’Arry at a Political Picnic

’Arry at a Political Picnic
By T Milliken in Punch, 11 Oct..


’Ow are yer, my ribstone? Seems scrumtious to write the old name.
I ’ave quite lost the ran of you lately. Bin playing some dark little game? 1 sight
I’m keeping mine hup as per usual, fust in the pick of the fun,
For wherever there’s larks on the tappy there’s ’Arry as sure as a gun.


The latest new lay’s Demonstrations. You’ve heard on ’em, Charlie, no doubt,
For they’re at ’em all over the shop. I ’ave ’ad a rare bustle about.
All my Saturday arfs are devoted to Politics. Fancy, old chump,
Me doing the sawdusty reglar, and follering swells on the stump! 2 nonsense


But, bless yer, my bloater, it isn’t all chin-music, votes, and ‘Ear! ’ear!’ 3 talking
Or they wouldn’t catch me on the ready, or nail me for ninepence. No fear!
Percessions I’ve got a bit tired of, hoof-padding and scrouging’s dry rot, 4 walking
But Political Picnics mean sugar to them as is fly to wot’s wot.


Went to one on ’em yesterday, Charlie; a reglar old up and down lark.
The Pallis free gratis, mixed up with a old country fair in a park,
And Rosherville Gardens chucked in, with a dash of the Bean Feast will do,
To give you some little idear of our day with Sir Jinks Bottleblue.


Make much of us, Charlie? Lor bless you, we might ha’ bin blooming Chinese
A-doing the rounds at the ’Ealthries. ’Twas regular go as you please.
Lawn-tennis, quoits, cricket, and dancing for them as must be on the shove,

But I preferred pecking and prowling, and spotting the mugs making love.


Don’t ketch me a-slinging my legs about arter a beast of a ball
At ninety degrees in the shade or so, Charlie, old chap, not at all.
Athletics ’aint ’ardly my form, and a cutaway coat and tight bags
Are the species of togs for yours truly, and lick your loose ‘flannels’ to rags.


So I let them as liked do a swelter; I sorntered about on the snap.
Rum game this yer Politics, Charlie, seems arf talkee-talkee and trap.
Jest fancy old Bluebottle letting the ‘multitood’ pic-nic and lark,
And make Battersea Park of his pleasure-grounds, Bathelmy Fair of his park!


‘To show his true love for the People!’ sezs one vote-of-thanking tall-talker,
And wosn’t it rude of a bloke as wos munching a bun to cry ‘Walker!’
I’m Tory right down to my boots, at a price, and I bellered “‘Ear, ear!’
But they don’t cop yours truly with chaff none the more, my dear Charlie, no fear!”


Old Bottleblue tipped me his flipper, and ’oped I’d ‘refreshed,’ and all that. 10 shook hands
‘Wy rather,’ sez I, ‘wot do you think ?’ at which he stared into his ’at,
And went a bit red in the gills. Must ha’ thought me a muggins, old man, 11 face; fool
To ask sech a question of ’Arry—as though grabbing short was his plan.


I went the rounds proper, I tell yer; ’twas like the free run of a Bar,
And Politics wants lots o’ wetting. Don’t ketch me perched up on a car,
Or ’olding a flag-pole no more. No, percessions, dear boy, ain’t my fad,
But Political Picnics with fireworks, and plenty of swiz ain’t ’arf bad.


The palaver was sawdust and treacle. Old Bottleblue buzzed for a bit,
And a sniffy young Wiscount in barnacles landed wot ’e thought a ’it;
Said old Gladstone wos like Simpson’s weapon, a bit of a hass and all jor,
When a noisy young Rad in a wideawake wanted to give him what for! 12 something to talk about


‘Yah! boo! Turn ’im hout!’ sings yours truly, a-thinkin’ the fun was at ’and,
But, bless yer! ’twas only a sputter. I can’t say the meeting looked grand.
Five thousand they reckoned us, Charlie, but if so I guess the odd three
Were a-spooning about in the halley’s, or lappin’ up buns and Bohea.


The band and the ’opping wos prime though, and ’Arry in course wos all there.
I ’ad several turns with a snappy young party with stror coloured ’air.
Her name she hinfonned me wos Polly, and wen in my ’appiest style,
I sez, ‘Polly is nicer than Politics!’ didn’t she colour and smile?


We got back jest in time for the Fireworks, a proper flare-up, and no kid,
Which finished that day’s Demonstration, an’ must ’ave cost many a quid.
Wot fireworks and park-feeds do Demonstrate, Charlie, I’m blest if I see,
And I’m blowed if I care a brass button, so long as I get a cheap spree.


The patter’s all bow-wow, of course, but it goes with the buns and the beer.
If it pleases the Big-wigs to spout, wy it don’t cost bus nothink to cheer.
Though they ain’t got the ’ang of it, Charlie, the toffs ain’t—no go and no spice!
Why, I’d back Barney Crump at our Singsong to lick ’em two times out o’ twice!


Still I’m all for the Lords and their lot, Charlie. Rads are my ’error, you know.
Change R into C and you’ve got ’em, and ’Arry ’ates anythink low.
So if Demonstrations means skylarks, and lotion as much as you’ll carry,
These ‘busts of spontanyous opinion’ may reckon all round upon ’Arry.


The ’Arry Ballads’ are too fresh in public memory to need extensive quotation. The example given is a fair sample of the series; which, taken as a whole, very cleverly “hit off” the idiosyncrasies and foibles of the London larrikin.

Stanza VIII, line 4. Walker = Be off!

Taken from Musa Pedestris, Three Centuries of Canting Songs and Slang Rhymes [1536―1896], collected and annotated by John S. Farmer.

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’Arry at a Political Picnic
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