This month’s Lancs Art comes to us at LHL courtesy
of Jack Aston.
The Lion and Albert was one of a series of monologues performed famously by Stanley Holloway and the author, Marriott Edgar. Regrettably these types of artistic revelry are very rarely performed today, but in the distant past were very popular in places like the old music halls or around the family piano at homes in the evenings. These monologues are examples of an art form which is essentially old Lancashire.
The illustrations are from a book called ‘Albert, Arold and Others, published by Francis, Day and Hunter of London and the illustrations were done by John Hassall.
Hassall (21 May 1868 – 8 March 1948) was an English illustrator, known for his advertisements and poster designs. Hassall was born in Walmer, Kent, and was educated in Worthing, at Newton Abbot College, and at Neuenheim College, Heidelberg
The piece we have published is the original with Jack Aston’s satirical comments posed inbetween lines (Red) to interplay with the sketch from the modern point of view. The Blackpool Menagerie, which was on the top floor of the Tower building was a large open area with animal cages around the perimeter. Some of the animals caged there, performed at Blackpool circus. One dare only release a wry smile at what modern day health and safety would have thought of such a precarious situation!?
Albert and the Lion – A horror story?
Written by Marriott Edgar and performed by Stanley Hollowway; the story concerns a family, namely the Ramsbottoms, Ma, Pa and Albert who go to the seaside for a nice day out. But tragically this was not to be!
We read: -
There’s a famous sea-side place called Blackpool, that’s noted for fresh air and fun
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom went there, with young Albert, their son!
Albert – What a treasure!
A grand little lad was young Albert, all dressed in his best; quite a swell,
With a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle, the finest that Woolworths could sell.
So what happened next?
They didn’t think much to the ocean; the waves was all fiddlin’ and small; there was no wrecks and nobody drownded;
in fact nothing to laugh at all!
Clearly they had heard what to expect from Blackpool!
So seeking for further amusement, they paid and went into the zoo; where they’d Lions and Tigers and Camels and old ale and sandwiches too!
The zoo was housed at the time in the tower building. It was on the top floor and was basically a large room with cages along two sides and bench seats in the centre area. Refreshments could be purchased! The fact that there was a safety rail with a gap in front of the line of cages is ignored in the poem’s text.
Now there were one great big Lion called Wallace; his nose were all covered in scars and he lay in a somnolent posture, with the side of his face on the bars.
Now Albert had heard all about lions; how they was ferocious and wild and seeing Wallace so peaceful, well it didn’t seem right to the child!
Clearly, Albert was a precocious child, but also he had a questioning mind!
So straightway, the brave little feller, not showing a morsel of fear, took his stick, with it’s ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle, and pushed it in Wallace’s ear!
You could see that the lion didn’t like it, for giving a kind of a roll, he pulled Albert inside the cage with ‘im and swallowed the little lad ‘ole!
And what were his parents doing, whilst all this was going on? Clearly they were not taking a lot of notice of their son! However: -
Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence….
However the father did see what had happened!
And didn’t know what to do next…..
Well, you wouldn’t! Would you?
Said, “Mother! Yon lion’s ‘et Albert.” And Mother said, “Well! I am vexed.”
So Pa is a bit confused, but his wife reacts strongly and this probably determines the next action.
complained to the animal keeper, that the lion had eaten their son.
It’s somebody else’s fault! And a culprit must be found, so the authorities are called in!
The keeper was quite nice about it; he said, “What a nasty mishap! Are you sure that it’s your boy he’s eaten?
Does he disbelieve the parents? However, Pa puts him straight….
Pa said, “Am I sure? There’s his cap!”
Mother and father decide to appeal to a higher authority.
The Manager had to be sent for! He came and he said, “What’s to do?”
Pa said “Yon lion’s ‘et Albert! And ‘im in his Sunday clothes too!”
Father clearly has an eye for important detail!
Then Mother said, “Right’s right, young feller: I think it’s a shame and a sin,
For a lion to go and eat Albert, and after we’ve paid to come in!”
Mother has hit the nail on the head, getting to the crux of the matter!
The manager wanted no trouble! He took out his purse straight away and said, “How much to settle the matter?”
And Pa said, “What do you usually pay?”
What? Is this chap trying to bribe them? And Pa seems to think this is a good idea!
But Mother has a different idea and thinks of her son! She thinks that once again the authorities had let them down!
But Mother had turned a bit awkward, when she thought where her Albert had gone and she said, “No! Someone’s got to be summonsed!” So that was decided upon!
Recourse to the Law should help!
Then off they went down to the p’lice station, in front of the magistrate chap! They told ‘im what had happened to Albert and proved it by showing his cap!
Proof indeed and they are very optimistic at this point; but, is their hope unfounded?
The magistrate gave his opinion; that no one was really to blame…
Had he been ‘got at’? Perhaps he thought that the zoo might have to close, if too much fuss is made.
….and he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms would have further sons to their name!
Hardly the outcome the family had hoped for and once again Mother intervened with common sense….
At that Mother got proper blazing, “And thank you Sir kindly,” said she, “What waste all our lives raising children; to feed ruddy lions? Not me! “
So there we have it: A day out becomes a horror story and the Ramsbottoms return home without their son!
However that is not the end of the story! Watch this space to find out what happens next!
Marriott Edgar 1880-1951 was a poet, script writer and comedian. Probably the best known of his works were amusing monologues, performed in the Music Halls and in private homes as entertainment in the evenings. The Lion and Albert was one of the best known of the monologues; but there were others of which the following is a sample: -The Return of Albert. Albert and the ‘eadsman, The Jubilee Sovereign, The Runcorn Ferry!