Picture Credit: [Cropped] By Allan Warren – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Holloway#/media/File:Stanley_Holloway.jpg

Between the two World Wars, several British poets wrote comical monologues to lift the spirits of their fellow citizens and servicemen.  Almost one hundred years later, humour is very different today and yet these monologues still manage to raise a chuckle. And the chuckle is raised whether it’s the first time you’ve heard it, or you’ve heard it so many times that you can recite it off by heart.

Perhaps the comic best known for reciting monologues is Stanley Holloway (OBE 1890-1982). Although Holloway was born in London, he had served with a Yorkshire Regiment in WW I and acquired a close and detailed knowledge of the Yorkshire dialect which he put to good use in his rendering of the monologues. He became famous for his comic character roles on both stage and the big screen, such as his role as Alfred Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’. He began his recording career using ‘The Ramsbottom’s’ monologues written by Marriott Edgar. The most popular of all these monologues is without doubt The Lion and Albert.

My connection with The Lion and Albert
When my youngest son was just four years of age, he recited most of The Lion and Albert at my brother’s wedding in Ireland. That was a long time ago.  I hadn’t realised that Roy Hudd had performed the monologue – otherwise when he was my guest at a corporate dinner, I might have asked him to perform for us!

Listen to: The Lion and Albert
Stanley Holloway: https://youtu.be/oaw-savyK0s
Roy Hudd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUVzki2j87k
Marriott Edgar: https://youtu.be/g3JxoxVqbY0

Selection of Monologues From http://monologues.co.uk
Read these monologues and enjoy – simply click on the red links below:

  • Pukka Sahib This sketch involved Stanley Holloway as a serious monologuist in full evening dress, hounded to distraction by Leslie Henson and Cyril Richard as two Indian army officers. From their vantage point in the stage box, they interrupted throughout and constantly sought to make Holloway ‘dry’ or smile.
  • Sam Small’s Shelter It occurred on an evening in springtime, And Sam ‘ad coom out of his ‘ouse, To look at his flowers, bulbs an’ suchlike, And maybe to give ’em a souse.
  • Sam Small It occurred on the evening before Waterloo, And troops were lined up on parade, The Sergeant inspecting ’em he was a terror, Of whom every man was afraid.
  • Albert’s Reunion You’ve ‘eard of young Albert Ramsbottom, And Mrs Ramsbottom, and Dad, And the trouble the poor lion went through, Trying to stomach the lad.
  • Albert Evacuated Have you heard how young Albert Ramsbottom, Was evacuated from home, With his mother, clean socks and a toothbrush, Some syrup of figs and a comb.
  • Sam Small at Westminster You’ve ‘eard of Sam Small, ‘oo dropped musket, On parade when ol’ Boney ‘eld sway. Well, thanks to the ‘monkey gland’ treatment, Old Sam is still with us, today.
  • One Each Apiece, All Round Number 2-4-6-8, Private Samuel Small, Were up before his Captain, To explain away a brawl.
  • ‘Halt, Who Goes There? Old Sam first came to London, When George the Fourth were King, He’d been in th’Army, man and boy, For twenty year come Spring.
  • The Food Demonstrator One day at a food demonstration, To which I shall later alude, Mrs. Cutterbuck, to her amazement, Found out there were three kinds of food.
  • Sam’s Fortune It happened one evening in Wigan, at a certain men’s club I could name, We were some of us standing round talking, And some of us playing a game.
  • Albert Evacuated Have you heard how young Albert Ramsbottom, Was evacuated from home, With his mother, clean socks and a toothbrush, Some syrup of figs and a comb.
  • Brahn Boots One day at a food demonstration, To which I shall later allude, Mrs. Cutterbuck, to her amazement, Found out there were three kinds of food.
  • Sam’s Christmas Shopping Sam Small were invited one Christmas, To visit some friends down in Kent, But owing to war and taxation, Most of ‘is money was spent.
  • The Beefeater First of all, Sir, we come to the canteen, Where you wash the cobwebs off your chest. And in Yorkshire that means beer is best.
  • The Famous Name of Small There are names as written down in Britain’s history, Sooch as Drake and Nelson, Iron Dook an’ all. But coom to work it out, bloomin’ names like them are nowt, When reckoned wi’ the name of Samuel Small.
  • The Parson of Puddle In the sweet little, neat little, Only one street little, Parish of Puddle, Over which I preside.
  • Brahn Boots Our Aunt Hanna’s passed away, We ‘ad her funeral today, And it was a posh affair, Had to have two p’licemen there!
  • Sam’s Parrot Na tha’s ‘eard of owd Sam, well, that very same chap, Were out walking one day for a stroll, And were padding down t’ high street just casual like, On his way to sign on for the dole.
  • The Green-Eyed Dragon Once upon a time lived a Fair Princess, Most beautiful and charming; Her Father, the King, was a wicked old thing, With manners most alarming.
  • And Yet, I Don’t Know Now, my sister’s daughter Elizabeth May, Is going to get married next Sunday, they say. Now, what shall I buy her? She’s such a nice gel! I think a piano would do very well.
  • Beat the Retreat I’m a hundred and two today, bagoom! Eh, today I’m a hundred and two, And at ten years of age I was soldiering, aye, I wor drummer boy at Waterloo.
  • Yorkshire Pudden Hi waitress, excuse me a minute, now listen, I’m not finding fault, but here, Miss, The ‘taters look gradely… the beef is a’reet, But what kind of pudden is this?
  • Sam’s Medal You’ve ‘eard of Samuel Small, per’aps? A lad of bulldog breed, ‘Oo saved ‘is Sergeant-Major’s life; (A most unusual deed).
  • My Word, You Do Look Queer I’ve been very poorly but now I feel prime, I’ve been out today for the very first time. I felt like a lad as I walked down the road, Then I met Old Jones and he said, ‘Well I’m blowed!’
  • Many Happy Returns Down at the schoolhouse at Runcorn, The ‘eadmaster walked in one day, Looking all ‘appy and cheerful, Which wasn’t his habit, they say.
  • The Street Watchman’s Story Some chaps get the fat and some chaps get the lean, When they start on their journey thro’ life. Some make pots of money by being M.Ps, And some get it by taking a wife.
  • Sam, Drummed Out When a lad’s been drummed out of the Army, He’s an outcast despised by all men; I’d rather be shot at dawn any old time, ‘Cause I never get up before ten.
  • Sam’s Sturgeon Sam Small were fishing in canal, ‘Twixt Manchester and Sale; He hadn’t had a bite all day, And nought to sup but ale.
  • George and the Dragon Some folks’ll boast about their family trees, And there’s some trees they ought to lop; But our family tree, believe me, goes right back, You can see monkeys sitting on top!
Martin Pollins