Col Gray
In the eighteenth year of our Albert,
A letter arrived at the door
Addressed to young 'Mr Ramsbottom',
As you've heard of often before.

Mother knew it were coming and worried
As she heard the bad news for her lad,
For his country needed young Albert,
For National Service... how sad!

Young Albert he looked quite elated;
And he dreamed about serving the queen
But father said, cuttin' as ever
"They'd not want him if they knew where he'd been!"

The letter called Albert t'next Friday
To report to a room near t' Town Hall,
Where he would be medically examined;
And have his brains tested an' all.

He went the next Friday, well dusted,
In his Sunday best suit, quite a toff.
But to his surprise he were ordered
To take all but his underpants off.

They prodded him in t' chest and stomach,
And wi' a stetheoscope listened a bit;
Then he moved on from the doctor to t' nurse
Who ploughed through his hair for a nit.

He wasn't on his own in t'palaver
There were lads as he'd known back in school
But when t'doctor joked as he looked in his ears,
"I can see t'other side!"... It were cruel.

Then after they'd looked at his eyes, nose and mouth
Then waited a bit of a time
They lined up ten fellers and Albert were one
In a neat and immaculate line.

Then down the long row came a doctor,
And Albert just wanted to die
As he stopped there in front of Albert and said
"Drop your underpants lad, don't be shy!"

Well Albert did what were requested
And to his superlative surprise
The doctor grabbed hold of young Albert
To check his equipment for size.

"Cough!" said the doctor to Albert
Who wi't shock coughed a gigantic big'un;
And they all had a laugh as doc's toupee took off
For a flight in t'direction of Wigan.

After this they all sat in a classroom
With all their clothes on by request,
And were set to do papers wi' sums on
Joined up writing and all of the rest.

He passed this A.1. and got called up
To be present at Catterick Camp,
Where he'd undergo his basic training
In a barracks all musty and damp.

The sergeant in charge there were shockin',
He swore and he cussed loud and long,
And often suggested that these lads
Had not known their fathers for long.

Now Albert were given a uniform,
It were that rough it itched all his skin,
And while t' jacket seemed made for a much bigger lad,
The trousers were short, tight and thin.

At first Albert got on quite gradely,
But soon he made Sergeant bereft,
For when it came round to some marchin'
He didn't know right foot from t'left.

"By the left! " bawled the sergeant quite fiercely.
'Right, left!', marched young Albert alone:
And sergeant not only cursed Albert
But his mother, his dad and his home.

All his mates worked quite hard with our hero
They called out "Now Albert, LEFT, RIGHT!"
But Albert persisted in going right left,
Though they worked him in shifts through the night.

Despair filled the air the next morning
As on the parade the squad stood,
Though they'd worked hard wi' Albert the whole of the night
It hadn't done ha'porth o'good.

"BY the left, on my command..." bawled the sergeant.
"Best foot forward", whispered Albert's best friend.
"...MARCH." shouted t' sergeant and Albert
Set off left, right; left right to the end.

"Now then, now then !" beamed the sergeant,
"Whoever's got Albert through t'test?"
"It were Tom when he said "Best foot forward"
'Cos I knew just which foot were the best."

So on each march the lad nearest Albert
Muttered, "Best foot forward!", again.
And Albert passed all tests that were set him,
Till the final passing out came.

At the final parade the old sergeant,
Who'd grown quite fond of Albert, the lad
Decided on a special momento
To recall the hard times that they'd had.

They were all lined up on t' parade ground
When t' sergeant bawled to Albert and t'rest
"Best foot forward, quick march!" Albert set off
Left right... but the rest went right, left!
The end