Extracts from the “Verse and Worse” column [26 May 1901]

[Editor: Some extracts from “Dryblower” Murphy’s “Verse and Worse” column. Published in The West Australian Sunday Times, 26 May 1901.]

Verse — and Worse.

A politician publican of Fremantle was recently delivering an impassioned address to a group of coal lumpers in his front bar, a few evenings ago, and after denouncing the sitting member, asked the crowd if they had any questions to put. “Yes, I have,” said one ancient Collie jerker as he up-ended himself. “What,” he asked, “is your policy on the fiscal question?” “Well, now,” answered the pot-house Pitt, “every man to his trade, and I prefer to leave that to those who deal in ’em.” “Deal in what?” demanded the coal-heaver. “Why,” replied the bung, “you know, those who deal in fish.”!!

*** *** ***

In the Guildford train: Stranger from the Goldfields, to old lady, as several inebriates lurch into the compartment: “They don’t go in much for Sunday closing down here.” Old Lady: “I beg your pardon.” Stranger repeats his statement. With a modest blush the lady, who is a trifle deaf, intimates that “they will as soon as winter comes.” The stranger was puzzled; but then “Sunday clothing” and “under-clothing” are so much alike.

*** *** ***

A few evenings ago a well-dressed inebriate from Fremantle, after vainly endeavouring to purchase a railway ticket to the seaport from the Wellington-street coffee stall, lurched into the arms of a passing “John,” and was immediately collared with a view to being shot in. The sight of the uniform evidently sobered the grog-wrestler, who, being in a decent and responsible billet in Fremantle, was anxious to avoid a police court exposé. After a lot of unavailing entreaty, he offered his arrester a few pounds to let him go. “Couldn’t do it,” said the officer; you’ll have to come with me to the cells and appear before the magistrate to-morrow. Suddenly an idea struck the resourceful drunk-trapper. “I can’t take a bribe,” he said, “but come round the corner and I’ll try you myself.” A quiet spot was found, and the case was gone into by the uniformed Solon, who, after a good deal of argument, refused to listen to the evidence of the drunk. Finally the constabulary Pooh-Bah, after patiently listening to his own evidence, summed up entirely against the accused and fined him £3! The fine was paid!!

*** *** ***

It happened in a Victoria Park hotel last Sunday. The police, in one of those spasms of energy which from some occult reason occasionally convulse the constabulary system, swooped down upon the premises of a “set” publican and raided it. At the time of the invasion, there were only two “contacts” in the bar, and getting the tip in time, both bolted upstairs and jumped into a couple of beds from which the legitimate lodgers had only arisen a hour before. Up the stairs two steps at a time came the constables, just in time to see the door of the bedroom close behind the quarry. In a few moments the bobbies were in the room. “What are you doing in those beds?” demanded one of the constables. One of the persons addressed turned over and emitted a painfully forced yawn. “What do you mean?” he asked; we slept here last night. “You, at any rate, came to bed in a hurry last night,” said the persistent policeman.” The “lodger” in question had forgotten to even remove his hat!!

*** *** ***

The Customs authorities, water police, and immigration officials at Fremantle received a severe shock to their collective systems a few days subsequent to the anarchist scare. The excitement consequent upon the reported landing of disguised Italians and Afghans had scarcely subsided when a posse of the above-mentioned officials, accompanied by several excited members of the daily Press, departed in a special launch to board an incoming steamer. During the short run the nervous excitement attained a white heat, and visions were conjured up of infernal machine explosions in which relentless Royalties and sulky millionaires were to be sent welkin-wards towards the Better Land. The cause of the scare was that information had been received from Melbourne that a number of suspicious foreigners from Venice and Poland — hotbeds of anarchy and nihilism — were coming to W.A. At the ship’s side the truth came out. The cargo mostly consists of “Venetian poles” for the Ducal reception decoration in Perth. A few seconds later reams of anticipatory “copy” went floating out on the sea weed laden zephyrs; and a band of disgusted officials and pressmen retired shorewards, to inflict on themselves a severe kicking.

The West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 26 May 1901, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
Better Land = Heaven

bung = a publican, hotel keeper, hotel landlord (also to throw or toss; also a payment for a dishonest act; also a stopper, such as made from cork or rubber, used for closing up a hole of a barrel, cask, or other container; also broken, damaged)

John = policeman, derived from “John Hopper” (or “Johnny Hopper”), rhyming slang for copper, i.e. cop (policeman)

Pitt = as a general term, “Pitt” may refer to a politician or a budding politician, being a reference to one of the United Kingdom’s longest-serving Prime Ministers: William Pitt, Prime Minister of the UK (1783-1801 and 1804-1806), known as William Pitt the Younger (his father William Pitt, 1708-1778, was Prime Minister of the UK, 1766-1768, known as William Pitt the Elder)

Pooh-Bah = exalted person; leader

Solon = a lawmaker, poet, and statesman of ancient Athens

welkin = the sky

zephyr = a breeze from the west, especially a gentle breeze (from Zephyrus, or Zephyr, god of the west wind in Greek mythology)

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