Wednesday, 24 December 2008

212: Christmas 5

from “Punch” 19 Dec 1984
“New Recitations for Your Party” by E.S. Turner


"'E was young and 'e was tender,
Much inclined to preen and pout,
Not too certain of 'is gender -
There's a lot of it about.

Sorely did 'is father clout 'im,
Saying, "'Op it! On yer bike!"
Telling all who asked about him,
"'E's a bloody pervert, like."

Up to London goes the sinner,
London, stuffed with moral wrecks!
Now 'e knows 'e's on a winner -
'Alf the town is unisex.

Cast your eyes on Master Pretty,
Painted like a circus freak,
Belting out a filthy ditty,
Earning thousands every week.

Fans go mad in every disco!
Leaders in the Daily Mail!
Troops called out in San Francisco!
Even trendy bishops quail.

Every week 'e presses money
On 'is 'ard-up Dad and Mum.
Now their life is beer and 'oney.
Blimey, it's all right for some.

Dad will 'ear no talk of "phoneys",
As 'e spends the ill-earned pelf,
Oft confiding to his cronies,
"Wish I'd tried that lark myself!"

But the girl the boy once fancied
Grieves to let 'er 'ero go,
Weeps to 'ear 'im telling rancid
Stories on the South Bank Show;

Ow she 'ates the late night chatter!
Wogan treats 'im far too nice,
Goggling at 'is Golden Platter
Garnered from the fruits of vice.

'E 'as gone from 'er for ever,
And 'er 'eart is 'ard as frost.
Will she find another? Never
One as rich as she has lost.

See 'er now, 'er nosegay gnawing,
As she weds a lazy git,
Fated to a life of drawing
Supplement'ry Benefit.

She will 'ave a string of kiddies
In a frowzy council flat,
Gossiping with daft old biddies,
And there ain't much joy in that.

It's the same the whole world over,
It's the straights what lose the race
It's the bent what live in clover.
Ain't it all a blind disgrace!


Before the days of television, people were forced to make their own Christmas entertainment, so each member of the family would have their party piece. Comic monologues and recitations, usually in rhyming verse and performed in either cockney or Northern working class accents, were a staple from the days of the music hall. “The Lion and Albert” and “The Green Eye of the Yellow God” are classics of their kind. Probably the most famous performer of these kind of pieces was Stanley Holloway.
By 1984 this is deliberately anachronistic, although since E.S Turner had been writing for “Punch” for some 30 years, he was probably entering into his dotage. Gender-bending pop stars had been a staple of the last 10-15 years, so nothing new there, although these is springboards off the popularity of Boy George and co. I suppose you could argue the piece is about the comic incongruity of musical hall meeting modern pop. It starts off just describing the trend, but the conclusion is a little unexpectedly harsh in its moralising, although these recitations usually finished with some sort of moral.

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