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THE CHIMNEY FIRE
by
Ernie Shankster

Long, long ago in the distant past,
When two and a half pence was half-a-crown,
On a cold November morning,
The Station bells went down

"Chimney fire... No 10, Beecham Street."
The watchroom man said, with a grin.
And we all groaned a groan, for it's very well known
With the chimneys down there, you can't win.

Well, I leaped up on the old 'Dennis',
With Charlie, the driver and Jack;
In charge was Sub Officer Temple;
We called him Shirley... (behind his back )

Old Shirley shook his head as he sadly said,
"That Beecham Street's bad news;
You can work all night, but try as you might,
You just can't get the rods up those flues."

"So it's up the ladder with the hosereel, lads.
Shove it down the old chimney pot.
With a little bit of pressure, we'll soon have it's meaure;
But don' t overdo it... not a lot ".

So there's Jack and me, up the ladder on the roof,
With the hosereel down the pot;
There was Charlie on the pump, And I'm sure he had the hump,
'Cause he did overdo it... Quite a lot.

Then Jack and me made the cardinal error;
The one that all Firemen dread.
The hosereel down the wrong chimney;
Should have gone down next door's instead.

So from Charlie we had too much water,
From the chimney, an absence of steam;
At the dawning of doubt, from below came a shout,
And a heart rending, anguished scream.

"Oh! what have you done to my 'usband,
Just look at my poor old man.
From 'is 'ead to 'is foot, 'e's all covered in soot.
Someone 'elp me... as quick as you can."

"Get yer arses down 'ere!" bellowed Shirley;
Me and Jack, we swiftly complied.
"The wrong bloody pot? Well, I'll tell you what;
You done it... you sort it... inside!!!"

He was angry, you see, understandably,
So me and Jack knocked on the door.
It was flung open wide, and there, just inside,
Mrs.Dale, her two daughters, 'n' what's more,

Soot, there was! There was clouds of it,
Drifting all over the place;
From ceiling to floor, you couldn't see more,
Than your hand in front of your face.

Well, we groped our way through the darkness,
Every window we flung open wide;
And the first thing we saw, was a coffin on the floor;
With Mrs Dale' s husband inside.

Well, you couldn't actually see him;
He was shrouded in soot, so to speak;
Mrs. Dale grimly said, "You can start with ' is 'ead.
You'll clean 'im up, if it takes you all week.

Just then our Sub Officer entered,
And he gazed at the carnage,dismayed.
He snarled at Jack, "Get a message back;
Difficult chimney---- delayed."

Well, we all set to with a dustpan and brush,
And a hoover we managed to borrow.
Charlie said, with a grin, dumping soot in the bin,
"At this rate we'll be here ' till tomorrow."

Now Shirley was stood by the coffin
Brushing soot off Mr. Dale's face,
When he leaped back in dread, and he said, "He's not dead!"
But we all had a poke, just in case.

Whereupon he sat up in his coffin,
Alive, we all had to agree,
When he cheerfully said, shaking soot off his head.
"Let's all have a nice cup of tea!"

"Oh! thank you, thank you Firemen."
The happy ex widow said.
"I'm no longer distraught, now you 'ave brought
My old man back from the dead."

Then we all sat down round the coffin,
And we all had a nice cup of tea.
The soot was still there, but we didn't care,
We were happy as happy could be.

Well, there's your happy ending;
Not true, of course... instead,
She sued the Brigade, compensation was paid,
And her old man, rest his soul... he stayed dead

EPILOGUE
There's a moral to this story,
Me and Jack, wer'e living proof,
If your chimney aint steaming,
And you hear anguished screaming...
Stay up on the bleeding roof.

 
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