Hoodening Play 1971

Allan:
Dobbin's ill!
Joe:
'E's been rough all this week, and 'e hasn't looked well
Martin:
But he's as strong as a bull and as stubborn as hell
Joe:
But this morning I see 'e 'ad gone and took rougher
And that 'urt me to see 'im just lay there and suffer
Moll:
But he made 'im get up and he fetched 'im some food
Joe:
But nothing I did seemed to do him no good
Allan:
'Is legs looked unsteady and 'e seemed sort of dazed
And 'is eyes sort of cloudy and bloodshot and glazed
Martin:
And his coat was all matted and covered in sweat
Joe:
So I went to tell Master to summon the vet
Allan:
But the rotten old sod just said think of the fee
Martin:
'E's as rich as a lord and as mean as can be
Allan:
'E once searched all day long for a bob in the grass
'E's tighter than Scrooge
Joe:
                    … Or an Aylesbury duck's arse! (That's water-tight, you see)
[or]
                    … and hangs on to his brass
Allan:
So I went back to Dobbin and did what I could
Got hot water and oats — but that didn't do no good
Martin:
So he washed his old chops and he got 'im fresh straw
And then went out to work
Moll:
                    … You couldn't do more
Joe:
Our work was at muck cart; that didn't half stink
Allan:
That fair made your hair curl; well, masters — just think!
Martin:
We were filling the cart from the heap in our yard
We couldn't clear it last year — the frost froze it hard
Joe:
There was horse muck and hen muck and cow's muck galore
Allan:
And pig muck and goose muck and several sorts more
Joe:
I was thinking of Dobbin and feeling upset
So I worked extra hard to try and forget
Allan:
On t'other side Martin was working hard too
And he said that he reckoned the first load 'd do
Joe:
So I got a big forkfull to tie down the rest
That looked like a great big vile dripping crow's nest
I gave 'er a jerk and watched that muck fly
Right over the heap…
Martin:
                    That got me in the eye!
And my forehead and hat, down my neck and back
On which by misfortune I was wearing a sack
Allan:
'E cursed and 'e raved and 'e swore and 'e blinded
Martin:
I'd got my best 'at or I shouldn't 'a minded
Allan:
'E does some sly courting between twelve and one
'E's a dark 'orse I reckon — I seen you my son
Joe:
I reckon she won't want to know 'im today
'E stinks like a polecat from ten yards away
Allan:
She won't want to see him or touch him or smell him
For young maids are fussy and that I can tell him
Martin:
Well, we spent the whole day in the fields
Six, seven loads we carted in all
And made that heap in the farmyard look small
Joe:
That was nigh six o'clock when we visited Dobbin
I could hear a great sighing and puffing and sobbin'
I opened the door; there he lay on his side
I can tell you; I sat on a bucket and cried
Allan:
You could tell at a glance he was breathing his last
He is big, as you know, but laid there he looked vast
Martin:
His great sides swelled up like the side of a hill
But they heaved up and down, and kept on until
A great racking cough like a great clap of thunder
Came and threatened to tear his great sick frame asunder
Joe:
I combed out his mane and did what I could
Cut his tongue and let out some blood
Allan:
Then we covered him up with some sacks and coats
And came along here
Joe:
                    … For to moisten our throats
Allan:
I reckon he's a gonna
Martin:
He can't live long in that state
Moll:
You ought to go back to him, Joe. You can't do much but you'd never forgive yourself if he died and you weren't there
Joe:
All right then. Get me one in. S'long
Allan:
Old Joe'll miss 'im
Martin:
That 'e will. Like a couple of brothers they are
Allan:
Twenty years they've been together
In the fields what'e'er the weather
Now 'e goes to make shoe leather
Martin:
A few months' freedom as a foal
Then the bridle, bit and all
It's a dog's life, 'pon my soul
Moll:
In the summer, cruel flies
Settle round his nose and eyes
Little rest until he dies
Allan:
Twenty yers of toiling hard
Limbs a-tremble, breathing marred
Ends up in the knacker's yard
Martin:
Then at last when toil is over
A dream of hay and oats and clover
Bang! His dreary life is over
Martin:
Our life's no better!
Allan:
You're right boy — that that isn't
We've got some time before old Joe comes back -
Let's tell 'em about it
Martin:
Mother's pregnant -
Moll:
          It's a boy!
Martin:
Great the pleasure — great the joy
Allan:
See that flowers his way beguile
Have hysterics at each smile
Moll:
Marvel o'er his tiny hands
Allan:
Spend the evenings making plans
Martin:
Five years old and time for school
Allan:
Watch him prosper; lad's no fool -
Quick with figures; good with letters -
Sharper than the sons of betters
Moll:
Sound in mind and straight of limb -
Few youths to compare with him
Allan:
Now the time for work comes round
Some "employment" must be found
He will never push a pen
He prefers to work with men
So he takes the nearest job
— and free milk and fifty bob!
Allan & Martin:
Then he works for fifty years
Of labour, toiling, hardship, tears
Fifty years of shivering, sweating
All too frequent kids begetting
Bent and old by forty-five
Stubborn will keeps him alive
And what do you get from the masters?
Smooth talk, and you can't feed the kids on that!
Martin:
 (posh voice)
You're the finest man we've got
Planting, ploughing, does the lot
Higher wages; wish I could
Prices rising; crops no good
You just don't know how bad things are -
(rough voice)
(He found that brand new Jaguar)
Allan:
(posh voice)
Without him what would we do -
no-one we can trust like you
Course you need a holiday
August's corn, and June is hay
Take the last week in November
'Twas lovely last year, I remember
Allan & Martin:
So the years soon drift along
Wind and limb are no more strong
Strength and energy both spent
Screws his crooked back torment
Pains across his guts and back
Poor old beggar gets the sack
Allan:
Eh, it's a dog's life
Martin:
Roll on death — retirement's too far away
Moll:
'Ere's Joe come back. Well?
Joe:
Well, 'e's better!
Allan:
Better?
Joe:
Better
Martin:
Never!
Joe:
'E is. And here's the cause of the trouble
(Joe holds up a length of rusty barbed wire — enough to cause a formidable obstruction in Dobbin's digestive system)
Joe:
Right in his digestive tract
That was stuck, boy — it's a fact
It's that lot made the poor jade cough
Laid him low — nigh took him off
That was twisted round 'is heart
Made him cough and made him fart
Martin:
'Ow did it come out?
Allan:
Tell us about it
Joe:
I went back in, the jade looked worse
Ready for knacker's van or hearse
His eyes were purging plum tree gum
I'd wipe it but some more'd come
Cracked like a puddle in a draught
And only a light fevered breath
Stood between my old nag and death
Allan:
What did you do?
Joe:
Give him a drink
Moll:
What of?
Joe:
Rum!

I went back to master's to reason with him
His old missus answers and let us go in

"He is dining" she said, "and I don't think I ought to interrupt him"
"I hope that it chokes him," I thought

On the table was standing a bottle of rum
I listens real hard, but she still doesn't come
"I'll call again later ma'am. Don't bother him now"
(That old sod'd only refuse anyhow)
I soon had the bottle hid under my coat
Then straight back to Dobbin to moisten his throat

Martin:
So you opened her up, Joe, and gave him the tot?
Joe:
No, opened her up, boy, and gave him the lot!
His leg gave a twitch and his belly contorted
He kicked and he coughed and he belched and he snorted
You'd have thought that a bomb had gone off in his belly
I was scared and I got near the door, I can tell ye
There was one final heave and this lot came in sight
And from that moment on, the nag was all right
Moll:
That's a terrible thing to try to digest
I'd throw it away
Allan:
          Yes, that'd be best
Joe:
Here, Boy, you hold it — but don't try to eat it
Allan:
And that passed through Dobbin — well can you beat it?
Martin:
Since I am holding this thing in my hand
There's something about it I don't understand -
I'm as pleased as the next man he got this to pass -
But did it emerge from his mouth or his arse?
Joe:
I'm not at all sure; from the back, Boy, I think
(Martin lets fall the erstwhile obstruction)
It could hardly match you and your best hat for stink!
Allan:
Well, we best just sing to this lot. Dobbin's better but he won't stir for tonight
(The first bars of Twanky Dillo are sung, then Dobbin's bells are heard in the distance)
Joe:
Listen! Quiet you lot!
Allan:
What's up?
Joe:
I thought I 'eard 'im
Martin:
What — Dobbin? Never!
Joe:
I did, I tell you. Listen. Quiet, I tell ye!
(Several sounds of silence — audience must be admonished if they fail to keep silent — then Dobbin's bells are heard again, this time clearly)
Joe:
I told you I 'eard him
Allan:
Now, Dobbin, inside we must act most refined
(Dobbin farts loudly)
Beg pardon, folks, 'e's still got the wind
Joe:
'E's a damn sight too lively, you hold him, Boy, come
Allan:
'E's not fully digested that bottle of rum
Martin:
I can't hold him. Help me, Joe. Damn, he's away
(Dobbin breaks away and runs madly around)
Allan:
'E's smashed a chair and broke a light
My God, look out Boy! You all right?
Moll:
'E's ate the flowers and pot plants too -
My God alive, what shall we do?
Joe:
Stand and watch the nag cavorting
(Dobbin makes wind)
Hear his posterior snorting
Allan:
He's rearing, stamping, biting, gnashing
Moll:
Hear 'is mighty hooves a-crashing
Allan:
His hoof 'as gone right through a chair
Joe:
Let's drive him out. Boy, you stand there
Moll:
Catch him boy
Martin:
I'll try
Allan:
Look out, he's rearing
Joe:
The boy's down
(Dobbin trots off, his destructive urge exhausted. The rest gather round the prostrate body of Martin)
Joe:
Loose his collar, lift his head
Moll:
Too late Joe, the Boy is dead
Allan:
Fold 'is hands upon 'is chest
Now, betimes, he takes 'is rest
Joe:
Smooth 'is forehead, brush 'is hair
Allan:
See in 'is eyes a glassy stare
Joe:
Old Dobbin's risen from the dead
And done for this poor lad instead
(They settle the corpse and then stand reverently around it)
Allan:
See, the vital spark is failing
Join us in our bitter wailing
Undertaker, start a-nailing
(pointing to Moll)
Joe:
Stand before his body broken
Drop a sprig of flowers as token
Let the doleful dirge be spoken
Allan:
Roses
Moll:
      Pansies
Joe:
            Violets
Allan:
                  Daisies
All:
All express the sweet boy's praises
Joe:
Hear the lark his sad voice raises
All:
Throw on sprigs of winter flowers
Cut off in his youthful hours
Is this blessed lad of ours
(They wrap Martin up and carry him away to the accompaniment of the death march)
Allan:
My God, that's thirsty work
(pause)
Joe
Joe:
Ah?
Allan:
You know Old Master's bottle?
Joe:
Ah
Allan:
Anything in it?
Joe:
Drop, I think, Let's 'ave a look
(They place the body on the ground and sit either side of it. Joe produces the bottle and they both savour its contents)
Allan:
That's better. That's a drop o' good
Joe:
That warms your heart and primes your blood
'Ere's to ye, master — mean old sod
Allan:
That is a drop o' good, by God
Joe:
Allan, old mate, what d'ye think?
We've still a drop o' this good drink
When we thought old Dobbin fated
The rum the jade resuscitated
Well, there lies Martin worse for wear
Allan:
We've only got a drop to spare
Moll:
You rotten beast, to grudge the dying
That's not as if it was your buying!
(They remove the sheet, prop up Martin's head and Molly takes the bottle and pours some of the good liquor down Martin's throat)
Allan:
Molly, gal, leave us some drops
You've spilt the stuff all down his chops
(Martin groans)
Joe:
He's alive
Moll:
Here boy, finish this
(Allan attempts to interpose)
He shall have it, you guzzling swine -
Else you'll stay no friend of mine
(Martin rises painfully from the floor)
Allan:
Steady, old boy. You all right?
You gave us all a proper fright
Martin:
Yes, I think so. What's the time?
I got to meet that wench o' mine
Moll:
That's half past ten — (or actual time)
Martin:
My God, I'm late!
Joe:
You bain't a-going in that state?
Allan:
Poor little wench will 'ave a fit
Joe:
His hat and coat's begrimed with shit
Allan:
That isn't nice, though that's good luck
To soil her pretty hands with muck
Moll:
Her thumbs her pretty nose'll bung
At first whiff of that putrid dung
Joe:
She mustn't touch, I must advise her
His organic fertiliser
(Now, I fear, we've scandalised ye)
Allan:
We best get out of here before we gets chucked out
Well, masters, that's about our lot
There's nothing is there, we've forgot?
Joe:
Pick up the bottle and the wire
Come Allan, Molly, we'll retire
Martin:
Come on Dobbin, take your bow
I'm glad you're feeling better now
Moll:
You've given us twice a proper fright
And that's enough for this old night
Joe:
I'm sorry, maids if I surprised ye
With talk of Martin's fertiliser
I'm only rough, and so's my mate
Allan:
Consider, gents, our humble state -
Which is as yours, however great
Our roughness, foulness we all own
But where's the man who'll cast a stone
No missiles flying? Thank you friends
Martin:
Instead of your charity, donate
To the sick in body, wits or state
Joe:
Come, friends, squeeze out a little more
Come, make it pinch, my good friends, for…
All:
If ye the Hooden Horse do feed
Throughout the year ye shall not need

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