THE CLOSE SHAVE
by
Walter Stanford
The colour of his trousers was an undecided buff 
Their substance was a corduroy, hard-wearing, solid stuff 
His boots were armour-plated and his shirt of flannel check 
And he wore a spotted scarf around his 28-inch neck 

But all about his face and chin where whiskers should have been 
A barber's scythe had romped around and left him blue and clean. 
'Twas his peculiarity - his face was always bare 
With not the least suspicion of a bristle anywhere. 

And muchly did I marvel, and so, making up my mind 
I said to him, "Excuse me, Sir, but would you be so kind, 
as to inform me, why at evening , night, or noon or morn, 
you always look as though your visage had been freshly shorn?"

At this, he filled his pipe up with some fearful looking tack 
And lit it with a match, struck on his trousers, at the back. 
Then answered, "Gov, you bet your shirt, as long as I shall live 
No one shall ever see no hair a-growing on my chiv. 

It ain't as I'm afraid 'twould give advantage to the wife 
It's simply this, a beard I had, once near cost me my life. 
By profession, I'm a navvy, and in 1899 
I got a job sand-papering the Hull and Barnsley Line. 

I was working single-handed and the work to me was new 
And the sidings and the junctions took a lot of time to do, 
'Twas ticklish work, the junctions, for 'twas late in July 
With every other minute 'scursion trains a-coming by.

Well, one day I was standing where a branch line branches off 
'Twas noontide, and I'd just knocked off a bit of grub to scoff. 
And as I turned away to go and get my humble meal 
I accidental stepped upon a piece of orange peel! 

Bash! went my chin down on the rails, the jar shook all my joints 
And at that very instant, Gov... the pointsman closed the points! 
I felt my whiskers gripped an you can bet your life I yelled 
and tried to tug 'em loose, but firm as wire ropes they held 

My knife, I thought, I'll cut 'em off... imagine my despair 
I felt in all my pockets, but... Godstruth! it wasn't there 
And then I thought, I'll singe 'em through but shaking so with fright 
I struck a box almost afore I got a match to light.

And then it was too late, there comes a rattle and a roar 
The up-express sweeps down on me at 90 miles an hour 
I hold my head back, Gang - clang - bang a whirl of wheels I see 
Then, fall right over backwards, with my whiskers gone... 

but free! I hadnĀ¹t took no harm 'cept here and there a scratch or chafe 
But I see, plain as eggs, as wearing whiskers wasn't safe. 
That night, I had the remnants of 'em mowed from off my cheek 
And since I've always had my dial scraped twenty times a week 

It comes a bit expensive, but as I say to the wife 
'It's a case of life or whiskers and the choice, well, gimme life.' 
For you wouldn't think it nice, if some fine day someone you heard 
A-saying, 'She's a widder'... cause her old man had a beard."


The end