The funny old man just turned up one day
He opened his case so the music could play
All the sounds you could hear would come from ‘the thing’
And the funny old man would then start to sing.
‘The thing’ was a squeezebox, and yet a trombone
There were certainly strings, and in parts, xylophone
Yet I’m sure that I remember a small kettle drum
And if you got too close it started to hum.
His life was right there in that battered old brown case
Each place that he went, the old thing had it’s place
He was a street entertainer, of some note I might add
And people gave generously to the clever old lad.
He would suddenly appear as if like a wisp
When he spoke, which was rare, he had a slight lisp
The case would be opened and out came ‘the thing’
And to it’s accompaniment the old man would sing.
O what a great voice, it soared like a rocket
And every man’s hand went straight to his pocket
Then suddenly, he lowered his voice in a verse
And ladies gave money from out of their purse.
To other street artists this wasn’t such fun
They consorted to see what ought to be done
They thought if they made him look really quite bad
That would be the end of the crafty old lad.
There are things you can do in the swell of a crowd
Things, if you’re honest, about which you’re not proud
They slipped him a ‘Mickey’, and he lost voice control
But ‘the thing’ saved the day with a fine barcarole.
He carried on for years till he got really old
His voice now much quieter and a little less controlled
One day he announced that he would soon retire
But he’d do one last show in a hope to inspire
The day of the show was so sunny and bright
Folks had strung bunting, it was such a good sight
A buzz of excitement as they wait for the man
Then suddenly he’s there and the whole thing began.
He sang all the old songs and the people all cheered
The competition too, who had usually jeered
It soon became clear though, that the old man was ill
When he came to the last song the audience was still.
He finished with a new song to the ahs and the sighs
So many who were listening had tears in their eyes
With a rueful smile on his tear-stained face
He just disappeared, and likewise, his case.
©Joe Wilson – There was an old man…2015