I'm thinking of suggesting to Alan - who has something of the look of Noah about him - that the hen house currently under construction could easily be converted to an Ark. The framework clamped together in the garage right now has the look of a wheelhouse and I'm sure with a bit of additional planking we could come up with a neat clinker-built vessel that's just the thing for when the floods come lapping at the bottom of the lane. I've started a bit of a list about what and whom to include on a prospective voyage - slugs, snails, wasps and grey squirrels are not on my manifest.
While looking for the brighter side to this miserable summer I came across 'Three Ha'pence a Foot', one of Marriot Edgar's Lancastrian monologues immortalised by actor and entertainer Stanley Holloway way back in 1932. (The delightful illustration above of Noah and Sam is by John Hassell.) I remember my father reciting it to us - along with 'Albert and the Lion' - when we were children. I'm not sure we found it particularly comical even then - more of a curiousity - but the young Martin, his brothers Leo and Peter and sister June growing up in the 1930's obviously found it a real hoot. How they laughed. It's a period piece and has a certain charm.
Anyway it lasts just over 4 minutes - if you have nothing better to do on a rainy day, listen to the stubborn Sam refuse to sell Noah a piece of Bird's Eye Maple to panel the side of his bunk at any less than the going rate of three ha'pence a foot. The waters have risen and Noah drifts over the top of Blackpool Tower where Sam has taken refuge....
Noah cruised around, flying 'is pigeons,Anyway I'm off to look at some colour swatches - just looking at something the blue of the Mediterranean off Paxos will cheer me up no end. Pantone 313 I think.
'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.
Noah said: 'Now what's the price of yer Maple?'
Sam answered: 'Three ha'pence a foot.'
Said Noah: 'Ye'd hest take my offer;
It's last time I'll he hereabout;
And if water comes half an inch higher,
I'll happen get Maple for nought.'
'Three ha'pence a foot it'll cost yer,
And as fer me,' Sam said, 'don't fret.
The sky's took a turn since this morning;
I think it'll brighten up yet.'