutenant, "Sergeant, take this man's name."
The Sergeant took out 'is pencil,
'E were getting ashamed o' taking Sam's name,
And were thinking o' cutting a stencil.

Sam carried a musket, a knapsack and coat,
Spare boots that 'e'd managed to wangle,
A 'atchet, a spade... in fact, as Sam said,
'E'd got everything bar t'kitchen mangle.

"March easy men," Lieutenant cried,
As the musket range grew near,
"March easy me blushing Aunt Fanny," said Sam,
"What a chance with all this 'ere."

When they told 'im to fire at five 'undred yards,
Sam nearly 'ad a fit,
For a six foot wall, or the Albert 'All,
Were all 'e were likely to 'it.

'E'd fitted a cork in 'is musket end,
To keep 'is powder dry,
And 'e didn't remember to take it out,
The first time 'e let fly.

'Is gun went off with a kind o' pop,
Where 'is bullet went no-one knew,
But next day they spoke of a tinker's moke,
Being killed by a cork... in Crewe.

At three 'undred yards, Sam shut 'is eyes,
And took a careful aim,
'E failed to score but the marker swore,
And walked away quite lame.

At two 'undred yards, Sam fired so wild,
That the Sergeant feared for 'is skin,
And the lads all cleared int' t' neighbouring field,
And started to dig 'emselves in.

"Ooh, Sergeant! I hear a scraping noise,"
Said Sam, "What can it be?"
The noise that 'e 'eard were lieutenant Bird,
'Oo were climbing the nearest tree.

"Ooh, Sergeant!" said Sam, "I've 'it the bull!
What price my shooting now?"
Said the Sergeant, "A bull? Yer gormless fool,
Yon isn't a bull... it's a cow!"

At fifty yards 'is musket kicked,
And went off with a noise like a blizzard,
And down came a crow looking fair surprised,
With a ram-rod through 'is gizzard.

As 'e loaded 'is musket to fire agen,
Said the Sergeant, "Don't waste shot!
Yer'd best fix bayonets and charge, my lad,
It's the only chance yer've got.

Sam kept loading 'is gun while the Sergeant spoke,
Till the bullets peeped out of the muzzle,
When all of a sudden it went off bang!
What made it go were a puzzle.

The bullets flew out in a kind of a spray,
And everything round got peppered,
When they counted 'is score... 'e'd got eight bulls eyes,
Four magpies, two lambs and a shepherd.

And the Sergeant for this got a D.C.M.
And the Colonel an O.B.E.
Lieutenant Bird got the D.S.O.
And Sam got... five days C.B.**

* The regiment is the Third Lancastershire Fusiliers, pronounced
"Lankashier Fuzeliers" on the record.

** For those not familiar with British military terminology, according to http://www.bobbuick.com/medals/imperial_military_awards.htm:
DCM-Distinguished Conduct Medal, for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men, for "distinguished, gallant, and good conduct", held to be roughly equivalent to the US Distinguished Service Cross
OBE-Order of the British Empire, an award initially issued in WWI to non-combatants for their distinguished service, it has several levels, the top two being Knighthood orders bestowed by the monarch, US equivalents might include various awards up to the Medal of Freedom
DSO-Distinguished Service Order, the equivalent of the DCM for officers below the rank of Major, again roughly equivalent tot he US Distinguished Service Cross

C.B. means "Confinement to Barracks" and was used as a minor punishment.
 
Thanks for that, I haven't heard the record for years. The record of course is better than just the printed word .
 
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