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THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER by Billy Bennett (Almost a Gentleman) 1887 - 1942

You ask about these wrinkles,

These wrinkles I have on my pow,

If you'll give me your kind applause, sir,

For an encore I'll tell you right now.

My job is a lighthouse keeper,

Out there on the Goodwin Sands;

My plimsolls are taking in water,

So I have to walk out on my hands.

The lighthouse was too near the gasworks-

We got in the way somehow

So one day they had an explosion

And blew us to where we are now.

I could tell you some tales of my daring,

And the toll of the lighthouse bell,

And the tale of the Christmas pudding-

And some drawing-room stories as well!

It's lonely sometimes in the lighthouse,

While the seagulls fly over the blue;

No wonder I take to the seagulls-

I take Mother Seigels, too.

I have one or two little hobbies,

A little excitement to raise;

I often shake hands with an octopus,

And that takes a couple of days.

From the whale I get oil for my lamp, sir;

With the sharks I play cards for drinks;

The jelly fish ping me jellied eels;

With the tiddlers I play tiddly winks.

I have lots of fun with some swordfish-

They're muzzled in case they should bite;

I lay them crossways on the table

And do a sword dance every night.

But all is not gold that glitters-

Like the sea, once, I turned raging wild:

I had only been married a fortnight

When I lost my wife and child.

They were taken from me by a scoundrel,

He came like a thief in the night;

I was feeding the goldfish with pudding

And he threatened to put out my light.

To think that he'd pinched my missus,

The dirty dog I could have lynched;

I'd pinched her myself, so you see, sir,

'Twas the second time she had been pinched

He wrote me a postcard to tell me-

"I'm coming on Monday," he said.

I said: "I'll be out on Tuesday,

So make it Wednesday instead."

He sent me a wire on Thursday

To say Friday would be alright.

I said: "I'll be busy on Saturday,"

So he called for her Sunday night.

He stood at the foot of the ladder-

I stood with my wife on the top,

And just as I handed her down to him

The fat-headed fool let her drop.

She asked for. a drink to revive her-

A small double Scotch with a dash;

I drank the whisky myself, sir,

While she was wet through with the splash.

I said: "You can't take her like that, no,

The poor girl is soaking wet through;

I'll dry her inside the oven-

It's the least that a husband can do.

"Are you taking the child as well, sir?

You can't leave the orphan here.

Just think when it cries for its mammy

And there's no refreshment bar near.

"If you don't care to take the child with you,

For a while you can leave little Bess;

I can send her by Carter Paterson

If you like to leave next week's address.

Off he went, then ran back in a hurry,

'Twas raining outside-he was damp;

He not only borrowed my missus,

But the dirty dog borrowed my gamp!

Then he daubed some black paint on my door sir,

And as they tramped away in the rain

I looked at the black paint and shouted

"Never darken my door again."

Then I changed the white lamp in the light house,

O'er the waves the lights started to dance;

Then I put a red lamp in the tower-

The red lamp I'd pought over from France

Three years are supposed to elapse, sir,

Since the night she eloped with that swell;

She went off with my papier mache' collar

And my froth-blower cuff links as well.

My child's voice came o'er the ocean

As I tried to pierce the gloom;

I could see the poor child hold her hand up-

She wanted to leave the-boat.

I was lonelier now than ever,

But my sorrow I pavely met;

I hung up a card in the window:

"A little combined room to let.."

Fifteen years are supposed to elapse, sir,

The scene is changed somewhat;

The tide has been in and been out

Yes, it has been in and out quite a lot.

A terrible storm was raging,

The lightning was playing, too

If I'm right, I think it was playing

"Am I wasting my time on you?"

Came a ghostly knock at the knocker-

The knocker was knocked, I could tell;

They had to knock at the knocker

'Cause the kids had pinched the bell!

I jumped up with a ghastly shudder

And I put my earphones away;

A ghostly voice cried through the keyhole:

"D'ye want your steps cleaning to-day?"

The lighthouse shook like a jelly;

I shouted out over the "blitz":

"Don't mess about with old England,

Leave the damn thing where it is.

Then my wife appeared like a spectre.

Did I expect her? Not I

Her knees were beginning to wobble-

She'd walked all the way from Shanghai.

She threw her arms round the lighthouse,

Then threw me a look of despair;

As she held her hand out to me she cried:

"Matches, sir, penny a pair!"

She shouted: "Jim, won't you forgive me, Jack?

My mother's been sick with the 'flu,

But I'm thankful to say she hasn't got it now

'Cos I've pought it back home to you!"

Forty years are supposed to elapse, sir,

My baby girl's grown to a man,

And we'll finish up just where we started,

For we started just where we began.

There's a moral to this little story,

And morals are scarce, you'll agree;

I'll make you a present of this one

In fact, you can have it with me.


exit