G.V. Carter

The yarn I’m goin’ to spin yer is a tale of a terrible night
When two of our brave soldier laddies showed ‘ow English Tommies can fight.
There was me and my old pal Jimmy as was made of the properest stuff
You could stand him four-ale by the hour, sir, yet he never would cry, “Hold, enuff.”

It was just a few words by the parson as put the idea in my ‘ead
For one day in the course of a sermin the follerin’ words he said,
“My lads, many foes are around yer, but one most of all you should think
For the fearfullest foe of old England is that terrible one, Strong Drink.

Now, it never had struck me in that way, and for many and many a year
I’d been kidding myself with the notion that a Tommy’s best friend was his beer.
But I see as the parson was right, sir, and Jim quite agreed with him too
So he vowed that ‘enceforth and for ever, the enemy, Drink, he’d pursue.

Says he, “When and wherever I sees it, no matter to whom it belongs
I’ll be down with my country’s bitterest foe, for the sake of old England’s wrongs.”
And he stuck to his vow like a Briton, for he ‘unted it ‘igh and low
And was often brought home on a stretcher, speechless with fighting the foe.

Now, not more than a mile from our barricks was a brewery going full blast
And always before we had sniffed and smiled, as those beer-brewing works we had passed
But now it worried us proper, and give us the ‘ump to think
There was oceans of ‘enemy’ close at hand, an encampment of dreadful drink.

Poor old Jim, he took on something awful, and at last he was worked up so
That one day he says to me, “Billy, I’m a-goin’ to ‘ave a good go.
I’m a-goin’ to storm that strong’old if it takes me the whole night through
Say, Billy, won’t yer come and join us, I guess it’s a job for two?”

I gripped his ‘and in the darkness, my comrade to true and bold
And then we sets out on our venture, like them Red Cross knights of old
We soon broke a brewery window, and ‘ere we then clambered in
Jim says, “Now, no quarter, my laddie, and may the best fightin’ man win.”

What followed is jist like a dream, sir, jist to think of it makes my head ache
There was millions of ‘arf pints of liquor layin’ there in a kind of a lake.
Poor old Jim turned off faint for a minute. And said as we trembled with joy
“Someone’s killed me, and now I’m in ‘eaven; ‘ow I wish I ‘ad died as a boy.’

But he jolly soon came to his senses and went into the lake at a run
And stood up to his neck in the ‘enemy’. The terrible fight had begun.
For some hours we got on quite splendid, it was easy as piling up bricks
But then the foe got a bit saucy and started a-playin’ us tricks.

Once when we got out for a breather (we was pretty well done, you can lay)
We couldn’t resoom for a long while, ‘cos the beer-pond ‘ad ‘opped it away
Now and then we both fair missed our footin’s and was pretty well drownded outright
For when such a foe is against yer, you’re too ‘tired’ to make much of a fight.

At last Jim he sounded the ‘Cease-Fire’ and we tried to form up into fours
When sudden we hears a big shoutin’ and bangin’ and rattlin’ of doors
What follows I can’t quite remember, but one memory’s ‘aunting me still
Jim trying to kiss a policeman, and me bein’ ‘orrible ill.

By the Beak we was tried the next mornin’, for ‘aving broke out on the loose
And he gives us three months of the ‘ardest, and wouldn’t hear any excuse
And that’s what they calls English justice, when you’re trying your best to do good
And it shows how the very best ‘earted is occasional misunderstood.

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