Wednesday, 19 February 2014

"Twenty tons of Horse Sh*t and the actor Malcolm Tierney.....".

It's an old joke, set as it is anywhere between the years of The Great Depression to sometime after the Hitler War, but one of the few I know that features both cargo-carrying on the canals and those of a thespic persuasion, old love........

I offer it here in tribute to my dear old chum, Malcolm, who took his last bow and curtain-call last night.

An impecunious theatre actor cannot afford the train or bus between the towns to which the show he is in is touring, despite it not being far.......

Showing the resource and improvisational ability for which the acting profession is so well known, he disdains Shanks's pony and decides to hitch a lift on a canal boat instead.

He has all of Sunday to accomplish the trip, so, having found a likely boat, he adjusts his fedora jauntily over one eye, clasps his cape about him against the chill of the dawn, and settles in at the bows.

As the mist breaks over the morning waters, in his mind's eye he could be aboard Cleopatra's Royal Barge, cruising the sacred Nile, rather than the rather more industrial variety upon which he finds himself.......... somewhere in the West Midlands.............

Just as he is sinking deeper into this pleasing reverie, he is rudely awoken by the shouted conversation between bargee and lock keeper:

"What cargo, there, bargee?", cries the lock keeper.

"Why, sir, 'tis but twenty ton o' horse shit and the actor Malcolm Tierney!"yells the bargee.

This ruffles the calm of the journey somewhat, but thanks to the smooth progress, gliding through the calm water, our actor hero manages to compose himself anew and returns to pleasant reverie.

Only to be once more jarred from his daydream by the boat's arrival at the next lock:

"What cargo, there, bargee?"

"Twenty ton o' horse shit and the actor Malcolm Tierney".

This time, the actor struggles to recapture his floating dream, but is on the very cusp of success when the boat arrives at the bottom of a very long flight of locks.............

"What cargo, there, bargee?"

Before he has a chance to reply, the actor turns and ennunciates in the rich, full tones of The Academy of Dramatic Art...

"Could I have a word about the billing, love?"

Goodnight, sweet prince.

You were a wonderful actor and a true and kind friend. You will be much missed.

May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.


  1. Replies
    1. Horse goes into bar: barman looks up: "Why the long Face?"

      Don't be sad. Malcolm turned the joke I related into an epic tour de force. And we laughed, long and loud.

      That is how I shall remember him: With love, and with laughter.