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Albert gets called up

Into t’ Ramsbottoms’ end terrace
dropped a letter stamped wi’ a crown,
an’ it demanded young Albert’s attendance
at t’ recruitment office in town.

“They want me at nine o’clock on Tuesday,
I might ’ave to go off to a war.
They’ll give me a number in khaki
An’ I won’t be your Albert no more.”

“Don’t be daft, lad,” said Mr Ramsbottom,
“A uniform’ll make you look smart.”
“I don’t want to be a soldier,” cried Albert.
“And I'll miss my mam’s apple tart.”

“There’s nowt wrong wi’ a bit o’ conscription,
and t’ army’ll teach thee a trade,
you might even learn summat useful,”  said Father,
“But you’ll ’ave to do it, I’m afraid.”

So Albert went off as instructed,
an’ turned up at t’office in town.
’E were surprised when t’ medical attendant
said: “Take thy underpants down.”

Then t’ doctor took ’old of ’is thingies
an’ ordered young Albert to cough.
“Cough cough cough,” went a startled young Albert,
expectin’ ’em both to drop off.

“Passed A1,” said the doctor to Albert,
“You’ll make a fine soldier, I’m sure,”
Albert pulled up ’is trousers right quick
and shot off like a rocket through t’door.

First off ’e were posted to Padgate,
where they slept two dozen t’ ’ut,
an’ Albert complained: “I don’t like this.”
But t’ corporal said: “Keep thy gob shut.”

“But, but, but . . .” stuttered our Albert,
“this billet is filthy ’n’ ’ot,”
then t’ corporal threw such a stare
that it rooted our Albert to t’ spot.

“My eye’s on you, Private Ramsbottom,
an’ I can make your life ’ell,
so keep your trap shut in future,
an’ get your bloody ’air cut as well!”

“But, but, but . . .” our Albert muttered,
’cos ’e really wanted ’is say,
but ’e bit ’is tongue quite severely
for the corporal ’ad turned back ’is way.

“Ramsbottom, you’ll spend every evenin’ on jankers,
if I ’ave any more of your lip.”
So Albert thought ’e’d better be silent,
an’ not let another word slip.

They paraded to an ’ut ’uge an’ draughty
to get boots what ’ad to be cleaned
till t’ corporal could admire ’is reflection
in toecaps which glistened an’ gleamed.

Two shirts, four vests an’ some trousers
underpants, socks, collars, an’ soap
is how t’ army made men into soldiers,
but looking at Albert – some hope!

Uniformed at last were young Ramsbottom,
but, at attention, ’e looked an odd sight,
’cos while ’is jacket were quite roomy
’is trousers were a damn sight too tight!

Albert became acquainted with bull –
No, not them as live in a field –
But spitting an’ polishing an’ cleaning,
an’ the mountain of spuds ’e’d to peel!

Marching didn’t come easy to Albert –
’e discovered ’is weakness tout de suite.
’E were no ruddy good for the army:
’E’d been born with a pair o’ left feet.

So Albert was sent ’ome as a civvy;
a career in t’ army out o’ reach.
But ’e got a smart uniform in Blackpool
as a deckchair attendant on t’beach.

Mike Wilson 2005

This tale should bring back a few memories to those who went through National Service


Mike Wilson