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Courtesy of John Mackness, from a printed sheet unattributed
We've Done a Bit Down 'Ere
(Mister Cobbler's Village Tattle)

If Londoners have a fault, it is that they will call Rushden “the village.” Sleeping on this the other night, Mister Cobbler found himself replying with ripe rural elegance to a London visitor’s polite enquiry about village life in war-time. (see also evacuees)

Yes, sir, that's true; we've done a bit down 'ere;

In fact, we've 'ad a middling sort of year.

I 'ardly know what I should tell yer first. . . .

Oh, aye, I will take sommat for me thirst.

Well, now, about this war that's goin on:

Some of our chaps, yer know, 'ave bin and gone

Three 'undred odd, they say, 'ave took the call—

Three 'undred, sir, and sev'ral gals an all !

That ain't so bad, I think, out of our lot,

And I dare bet 'Itler'll catch it 'ot.

They'll p'raps 'ave bits of Ruzdin on their feet,

And won't they bang 'em ard at 'Itler's seat!

We've wardens, too, yer know—a tidy few;

If Jerry comes they'll be in the front pew.

With tin 'ats, rattles, whistles—lot's of kit;

You needn't think no bomb'll make 'em frit.

Old Charlie Clark, 'e's got 'em all in line —

They measured me for this 'ere mask of mine—

And they do say it ain't an idle boast

That there's reviving stuff at ev'n post.

Well, thank yer kindly I'll accept one more,

Though that ain't what I made that comment for.

Now what was I a-saying? Oh, that’s right—

About the wardens bein' in the fight

Hut lumme, that ain't arf our A.R.P

Why, bless you, sir, they even called on me.

Old Marshall Bailey—'ave you 'eard of him?—

Said "You're the very man I'm wanting. Jim.

"You just turn up next Sunday, you can be

"A sort of air-raid casuality."

So up I turned; a reglar crowd was there;

And then they said they'd bombed us from the air,

"You're got a broken skull me boy they said.

And so they tied a bandage round me 'ead.

They 'oist me in a sort of cattle truck

—Marshall, of course, 'ad swep' out all the muck—

And some young gal, she got 'er lipstick out,

And wrote a lot of numbers round me snout.

A lovely gal she were, dressed like a nuss

And all the time she made a proper fuss.

Well, then they dropped me at a 'ospital,

But every inch of that there place was full,

So "Jim, " they said, "you're better now, I think,

"You just nip up the street and 'ave a drink."

Another? Well, me boy, you're very kind;

Bein' a chilly evening, I don't mind.

But we shall 'ave ter draw the line, yer know,

Else Chamberlan'll take us both in tow.

Eh? No, not 'im—I mean the other bloke

Whose men, the Special Cops, keep watch on folk.

'E's stood 'em all a feed, so I'm been told,

So as on winter nights they won't feel cold

And, being wot 'e is in trade, we feel

'E's sure to git the crooks beneath 's 'eel.

'Is coppers creep about the streets at night

To see if anybody shows a light,

But many lights, I’m told, escape their eye,

Because they’ve got no lights to see 'em by.

We've got some fireman, too—the A.F.S.,

Who leave 'ome dry and come back in a mess.

They do their squirting 'long o' Ditchford-lane—

 It's handy there yer see, to catch train,

Which very likely they might want to do

If bombs were falling on 'em from the blue.

And where should I go? Now you've not got me beat,

Because there ain't no shelters in the street,

And 'iding in a trench don't suit my whim,

Because, you see, I never learned to swim.

We ain't got many sandbags round this way,

But our men ain't to blame for that, they say;

They tried to git some—offered, cash on spot—

But 'Igham Ferrers folk 'ad 'ad the lot.

Of course, the womenfolk 'ave done their bit—

Them as can sew, and also them as knit.

Why, man,. they 'ad a duchess come to tea—

Per'aps they'll get a pint o' beer for me!

Another glass? No, that I won't . . . All right,

But mind you, it's the very last ter-night.

'Ere's to yer 'ealth! There's many a Ruzdin lad

Would like to lay 'is 'ands on what I've 'ad,

And Ernie Bennett, so the people say,

Sends out a million cigarettes a day.

On top o' that we're done a bit, yer know,

For them poor folk as come from Walthamstow—

The vacuees, they calls 'em, what come down

Because it weren't too 'ealthy up inTown.

Two thousand, sir, come down with all their kit,

And some, of course wouldn't exactly fit.

Outside King’s Cross say

Some as ad lived on precious little pay:

They 'ad their little ways, beyond a doubt,

As some of our old wimmen soon found out;

And our 'ead man, a bloke they call Maclean,

'Ad to admit they wasn't all too clean.

Our Officer of 'Ealth got busy, though,

With 'is evacuum cleaning kit, and so

After a week or two it all come right,

Except for what the little 'uns did at night.

The mayors of London all come down to see,

And said we were a 'appy family;

But mayors, nor yet the likes of us,

Ain't so persuasive as a Birch's 'bus,

And soon the wimmen went back 'ome again,

So as ter keep an eye on their ol' men.

A lot of kiddies, though, are still down 'ere

And doing very well—you needn't fear;

Their little soles are in the best o' care—

Our boot firms keep 'em all in good repair—

And them as wears their trousers through the seat

Are took in 'and and fixed up very neat.

Per'aps you know the teachers who've come down—

You must 'ave often met 'em in your town;

Dixon an' Taylor—there's a pretty pair!

One near the ground, the tother in the air;

Broodbank and Riddle—'ave you 'eard 'em sing?—

And that there lecturer of yourn, Bob Ling.

Miss Stanshall—'er who throws a pretty dart—

And other ladies, too, 'ave took their part.

. . . . .

Well, sir, I spect you're tired of this 'ere tale,

So ('aving 'eard no more about the ale)

I'll say goodnight and wish yer 'appy days.

'Oping as you'll excuse our villige ways.

Len Elliott was a reporter for the local newspapers, and
often he wrote comments under the nom de plume "Mister Cobbler".

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