THE GLADIATOR
 
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Hail, Oh hail, of three or four, I'll tell you a tale
Of a maiden fair that I met there
She said, 'Hail O Caeser, comest thou from Rome?'
I said, 'Nay, the Citadel of Balham is my home.'
And then she spake, and this is what she spake
She said to me, 'I'm Cleopatra.' I said, 'Well, here, looking at yer
My name's Zambuk.' She said, 'Here's luck,
There must have been a bottle and a couple of bananas.'
Then she threw her arms around me, started kissing me
I said, 'Round me don't try to weedle, or Cleopat I shall get the needle
If Gandma played snakes and ladders with your Grandad
Don't try it on on me.'

Spoken - 'Verily, oh noble Nero, that was an excellent rejoinder.'
'Yea, and that I did.' 'Did what?' 'Rejoin her.'
'Is it true she had a merry sparkle in her eye?'
'Yea, a sparkle that seemed to say, Wilt?'
'And didst?' 'Yea, with alacrity.'
Then there fell upon mine ear from across the harbour bar
A tinkling of glasses, at which Cleopatra said unto me
'Caesar, hast thou the wherewithall to wet the whistle?'
And I said, 'Yea,' At which she expressed much surprise
For she had noted that the trousers I was without
'And why were you without?' 'Because I had none to be within.'
The day of Melabecilia was yet to come.'
'And what of Claudius, was he not at the Coleseum?'
'Nay, he refused to work a matinee.
So I had him thrown to the lions, at the Corner House.'
'Was he happy as Claudius?' 'No, he was as miserable as blazes.'
'But what of the ladies?' 'That I shall tell thee in verse.'

Hail, Oh hail, there appeared next day in the local jail
A man so meek before the beak
He said, 'Art thou stolid?' I said, 'Yea, and some.'
He said, 'Tell the Court the why, the when, the howst thou come.'
And then I spake, and this is what I spake
She said to me, 'I'm Cleopatra.' I said, 'Well, here, looking at yer
My name's Zambuk.' She said, 'Here's luck,
There must have been a bottle and a couple of bananas.'
Then she stole my part and left me shivering and far from home
And if you'd wandered round the drafty houses
On a November night without any trousers
You'd say, 'Ye Gods, it's a darn good job
Nero Burnt Rome, Good Night, Claudius.

 
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Written, composed and performed by Billy Merson (1881-1947)
 
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