Thursday, August 21, 2008

Three Ha'pence a Foot

It's not quite raining yet. There is an inevitability about an imminent downpour though; the sky is of drearest grey. Should you wish to emulate these summer skies at home I'm thinking Pantone 423C or some optimistically named Dulux colour - Moorland Mist perhaps - though I think 'Depths of Despond' sums it up better.)

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,
'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.'
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.


Twiglet said...

No comments yet? Guess everyone is feeling as gloomy as the weather.
Hey - its 7pm and the evening sun is glorious up over Corndon so maybe tomorrow will be fine - ever the optimist!

Irene said...

I think in a short enough time, many citizens of the Netherlands will be building their own Arks of Noah, the way it has been raining here. We are above sea level here, so we are safe, but those poor people in the west and by the rivers...?

I will take many kindly animals up on my safe hill. Even the mountain lion that is supposed to roam somewhere in a natural refuge in the middle of the country. I am sure he won't bite much.

I won't take any fleas and ticks and spare my cats and dog. Friendly spiders are welcome and so are honey bees.

Anil P said...

An eternal optimist, this Sam :)

The monsoons make one an optimist as I've found out this rainy season in Bombay, that is if you can call 'waiting' optimism.

KittyB said...

Love the poem/story, we have a few of those books - Albert and the Lion, one about Hentry VIII, a couple more, I loved them when I was little though didn't understand a word. Must be the illustrations.
This miserable weather is prompting me to paint the sitting room in Craig & Rose's 1829 collection 'Persian Rose' in the hope that the colour will make everything seem all cosy and warm. Some hope.

Cait O'Connor said...

Yes M I am always saying we should have a boat ready here with the amount of water coming down and the river level rising so much (unusual for summer). I love your paint shade names!
We saw the sun yesterday afternoon and evening and it's still here as I write, fingers crossed!

LittleBrownDog said...

Yes, I remember Stanley holloway and Albert and the Lion well - as you say, more of a curiousity then, but now they're quite amusing.

Anyway, the sun's up over Wiltshire. It can't be long before it's creeping over the border into Wales (or does the weather work t'other way round?)

Rachel said...

It's just the same in Newcastle upon Tyne, and very cold too. But cheer up - you could be in Stornoway, where a fine drizzle is considered a grand day.

Nikki-ann said...

LOL. It's not often I come across people mentioning Pantone colours outside work!

I'm hoping the weather cheers up a bit, else I'll have to pack wellies for my 2 days up North (Wales)!

Ragged Roses said...

There's a paint colour called "Blackened" and that definitely sums up the weather today (and last week, and the week before ...) Wouldn't it be lovely to be able to take blue skies for granted for a while

Pondside said...

Go for it Mountainear - paint everything that wonderful Greek blue, white and lemon yellow and banish the blahs.
I remember Stanley Holloway - used to see him on the late movies on TV when I was up in the middle of the night with babies - seems long ago! I've just had another catch up and see that you've also been busy preserving - woman of many talents!!

elizabethm said...

We had a couple of hours of bright blue skies this morning, not sure where that came from! back to grey this afternoon though.

Milkmaid said...

I love Albert and the lion, will give this a whirl, just back from weekend in Lancs, another cow weekend. Love the Lancastrian accent, so earthy

Fennie said...

Oh lovely! I know Albert and the Lion and this seems out of the same stable. Just the sort of thing to have up your sleeve when it is grey and raining and there is really nothing else to do but provide home grown entertainment.

It's not the rain I mind so much it's this perpetual greyness. It kills the spirit; not so much SAD as positively looking for a tree and some rope! Oh how I could use a trip to Barcelona! Just for the light.