Albert and the 'Eadsman
by Marriott Edgar (1937)
Illustrations by John Hassall
Put that cleaver away
Albert and the 'Eadsman is a monologue written by Marriott Edgar (expanded later by Weston and Lee's With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm).
For Blackpuddlians in the 1930's a visit to London was more than a day trip - it was an expedition! And wise folk such as the Ramsbottoms wouldn't embark on such a quest without packing adequate slices of toast smeared with dripping left over from the Sunday roast.
Dripping is still popular for its taste, although contemporary nutritionists warn against consuming too much because of the high-calorie and high-fat.
Ghosts, it seems from the following poem, are concerned about this too!
On young Albert Ramsbottom's birthday
His parents asked what he'd like most;
He said to see t' Tower of London
And gaze upon Anne Boleyn's ghost.
They thowt this request were unusual
And at first to refuse were inclined,
'Til Pa said a trip t' metrollopse
Might broaden the little lad's mind.
They took charrybank. up to London
And got there at quarter to fower,
Then seeing as pubs wasn't open
They went straight away to the tower.
They didn't think much to the buildin'
'T weren't what they'd been led to suppose,
And the 'Bad Word' Tower didn't impress them,
They said Blackpool had got one of those.
At last Albert found a Beefeater
And filled the old chap with alarm.
By asking for Ghost of Anne Boleyn
As carried her 'ead 'neath her arm.
Said Beefeater 'You ought to come Fridays
If it's ghost of Anne Boleyn you seek,
Her union now limits her output
And she only gets one walk a week.
'But,' he said, 'if it's ghosts that you're after,
There's Lady Jane Grey's to be seen,
She runs around chased by the 'Eadsman
At midnight on th' old Tower Green.'
They waited on t' green till near midnight,
Then thinking they'd time for a sup,
They took out what food they'd brought with them
And waited for t' ghost to turn up.
On the first stroke of twelve, up jumped Albert,
His mouth full of cold, dripping toast,
With his stick with the 'orses 'ead 'andle
He pointed, and said 'Here's the ghost!'
Waiting for the ghost to turn up
They felt their skins going all goosey
As Lady Jane's Spectre drew near
And Albert fair swallered his tonsils
When the 'Eadsman an' all did appear.
The 'Eadsman chased Jane round the grass patch
They saw his axe flash in the moon
And seeing as poor lass were 'eadless
They wondered what what next he would prune.
He suddenly caught sight of Albert
As midnight was on its last chime
As he lifted his axe, father murmered
'We'll get the insurance this time.'
At that, Mother rose, taking umbridge;
She said, 'Put that cleaver away.
You're not cutting our Albert's 'ead off,
Yon collar were clean on today.
The brave little lad stood undaunted
'Til the ghost were within half a pace.
Then taking the toast he were eating,
Slapped it, dripping side down, in his face.
'T were a proper set-back for the 'Eadsman
He let out one 'owl of despair,
Then taking his ladyfriend with him
He disappeared - just like that, there.
When Pa saw the way as they vanished
He trembled with fear and looked blue,
'Til Ma went and patted his shoulder
An' said, 'Sallright lad, we saw it too.'
Some say 'twere the drippin' as done it,
From a roast leg of mutton it came,
And as th' 'Eadsman had been a Beefeater
They reckon he vanished from shame.
And around Tower Green, from that moment,
They've ne're seen a sign of the ghost,
But when t' Beefeaters go on night duty,
They take slices of cold drippin' toast.
Slapping dripping toast on face
char-á-banc: A large bus with open sides and no centre aisle. Used for sightseeing tours.