NED MASKELL'S FRIEND
performed by
Bernard Miles

I went down to the Rose and Crown last night. They got me on tellin' 'em about old Ned Maskell's ferret what he used to keep down inside 'is shirt. 'E reckoned she was the best friend 'e ever 'ad.

Course 'e never did get on with 'is old gal y'know. They was like cat and dog. Waal she used to nag the life out of 'im. She 'ad one o' them tongues what's hanged in the middle and wags at both ends. Till one night he'd been across at Long Mars'on a-rabbitin' an' 'e never got back till about 'arf-past-two in the morning, an' o' course by that time 'is old gal was fast asleep.

So 'e 'ops in'o bed alongside 'er an' it wasn't along afore 'e was fast asleep too. But 'e forgot to take the ferret out of 'is shirt y'see, an' about ten minutes ar'erwards 'at gets out into the bed an' starts 'avin' a look round, explorin' like. Eventually it runs up 'is old gals' nightgown an' nips 'er be'ind. O' course 'at woke 'er up. So she turns round and she fetches old Ned such a clout round 'is ear'ole. "'At's enough o' that," she says. "I'm not 'avin' that," she says. "Not at my time o' life," she says. "A year or two back I might not ha' minded," she says, "but I'm not 'avin' it now." Well she'd 'ardly got the words out of 'er mouth when th'old ferret give 'er another nip. Course as soon as she knowed what it was she give a squawk an' she jumped out o' bed as if that 'ad been on fire.

Old Ned an' 'is ferret 'ad the bed to theirselves after that. 'E reckoned she was the best friend 'e ever 'ad. Waal 'is old gal used to nag the life out of 'im, morning' noon an' night. 'E says to me one time, 'e says: "She makes me that wild," 'e says, "I feel I could cut 'er in two." I says: "Aar," I says, "that ought to cure 'er all right," I says, "only be careful which 'arf you throw away," I says. 'E 'ad to larf. Haa!

'E was apprenticed to be a tailor when 'e was a lad y'know. Long agone Mr 'Otchkiss, across at Cheddington. Aar an' 'e done very well at it too … till 'e got the sack. Well Mr 'Otchkiss put 'im on to make a pair o' trousers for old Mr Buckmaster. An' 'e made a beautiful pair o' trousers. You never seed a finer pair o' trousers. On'y trouble was 'e put the flies at the back. Old Mr 'Otchkiss wasn't arf wild with 'im. 'E says: "Mr Buckmaster may be a very very clever man." 'e says, "but I bet 'e ain't as clever as that." Ha ha! Aaar.

Old Jack was out again last week y'know, 'elpin' me wi' my diggin'. I never seed a robin like 'im. Ev'ry time I turns up a worm 'e's on 'im, like that. 'E 'ad seventeen worms one morning. I thought 'e was gonna bust 'isself, but 'e just sat up on the wall and singed at me. One of 'em pulled 'im right over when 'e got 'old of it, but 'e lugged it out all right. Ha ha. I never seed a robin like 'im. Then 'e never come for about four days. I reckon 'e must a-been a-courtin'. I says to 'im: "Jack," I says, "if you ain't a bit more regular," I says, "I shall 'ave to give you your cards," I says. But 'e just sat up on the wall and singed at me. I never seed a robin like 'im. I'm goin' to sing to yer now.

As I was a-drivin' my wagon one day,
I met a young maiden so buxom an' gay.
I says to her: "Sweetheart would you like a ride?"
And this buxom young maiden got up by my si-ide,

And Dobbin and Daisy looked round for to see
With a riddle-me riddle-me riddle-me ree.
I put my arms roun' her and kissed 'er brown 'air
An' I felt 'er 'eart beat like a bird in the snare.

Then it seemed like my 'orses was right off the ground
And the wheels they stood still an' the wagon went rou-ound
And Dobbin and Daisy looked round for to see
With a riddle-me riddle-me riddle-me riddle-me
Riddle-me riddle-me riddle-me ree.
The end