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Tom Barker
Joondalup, Australia

Once upon a time in England,
on the river Trent.
An old man on a barge did live,
white haired and so bent

He used to make a living,
going up and down the canal.
But now he was getting old,
and hid his money behind a panel.

Sometimes at the weekends,
when kids were not at school.
He'd make a fire on the bank,
and sit there on a stool.

The old man was a loner,
had returned from World War one.
To find his only love
with another had soon gone.

Bitter and disappointed,
and he openly he wept.
But put it all behind him,
and a vow he kept.

Never would he forget her,
and hoped one day she might,
Really kiss him on the cheek,
instead of in dream at night.

Sometimes he'd light the fire,
and sit there on the bank.
Then light up his old clay pipe,
and into a dream he sank.

He would dream that they had married,
and had lots of kids.
That's why he liked telling stories,
so he did not hit the skids.

With village kids all around him,
he would launch into his tale,
Of how a fisherman called Jonah,
got swallowed by a whale.

Then there was Robin Hood,
with the sneaky Sheriff tall.
Fat Friar Tuck and little John,
and Cinderella at the ball.

Wide eyed and clapping,
all the kids would cheer.
He even went as far
as quoting old King Lear.

But one dark night a villain struck,
and with one awful thud
Struck him savagely from behind,
and left him in the mud.

The local Copper came around,
and this is what he said.
"Be sure and lock your doors at night,
before you go to bed."

Then there was a detective chap,
who from the Yard did come.
He'd smoke and sup tea all day,
while sitting on his bum.

One day he was sitting sipping,
there in the pub quiet snug.
When a bloke wi' a big red hanky,
strolled nonchalantly into t' pub.

Straight away the Copper noticed,
the hanky did not have white dots on red.
But on closer inspection
it had red on white instead.

So promptly he was arrested,
and taken to the local nick.
But it was there he protested
nothing on him they could stick.

But the villain came unstuck,
when the Coppers found a pipe.
And little tin of baccy,
then the villain had a gripe.

I only wanted water,
to make a cup of tea.
But the miserable old beggar,
wanted to see the back of me.

But the kids knew this was untrue,
the old man was so kind.
Yet this cowardly assassin.
had struck him from behind.

Meanwhile our London bobby,
who from the Yard had come
One day was looking at the pipe
and holding it like a gun.

Underneath there were some scratches,
so grabbing a looking glass,
He suddenly muttered, "I'll be blowed!"
or was it, "Just a farce."

But returning to the river,
where the old man had lived.
He boarded the barge, looked all around,
then all the cinders sieved.

Following the instructions,
of the scratches on the pipe.
He went back to the barge,
and for fingerprints did wipe.

He inspected all the panels,
in the cabin wall,
And finding one a bit set back,
but it wouldn't give at all.

Then he saw a rusty nail,
hanging on some string.
And remembering an old movie,
the bells began to ring.

Looking down the panels,
he found one as black as coal.
So offering in the little nail,
he pushed it in the tiny hole.

A three foot square popped open,
and it was just stacked with loot,
There must have been five million pounds,
some stuck in an old boot.

Socks stuffed with pound notes,
and there was a big book,
So the Copper opened it
and in it he had a quick look.

Everything was listed,
so every penny earned.
Over all those weary years
while for his sweetheart he yearned.

But right upon the back page,
a bit of paper stuck with glue.
A message to anyone
who had a bit of a clue.

This money here I do bequeath,
to all the poorest kids,
Who never knew happiness,
for you this poverty rids.

And may you have a happy life,
until your dying day.
And may your life be full of colour,
like the poles we dress up in May.

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