The Gaffer an’ the Horse Trams


I can tell ye, masthar, it’s a sight
On a summer day
If thou’re sitting on a seat on the front
To see the horses clippin’, cloppin’,
An’ the toastracks startin’, stoppin’,
An’ the people on an’ off them hoppin’,
Houlin’ on an’ clingin’ tight.
Aw, goy heng, they swing an’ sway
Jus’ lek dinosaurs at play
On a prehistoric holiday,
Or engagin’ in a kind of secret hunt.

The driver sits in front,
Terrble solemn on his stool,
An’ he gives a flamey grunt,
An’ he gives a clicky soun’,
An’ he give the brassy knob a twis’,
An’ he gives the reins a warnin’ shake
Jus’ to show oul’ Dobbin that it’s time to wake.
Then with a heavin’ shudder an’ a boun’
Off they go; An’ the driver shakes his fis’
At all them wans that think any oul’ fool
Can drive a hoss an’ car along the promenade
Beseiged by taxis, vans and scooters avary yard.

The conductor’s at the back
An’ he surveys his gathered flock
As a hen regards her chickens,
Very anxiously an’ full of tender care.
An’ he swings out with a noncralagh abandon
Upon the running board
At considerable risk
His customers to frisk
Of whatever change that they can lay a hand on.
He is liable to frown
An to play the vaery Dickens
If they fail to fin’ the fare,
Or the charge cannot afford.
He is likely to sop the travelling conveyance
An’ houl the corporation’s progress in abeyance
Till the passenger coughs up or clambers down.

But the hosses, aw the hosses
Is what makes the system pay;
Aw, goy heng, but they’re the bosses,
I don’t keer what thou might say.
An’ theer’s no one yet at all, no one that is able
To make a tram go if the hoss is thinkin’ of the stable.
I remember wan that would sit
An’ roll his eyes lek he was in a fit,
Houlin’ up all the traffic,
An’ norra nother inch would he go
Till they got the vet, who coaxed him slow
An’ aisy back to his stall
Where he recovered mighty quick
For all, for all,
After a lil ras’,
An’ a tidy slick
Of the bes’.

An’ another wan she was a white meer –
Daisy they was callin’ her, ay, Daisy!
Aw, man, to think of that theer
Would sen’ the drivers crazy,
She was that fotherkelley an’ lazy;
As if she was treadin’ on hot bricks.
Purrin’ her hoofs down that dainty
As if the driver as much as cracked his whip
She’d turn in the thrack
An’ look over her back
An’ give him the fright of his mortal career.
By turnin’ back her wicked ear
An’ curlin’ up her lip.

But the wan that used to charm me most
Was a silvery grey
With a long white mane
An’ a long white tail;
An sometimes they was callin’ her Alice May,
An’ sometimes it was Jane.
But most often she was gerrin’ Silver Ghost.
Aw to see her pull a tram
Was to see a poem in action,
With her head held high
An’ her nostrils all a quiver.
She was sartainly the centre of attraction.
An’ well she knew it, the artful filly.
There’s some as say as I’m gerrin’ botched an’ silly,
That I’ve been around too long, too long a liver,
But I bruk me heart the day I h’ard she was to die.
I could see it in her eye,
An’ avar since I’ve wondered why.
An’ now jus’ when it is gerrin’ roun’ to dusk
An’ theer’s a thin light in the averin’ sky,
An’ the trams is put away,
I am seein’ theer between the tramway lines
All silvery in the light that shines
From the new moon’s glimmerin’ husk,
A phantom filly that with silent hoof
Canters her one-time course, alone aloof!