Friday, 2 June 2017


by Dave Roberts

Winston's New Shoes is, quite simply, another old joke made into a piece of verse. Although it wasn't written in anything like a 'Northern' dialect it has its roots firmly in the Northern tradition as exemplified by Stanley Holloway and Marriott Edgar.
Ted's shoe shop could be anywhere in the country, I suppose (though Ted betrays his Northern origins with 'By the 'eck!') but there's little real doubt that it's somewhere north of  Watford.
This 'Northern-ness' has been magnificently exploited by none other than Monologue John, Master of the Monologue, who I first met back in the 1990s at the old Crewe & Nantwich Folk Festival. We worked together on  numerous occasions during the days of the Salt Town Poets and I was pleased to present the John Brunker Trophy (the last one ever, actually) to John and his then performing partner Dorothy Fryman in the days when they called themselves 'Song & Story'.
This trophy, named for one of my own early school teachers, was awarded for excellence and originality in performance, something 'S&S' had in spades, and John still has.

'Song & Story' ('Monologue' John Bartley and Dorothy Fryman) with the last-ever John Brunker Trophy
John has performed thousands of monologues over the years, and I couldn't help but be flattered when he latched onto Winston's New Shoes.
I suppose he must have seen the potential of the poem as a 'Lion & Albert' style monologue (for want of a better phrase) and pulled out all the stops.


Here he is on Youtube telling the tale of Ted, and Nellie, and Winston's odd shoe requirements in fine style. You'll note, if you follow the original text, that John has embellished the poem with even more Northern touches

Watch the gleam in his eye as he delivers the 'sting in the tail' ending.
That, my friends, is how it should be done!

Here's the original poem:


IN the shoe shop one cold morning, Ted was working very hard
Writing down the retail price of pairs of shoes on bits of card,
When suddenly the door flew open, and in came charging Nellie Hughes.
'Hello Nellie!' Ted said, brightly, 'have you come to buy some shoes?'

'Yes I have, they're for our Winston - him as lives with Auntie Rose'.
She looked around the shop, then pointed - 'they're nice, give me three of those!'
'By the 'eck!' said Ted, 'your Winston must be doing well at school!
'Three pairs of shoes! How very generous!' Nellie scowled. 'Don't be a fool!'

'Do you think I'm made of money? I can't afford three pairs of shoes!
'Three single shoes is what I'm after!' Ted said, 'they only come in twos.
'Besides, why would the lad need three shoes? That's one too many, can't you see?'
Nellie tutted with annoyance. 'I don't know, Ted, you tell me...

'It's been three years since I've seen Winston, back when he was only ten,
'Rose has written me a letter, saying how he's changed since then.
He's got a new school uniform, he's clean and neat, his hair's been cut...
'But here's the bit that's got me flummoxed - she says he's grown another foot!'

© Dave Roberts/Salt Town Productions 2017

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