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TORTOISES
by
H. M. Burnaby and Harold Arpthorp (1928)

Now I'm just an or'nery kind o' bloke, contented with my fate,
I lives my life— I does my work each day
A keeper at the Zoo is what I am—I'm proud to state.
And with h'animals I've got a kind o' way.
For sixty year I've worked among 'em—know 'em through and through—
Lions-tigers—camels-all the lot-
Halligators—heagles-'awks and harmadillos too-
Without me this 'ere place 'ud go to pot.
But now, I'm getting on like, and can't move about so fast,
At least, that's what our big committee sez.
They've been an' gone an' given me a job what's safe at last,
A-lookin' after these tortoises.
Now, a tortoise—'e's a hinseck, so they tells me, that may be,
'E's a lazy one, there ain't the slightest doubt.
'E'll live a hundred years or two—or sometimes even three.
So 'e's got time to think 'is problems out.
See that one there? That's 'Erbert—'e will have his little joke,
You should watch him if you've got an hour to spend.
You'd swear that part in front is where his head's agoin' to poke.
And then 'e shoves it out the other end.
There's Bill an 'im runs races—that's excitin' if you like-
You ought to see 'em dashing on their way.
I don't know what ails Bill—I think he must 'a got the spike,
Jim's gained an 'arf an inch since yesterday.
I always think these tortoises has gone an' took their cue
From the government or some concern like that;
Or watched the blokes as mends the roads, an' noticed what they do,
An' tried to beat 'em an' they 'ave that's flat.
That reminds me- it's just time for Kate to take her morning stroll,
I shoves her on a chain—she looks a treat.
It keeps 'em fit—Oh! not but what they're 'ealthy on the whole,
Although at times they drag me orf me feet!
They say a bloke in time gets like the h'animals 'e feeds,
That sort o' cheers me up it does—not 'arf.
Why even now, I feels at times—the limit of my speed's
This 'ere slow motion cinematograph.
Lor! bless us! I'd a letter, when I come to work today-
Well blow me if this don't beat fairy-tales!
The Committee has decided to promote me straight away,
I commence my duties next week... WITH THE SNAILS!

 
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