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The Jubilee Sov'rin

by Marriott Edgar (1937)
Illustrations by John Hassall

Suggesting some process for getting the money returned
Suggesting some process for getting the money returned

Britain's main unit of currency is the pound (a term understood to date back to Anglo-Saxon times, when silver coins called 'sterlings' were minted. The weight of 240 sterlings was one pound.)

The coin with a value of one pound had an image of the sovereign's head on one side and from 1871 until 1933, when sovereigns were withdrawn from circulation, the reverse portrayed St. George killing a dragon.

Look out for the lovely insult in the second verse of this poem, where Prince Albert makes fun of granny's ripe old age by asking how "she'd got on in the Flood."

On Jubilee Day the Ramsbottoms
Invited relations to tea,
Including young Albert's grandmother,
An awkward old ... party, was she.

She'd seen Queen Victoria's accession
And 'er wedding to Albert (the Good)
But she got quite upset when young Albert
Asked 'er 'ow she'd got on in the Flood.

She cast quite a damper on't party,
But she warmed up a bit after tea,
And gave Albert a real golden sovereign
She'd been saving since last Jubilee.

It 'ad picture of Queen on't one side
And a dragon fight on the reverse,
And it smelled of camphor and cobwebs
Through being so long in 'er purse.

Albert 'andled the coin, and 'e kissed it
And 'e felt the rough edge with 'is tongue;
For 'e knew by the look of 'is father
That it wouldn't be 'is very long.

"I'll show you a trick wi' that sovereign,"
Said Pa, 'oo were 'overin' near,
And 'e took and pretended to eat it,
Then brought it back out of 'is ear.

This magic filled Albert with wonder,
And before you could say "Uncle Dick",
'E'd got the coin back from 'is father
And performed the first part of the trick.

When they all saw where the money 'ad gone
With excitement the relatives burned;
And each one suggested some process
For getting the money returned.

Some were for fishing with tweezers,
While some were for shaking it out;
"If we only got back a few shillings,"
They said "'twould be better than nowt."

She cast quite a damper on t' party
She cast quite a damper on t' party

They tried 'olding Albert 'ead downward
And giving 'is shoulders a clump,
'Till his uncle, 'oo worked for a chemist
Said "There's nowt for it but stomach pump."

Well, they 'adn't a stomach pump 'andy,
But Pa did the best that 'e could
With a bicycle pump that they borrowed
But that weren't nearly so good.

So off they went to the doctor
'Oo looked down 'is throat with a glass;
'E said "This'll mean operation,
I fear that 'e'll 'ave to 'ave gas."

"'Ow much is this 'ere goin' to cost me?"
Said Father, beginning to squirm.
"I'm afraid that it comes out expensive,
The best gas is eight pence a therm.

There's my time, six shillings an hour;
You can't do these things in two ticks,
By rights I should charge you a guinea,
But I'll do it for eighteen and six."

"Wot, eighteen and six to get sovereign?"
Said Father, "That doesn't sound sense
I'll tell you, you'd best keep young Albert
And give us the odd eighteen pence!"

This'll mean operation
This'll mean operation
Doctor in doubt
Doctor in doubt

The doctor concurred this arrangement,
But to this day he stands in some doubt
As to whether he's in eighteen shillings
Or whether he's eighteen pence out.


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