Three Ha'pence a Foot

Marriott Edgar wrote a large number of monologues for Stanley Holloway including the famous "Albert" series. Here Tony gives us a Bible story in Three Ha'pence a Foot.

I'll tell you an old-fashioned story
That Grandfather used to relate
Of a joiner and building contractor
'Is name, it were Sam Oglethwaite.

In a shop on the banks of the Irwell
Old Sam used to follow 'is trade,
In a place you'll have 'eard of, called Bury
You know, where black puddings is made.

Well one day, Sam were filling a knothole
Wi' putty, when in through the door
Come an old chap fair wreathed in whiskers
T'old chap said, Good morning, I'm Noah.

Well, Sam asked Noah what was 'is business,
And t'old chap went on to remark
That not liking the look of the weather
'E were thinking of building an Ark.

Well, 'e'd gotten the wood for t' bulwarks,
And all t'other shipbuilding junk
And wanted some nice bird's eye maple
To panel the sides of 'is bunk.

Now maple were Sam's monopoly
That means 't'were all 'is to cut
Nobody else 'adn't got none
So 'e asked Noah three ha'pence a foot.

Ha'penny too much, replied Noah
Penny a foot's more the mark;
Penny a foot, and when rain comes
I'll give you a ride in my Ark.

But neither would budge in t'bargain
The whole daft thing seemed kind of a jam
So Sam stuck 'is tongue out at Noah
And Noah made 'long bacon' at Sam.

In wrath and ill-feeling they parted
Not knowing when they'd meet again
And Sam, 'e'd forgot all about it
'Til one day it started to rain.

Well, it rained and it rained for a fortnight
It flooded the 'ole countryside
It rained and it kep' on raining
'Til the Irwell were fifty miles wide.

Well, the 'ouses were soon under water
Folks to the roof 'ad to climb
They said 'twas the rottenest summer
That Bury 'ad 'ad for some time.

Well the rain showed no sign of abating
And the water rose hour by hour,
'Til the only dry land were at Blackpool,
And that were on top of the Tower.

So Sam started swimming to Blackpool;
It took 'im best part of a week.
'Is clothes were wet through when 'e got there
And 'is boots were beginning to leak.

Well 'e stood to 'is watch-chain in t'water,
On Tower top, just before dark
When who should come sailing towards 'im
But old Noah, steering 'is Ark.

They glared at each other in silence,
'Til Ark were alongside, all but
And Noah said: What price your maple?
Sam answered, Three ha'pence a foot.

Noah said, Nay, I'll make thee an offer
Same as I did t'other day
Penny a foot and a free ride
Now come on lad, what does tha say?

Three ha'pence a foot, came the answer
So Noah 'is sail 'ad to hoist
And he steered off again in a dudgeon
While Sam stood determined, but moist.

Noah sailed around, flying 'is pigeons
'Til fortieth day of the wet
And on 'is way back, passing Blackpool
'E saw old Sam standing there yet.

'Is chin just stuck out of the water
A comical figure 'e cut
And Noah said, Now what price your Maple?
Sam answered, Three ha'pence a foot.

Noah said. Nay tha'd best take my offer
It's last time I'll be hereabout
And if water comes half an inch higher
I'll happen get maple for nowt.

Three ha'pence a foot it'll cost you,
And as for me, Sam said, don't fret
Sky's took a turn since this morning
I think it'll brighten up yet.

Nay lad, thou art wrong, said Noah
It'll rain a lot more, I'll be bound
Come on lad, sell us your maple
Bugger off, said Sam, and then drowned.

© Golden Hind Music