Ginger's Cobber

''E wears perjarmer soots an' cleans 'is teeth,'
That's wot I reads. It fairly knocked me flat,
'Me soljer cobber, be the name o' Keith.'
Well, if that ain't the limit, strike me fat!
The sort that Ginger Mick would think beneath
'Is notice once. Perjarmers! Cleans 'is teeth?

Ole Ginger Mick 'as sent a billy-doo
Frum somew'ere on the earth where fightin' thick.
The Censor wus a sport to let it thro',
Considerin' the choice remarks o' Mick.
It wus that 'ot, I'm wond'rin' since it came
It didn't set the bloomin' mail aflame.

I'd love to let yeh 'ave it word fer word;
But, strickly, it's a bit above the odds;
An' there's remarks that's 'ardly ever 'eard
Amongst the company to w'ich we nods.
It seems they use the style in Ginger's trench
Wot's written out an' 'anded to the Bench.

I tones the langwidge down to soot the ears
Of sich as me an' you resorts wiv now.
If I should give it jist as it appears
Partic'lar folk might want ter make a row.
But say, yeh'd think ole Ginger wus a pote
If yeh could read some juicy bits 'e's wrote.

It's this noo pal uv 'is that tickles me;
'E's got a mumma, an' 'is name is Keith.
A knut upon the Block le used to be,
'Ome 'ere; the sort that flashes golden teeth,
An' wears 'or socks, an' torks a lot o' guff;
But Ginger sez they're cobbers till they snuff.

It come about like this: Mick spragged 'im first
Fer swankin' it too much abroad the ship.
'E 'ad nice manners an' 'e never cursed;
Which set Mick's teeth on edge, as you may tip.
Likewise, 'e 'ad two silver brushes, w'ich
'Is mumma give 'im, 'cos 'e fancied sich.

Mick pinched 'em. Not, as you will understand,
Becos uv any base desire fer loot,
But jist becos, in that rough soljer band,
Them silver-backed arrangements didn't soot:
An' etiket must be observed always.
(They fetched ten drinks in Cairo, Ginger says.)

That satisfied Mick's honour fer a bit,
But still 'e picks at Keith fer exercise,
An' all the other blokes near 'as a fit
To see Mick squirm at Keith's perlite replies,
Till one day Keith 'owls back 'You flamin' cow!'
Then Mick permotes 'im, an' they 'as a row.

I sez 'permotes 'im,' fer, yeh'll understand
Ole Ginger 'as 'is pride o' class orl right;
'E's not the bloke to go an' soil 'is 'and
Be stoushin' any coot that wants to fight.
'Im, that 'as 'ad 'is chances more'n once
Up at the Stajum, ain't no bloomin' dunce.

Yeh'll 'ave to guess wot sort o' fight took place.
Keith learnt 'is boxin' at a 'culcher' school.
The first three rounds, to save 'im frum disgrace,
Mick kids 'im on an' plays the gentle fool.
An' then 'e outs 'im wiv a little tap,
An' tells 'im 'e's a reg'lar plucky chap.

They likes each other better after that,
Fer Ginger alwus 'ad a reel soft spot
Fer blokes 'oo 'ad some man beneath their 'at,
An' never whined about the jolts they got.
Still, pride o' class kept 'em frum gettin' thick.
It's 'ard to git right next to Ginger Mick.

Then comes Gallipoli an' wot Mick calls
'An orl-in push fight multerplied be ten,'
An' one be one the orfficers they falls,
Until there's no one left to lead the men.
Fer 'arf a mo' they 'esitates stock still;
Fer 'oo's to lead 'em up the flamin' 'ill?

'Oo is to lead 'em if it ain't the bloke
'0o's 'eaded pushes down in Spadger's Lane,
Since 'e first learnt to walk an' swear an' smoke,
An' mixed it willin' both fer fun an' gain -
That narsty, ugly, vi'lent man, 'oo's got
Grip on the minds uv men when blood runs 'ot?

Mick led 'em; an' be'ind 'im up the rise,
'Owlin' an' cursin', comes that mumma's boy,
'Is cobber, Keith, with that look in 'is eyes
To give the 'cart uv any leader joy.
An' langwidge! If 'is mar at 'ome 'ad 'eard
She would 'a' threw a fit at ev'ry word.

Mick dunno much about wot 'appened then,
Excep' 'e felt 'is Dream uv Stoush come true;
Fer 'im an' Keith they fought like fifty men,
An' felt like gawds wiv ev'ry breath they drew.
Then Ginger gits it solid in the neck,
An' flops; an' counts on passin' in 'is check.

When 'e come to, the light wus gettin' dim,
The ground wus cold an' sodden underneath,
Someone is lyin' right 'longside uv 'im.
Groanin' wiv pain, 'e turns, an' sees it's Keith
Keith, wiv 'is rifle cocked, an' starin' 'ard
Ahead. An' now 'e sez ''Ow is it, pard?'

Mick gently lifts 'is 'ead an' looks around.
There ain't another flamin' soul in sight,
They're covered be a bit o' risin' ground,
An' rifle-fire is cracklin' to the right.
'Down!' sez the mumma's joy. 'Do
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"Ginger's Cobber" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 24 Jun 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6342/ginger's-cobber>.

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