Victorian London - Childhood - Children - children being cheeky
I am apprehensive in beginning to tell stories of London children for fear of
telling too many. But I must give a few.
Outside Great Portland Street station it was raining, and I wanted a taxi-cab. A small boy volunteered to fetch one from the rank; as he came, holding the handle to indicate temporary ownership, a bigger lad tried to intervene and take the handle.
'Go away,' ordered the smaller boy indignantly. 'Go away, can't you. I was the one that was asked to get the taxi for the silly old swine,' a touch of the cap to me, 'wasn't I, sir?'
I was walking up Seymour Street with a very tall actor friend; a boy from Somers Town school ran across with all the air of one eager to deliver an important message.
'If he was to fall down,' said the boy, 'he'd find hisself 'alf way 'ome; tell him!'
A lad called at a general shop and asked for a packet of cigarettes. The proprietor declined to serve.
'Until you reach the legal age,' he said brusquely, 'as I've often told you before, I don't dare supply you.'
The lad went off to the doorway.
'Got any broken biscuits?' he asked.
'Lots,' answered the shopkeeper readily.
'Mend them!' said the boy.
You know, I expect, the story of the City Policeman and the Infuriated Musician. In case you have missed it:
'Do something to that boy over there,' ordered the annoyed man. 'Box his ears, hang him, tell his mother; do something.'
'Well, sir,' said the policeman judicially, 'what's happened? What's occurred? What's took place?'
'I was coming along a minute or two ago, and he ran across and asked me - very civilly I admit - what the time was. I put down my violin case, I unbuttoned my overcoat, I took out my watch, and I told him it was ten minutes to three. "Right," he said. "At three o'clock, get your 'air cut!"'
'But you're all right, sir,' said the constable reassuringly, 'you're all right. You've got a good seven minutes to spare yet!'
W. Pett Ridge, A Story Teller : Forty Years in London, 1923