Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ashley Sterne Sam's Sturgeon

Ashley Sterne wrote a poem called Sam's Sturgeon in 1935 for his friend Stanley Holloway, the celebrated actor, comedian, singer, poet, and monologuist.  The poem became one of Holloway's most requested comic monologues.

Sam's Sturgeon

By Ashley Sterne

Sam Small were fishing in canal
'Twixt Manchester and Sale;
He hadn't had a bite all day
And 'nowt' to sup but ale.

Then all at once his fishing line
Went rushing out like mad;
"By gum," cried Sam, "I've got a bite,"
And so by gum he 'ad.

He tugged and tugged and better tugged,
His line it rose and sank;
Then fish gave one last dying gasp,
And flopped stone dead on t'bank.

Just then a policeman bustled up
On feet both large and flat.
'E looked at Sam, 'e looked at fish
And said, "Eee, who done that ?"

"It's just a sort of fish," said Sam,
"I'm taking home to tea."
"Tha's not," said policeman, "that, tha's not,
It don't belong to thee.

"It's what they call a Sturgeon, Sam,
That fish belongs to King,
So take it up to Palace, lad,
As fast as anything."

Sam stooped and picked the Sturgeon up,
Well knowing who was boss;
Then ran to station where he bought
Two tickets for King's Cross.

When Samuel reached London Town
The crowd all raised a cheering cry;
The traffic parted left and right
To let that Sturgeon by.

The Palace Sentry, haughty like
Said, "What might be your wish ?"
But when he saw what Sam had brought
He cried, "Pass, Royal fish."

Sam knocked at door and servant girl
Said, "Step inside the hall,
The King and Queen is out," says she
"But not to thee, Sam Small."

And so with Sturgeon in his arms
Sam tramped up corridor,
He trailed along some passages
And knocked at parlour door.

"Come in," says King, so Sam
Went in with Royal fish and all.
"Why dash me buttons," cries the King,
"If it isn't old Sam Small."

"That's me," said Sam, "and 'ere's a fish
Our policeman said were thine;
A Sturgeon caught in Ship Canal
With rod and hook and line."

"Well, well," said King, "come sit thee down,
Tha' must be fair done up.
We just were going to have us teas,
Tha'll stay and have a sup ?"

"Thanks, King," said Sam, and takes a seat
With fish upon his knee.
"Nay, put that thing on t'sofa, Sam,"
Says King, "and have thy tea."

"Now what about this fish ?" asks Sam.
But King he whispers low,
"I'm going to tell thee something, Sam,
But don't let policeman know.

"I hate to show ingratitude
And please don't think me mean,
But I never did like Sturgeon, Sam,
Nor, come to that, does Queen.

"To eat the stuff we hate so much
Well, Sam, we find it hard;
So we hand 'em to the Chamberlain
Who stacks them in back yard.

"Just thee look out that window, Sam,
And see where t'Sturgeons go."
Sam looked in t'yard and saw 'em all
In thousands in a row.

"It's champion seeing thee again,
But Sam, twixt me and thee
I cannot stand Sturgeons
But I love a kipper to me tea."

"Now fancy that," says Sam, "by gum,
Why them's my favourite fish."
And then the Queen came smiling in,
With kippers on the dish.

"Do you know Sam Small, my dear ?" says King.
Queen says, "Why yes, yes, yes,
Just touch the Bell and tell our James
To bring more watercress."

"Think on," says King when tea were done
And Sam got up to go,
"Kippers is what I like for tea
But don't let policeman know."

So Sam went home to Lancashire
And said a silent prayer,
With blessings on the kippered fish
"Long live the Royal Pair."

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