Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Lion and Albert

My Uncle Albert used to recite this poem/monologue at parties, when the grown ups had all had few bottles of brown ale or advocaat and we kids were on orange squash.

It was written by Marriott Edgar in 1932 and made famous by Stanley Holloway, and my Uncle Albert.

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 young Albert,
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle,
The finest that Woolworth could sell.

They didn't think much to the Ocean:
The waves, they was fiddlin' and small,
There was no wrecks and 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 Camels,
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 somnolent posture,
With the side of his face on the bars.

Now Albert had heard about Lions,
How they was ferocious and wild -
To see Wallace lying so peaceful,
Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with its '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 'ole.

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

Then 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 boy he's eaten?'
Pa said 'Am I sure? There's his cap!'

The manager had to be sent for,
He came and said 'What's to do?'
Pa said 'Yon Lion's 'et 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,
Saying '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 was decided upon.

Then off they went to the P'lice Station,
In front of the Magistrate chap;
They told 'im what happened to Albert,
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame,
And 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!'

The Budapest Protocol by Adam LeBor

At work yesterday a chap came in looking at books and mentioned The Budapest Protocol by Adam LeBor.

In a nutshell it's a thriller, based on released US intelligence reports, about the growth of the far-right in Hungary and the unsavoury roots of the European Union. To read a full synopsis please click on the link above which will take you to LeBor's website.

I look forward to the book arriving and will be doing a review when I've read it.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Book Review: Jerusalem by Patrick Neate

I can't remember the last time I started a book but couldn't be bothered to finish it. Jerusalem changed all that. I managed to get to page 235, but couldn't bear to read another page.

'The most thought provoking novel of the year. An utterly essential read' says Irvine Welsh on the front cover. Only if you've been snorting something or smoking something you shouldn't.

It tries to be a clever book, jumping from the Boer War to a bling covered moron of the talentless and vulgar modern media times, then to a tinpot African dictatorship. I failed to follow the connections so the book just seemed to inexplicably jump from theme to theme.

The characters are shallow, cliched and generate no warmth or sympathy. A bit of depth in the characters may have gone some way to redeeming the book, but they are as unconvincing as the plot(s).

Ultimately I think it was meant to be an attack on capitalism and our Imperial past. But it failed misersably.

Please don't waste your time, life's too short.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

David Nicholls is an extremely entertaining writer of 'modern classics', including the hit TV series Cold Feet. This book is a must if you enjoy moving tales of modern life. In some ways Nicholls is a much lighter Patrick Hamilton for the twenty-first century.

One Day is the story of Dexter and Emma in the years following their graduation celebration. What are they doing on the anniversary of their graduation in the years that follow? The book humourously, and movingly, tells the story of their lives and loves as they keep in touch, then lose touch, then get back in touch with each other.

The atmosphere shifts from the 1980s, into the 1990s and then the 2000s seamlessly and skilfully, the sign of a truly great writer. The pages will have you laughing then moved almost to tears as their lives, loves, mistakes and disasters unfold.

Dexter can be a clown, but always manages to redeem himself and maintain your sympathy. Emma is the down to earth sensible Northern woman with a strong romantic alter ego, she invariably saves Dexter over the years.

As their university friends eventually settle down to married life, Dexter's life falls apart slowly and painfully. Emma's life is more stable but she still yearns for someone else. Where will their friendship lead?

This book really is a must.