THE SCENE SHIFTER
 
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When you see actors on the stage you never give a thought
To the scene shifters and men who work the lime.
Now I'm a scene-shifter be trade, an' a beer-shifter be birth,
An' I've done a lot of shiftin' in me time.
But begin about shiftin' scenes, when I got home last night
In our little sittin' room I chanced to go.
The wife sat on the sofa with the lodger hand in hand;
I took off me coat an' said: 'Well I dunno,

But I think I'd better shift this scene. I think I'd better shift this scene.
And so I did, I sold the couch and spoke crossly to the wife;
But let me tell you of the proudest moment of my life,
His Majesty the King came round one night behind the stage
And when he'd introduced me to the Queen,
He said: 'Come Joe and wine with us'
I said: 'No George I can't old man.
I've got to stop and shift this scene.'

Now I don't suppose you knew that I was once with Martin Harvey
And I don't suppose you care much now you know.
Well anyway it is so, and one night I sha'n't forget,
Our stage manager came up and he said: 'Joe.'
He called me Joe because that is my name, so 'e said 'Joe,',
Mind they called me other names, but 'Joe' he cried.
Oh I should have told you Martin's on the stage, and so 'e said:
'Joe, when Mr Harvey comes off at this side,

I want you just to shift this scene. I want you just to shift this scene.'
So I said: 'All right Guv'nor' an' I stood there at the side,
When Martin Harvey pointed at me from the stage and cried:
'Aha! A knave is lurkin' there at yonder cattle gate.
Methinks 'twere best that I should intervene.
Our good Queen's life the ruffian seeks.'
I said: 'Don't you tell lies. I'm only waitin' 'ere to shift this scene.'

Last Christmas at the Theatre Royal they ran a pantomime.
When I say it ran that's rather overdone.
It didn't run, it only walked, and very slow at that,
So they took it off because it wouldn't run.
My missus went to stretch 'er and I went to shift the scene
And be generally useful for a quid.
The chorus girls were great, and if the wife had not been there,
I'd have had a better time than what I did.

But I think I'd better shift this scene. I think I'd better shift this scene.
Those girls would flock around me. oh I had a lovely time,
I felt just like a Rajah in a far off Eastern clime
They'd say: 'Joe, come in the dressin' room and have a drink with us.'
And to take it on, mind, I felt very keen.
But when I thought of Adam and the apple and my missus
I said: 'No I'd better shift this scene.'

 
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Written, composed and performed by Frank Leo (d. 1940)
From monologues.co.uk Music Hall Lyrics Collection
 
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