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Al Read
 
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THE GAMBLER
by
Billy Bennett

A gambler born was young Basil
His finances were all of a lather
A wayward boy, but his mother’s joy
And likewise, the son of his father.

Some daring things he’d been known to do
He must have had nerves of iron
One Sunday he marched to Trafalgar Square
And poked his tongue out at a lion.

Yet he always held his head up
Like the scions of noble houses
For the vests he wore were made from the seat
Of his father’s corduroy trousers.

And he might have owed ‘tons of money’
But he owed nobody a penny
For tho’ he ‘touched’ everybody he met
Nobody lent him any.

He took a long walk in the country once
And his thirst nearly gave him fits
So he tossed an old cow for a gallon of milk
And a bull tossed him double or quits.

He’d order the suppers and sparkling wine
And the bill - he’d always ‘foot’ it
Then he’d appear with a cigar in his mouth
‘Cos he’d nowhere else to put it.

So they sent him abroad to get cured of the curse
He reached Mexico on a Monday
If he had got there a day before
He’d have reached Mexico on a Sunday.

But tho’ he drank nothing but paraffin oil
He didn’t improve one iota
While at breakfast he sat in the Hotel de Chat
He gambled the roe of his bloater.

“A thousand it’s hard” he said to a pard
But shouted it once too often
For the waiter had trod on it - coming upstairs
And turned the hard roe to a soft-un.

Down to Tim Finnigan’s shanty
Where the miners gamble their ‘dust’
He went with a thousand pound in gold
And a tin of corned beef - on trust.

In the flickering lights of the oil-lamps
They looked such a murderous crew
There was ‘Leather-faced Dick’, the son of a gun
And his first cousin, “Dirty Dick’ too.

There was ‘Rattle-snake Rube’ - the bandy legged boob
The Horse-thief from over the border
He could shoot a fly’s eye out at 5000 yards
Or make you an ‘angel’ to order.

There were men from the mountains and ‘Dead Man’s Gulch’
Their red shirts and knives you could swear on
There were men with carbuncles and bristling beards
There were ‘Bush’ men - and men with no hair on.

One woman was there among ‘em
And she was as fair as a lily
With hair of that beautiful golden hue
The colour of piccalilli.

She tried to look brave (tho’ she wanted a shave)
And her tears mingled in with her laughter
Her face bore a trace of the ‘night before’
And a touch of the ‘morning after’.

She’d married an airman - so it was said
But their marriage turned out a ‘bubble’
For she’d only been married a month to him
When he suffered with ‘engine trouble’.

And came down a crash - but he left her ‘well-off’
And the way that she gambled was shocking
And once it was hers, there was no ‘getting’ back
For she carried her purse in her stocking.

The ‘play’ ran high - and the way Basil won
His luck it was hard to believe
‘Til one of the gang made him take off his boots
And so - found an ace up his sleeve.

In a moment the place was like hell-fire
Bottles, glasses, flew left and right
With the voice of a woman screaming
Oh, spare him - and serve him right.

The out flashed a dozen revolvers
There were howlings and shoutings and swearings
And when they’d done shooting - he spun round and round
For the poor wretch was full of ‘ball-bearings’.

Then they went through his pockets, the dirty dogs
To see if his money was right
While the poor little woman stood up and sang
“There’s a strange face in Heaven tonight.”

Then they slunk away in the darkness
Like wolves from a feast of blood
With poor Basil’s thousand pounds in gold
But every one was a dud.

And he’s gone where all Members of Parliament go
And bravely the music he’s facing
But he’s gambled his wings and his golden crown
And gone in for chariot racing.

And so ends the life of a Gambler
In this world he had a good innings
And his one consolation while playing his harp
Is they can’t put a tax on his winnings.
 
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