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George and the Dragon

by Marriott Edgar
Illustrations by John Hassall

I've run out of petrol, said Joe
"I've run out of petrol," said Joe

George and the Dragon, a typical name for a typical English country pub. An institution largely unchanged for over a thousand years; until the last 30 years or so.

Now they have almost disappeared; replaced by 'family restaurants', kids playground in the garden, wider choice of pickles for the 'ploughman's lunch', inside toilets (renamed as American 'restrooms'), an interesting increase in the number pubs offering of lap dancing bars, and no smoking.

Of course, not all these 'improvements' are welcomed by all customers. Many hanker for the pre-karaoke days.

But perhaps the best change is that publicans no longer encourage customers, as we read in this poem, to drink and drive!

I'll tell you the tale of an old country pub
As fancied itself up to date,
It had the word "Garage" wrote on t' stable door
And a petrol pump outside the gate.

The "George and the Dragon" were t'name of the pub,
And it stood in a spot wild and bleak,
Where nowt ever seemed to be passing that way
Except Carrier's cart once a week.

The Carrier's cart were a sturdy old Ford
And its driver were known as "Old Joe"
He had passed pub each week but he'd never been in,
It's name even he didn't know.

One cold winter night, about quarter to one,
He were driving home over the moor,
And had just reached the pub, when his engine stopped dead
A thing it had ne'er done before.

He lifted the bonnet and fiddled around
And gave her a bit of a crank;
When he looked at his petrol he found what were wrong,
There wasn't a drop in the tank.

He had eight miles to go and 'twere starting to rain,
And he thought he were there for the night,
Till he saw the word "Garage" wrote on t' stable door;
Then he said, "Lizzie, Lass... we're all right."

He went up to t' pub and he hammered at door
Till a voice up above said "Hello!"
It were t' Publican's Wife - she said,
"Now what's to do?", "I've run out of petrol," said Joe.

She said "Who are you?" He said "Carrier Joe."
"Oh, so that's who it is," she replied
You've been passing this door now for close on ten years
And never once set foot inside."

"A nice time of night to come knocking folks up,"
She continued. "Away with your truck,
You'd best get your petrol where you buy your beer...
You only come here when you re stuck."

The dragon's head appears
The dragon's head appears

Said Joe, "Aye, I'll go if you'll sell me some fuel,
I can't start my engine without.
I'm willing to pay." but she told him to go
Where he'd get his fuel for nowt.

"Coom, coom, Lass!" said Joe, conci-latory like,
"Let bygones be bygones, and when
I come round next time I'll look in."
She said, "Oh, Well, your petrol can wait until then."

With these few remarks th' old girl took in her head
And slammed winder to in his face;
He took a look round and for t' very first time
He noticed the name of the place.

He picked up some pebbles he found in the road
And tossed them against winder pane,
And before very long lattice opened above
And out came the old girl again.

"What d'ye want?" she enquired. And "Not you," Joe replied,
For this treatment had fair raised his gorge
"I see George and t' Dragon's the name on the house,
And I'd just like a word now with George."


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