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At the Drop of a Hat
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Madeira M'Dear

1957 recording introduction:
MF: Would you like to know what I had for Christmas? (whispered, then fortissimo) The hat! (normal voice) That's the wardrobe mistress. I had to warn old Caliban here only the other day not to treat that title too literally. He even brought his own wardrobe. Well, I was going to sing you a little - what's the chap's name? - Edwardian song, and I thought perhaps you wouldn't mind if I was to wear my little Edwardian hat. Last year I was given a decanter for Christmas, very nice thing, cut glass, came from the Portobello Road. I keep madeira in it, a wine of which I am particularly fond, to the despair of the port wine trade. Well now, this decanter has a peculiarity: when you lift it up, it's got a sort of musical box in the bottom, and when you lift it up, it plays a tune. In fact, it plays two tunes; and this isn't either of them.

1959 recording introduction:
I would like to sing you now, a little Edwahrdian - or Edwordian - song; give me a chance to wear my present, my little Edwahrdian hat, or hot. Last year I was given a decanter for my birthday, beautiful thing, cut glass, came from Portobello Road, in which I keep madeira, a wine of which I am extremely fond. Not to excess, of course. That decanter, and this hat, gave us the idea for this little Edwahrdian song.

She was young! She was pure! She was new! She was nice!
She was fair! She was sweet seventeen!
He was old! He was vile and no stranger to vice!
He was base! He was bad! He was mean!
He had slyly inveigled her up to his flat
To view his collection of stamps,
And he said as he hastened to put out the cat,
The wine, his cigar and the lamps:

'Have some Madeira, m'dear!
You really have nothing to fear;
I'm not trying to tempt you-that wouldn't be right.
You shouldn't drink spirits at this time of night;
Have some Madeira, m'dear!
It's very much nicer than Beer;
I don't care for Sherry, one cannot drink Stout,
And Port is a wine I can well do without;
It's simply a case of Chacun a son GOUT!
Have some Madeira, m'dear!'

Unaware of the wiles of the snake in the grass,
Of the fate of the maiden who topes,
She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
Her courage, her eyes-and his hopes.
She sipped it, she drank it, she drained it, she did;
He quietly refilled it again
And he said as he secretly carved one more notch
On the butt of his gold-handled cane:

'Have some Madeira, m'dear!
I've got a small cask of it here,
And once it's been opened you know it won't keep.
Do finish it up-it will help you to sleep;
Have some Madeira, m'dear!
It's really an excellent year;
Now if it were Gin, you'd be wrong to say yes,
The evil Gin does would be hard to assess
(Besides, it's inclined to affect m' prowess!)
Have some Madeira, m'dear!'

Then there flashed through her mind what her mother had said
With her antepenultimate breath:
'Oh, my child, should you look on the wine when 'tis red
Be prepared for a fate worse than death!'
She let go her glass with a shrill little cry.
Crash, tinkle! it fell to the floor.
When he asked: 'What in heaven ... ?' she made no reply,
Up her mind and a dash for the door.

'Have some Madeira, m'dear!'
Rang out down the hall loud and clear.
A tremulous cry that was filled with despair,
As she paused to take breath in the cool midnight air;
'Have some Madeira, m'dear!'
The words seemed to ring in her ear
Until the next morning she woke up in bed,
With a smile on her lips and an ache in her head-
And a beard in her earhole that tickled and said:
'Have some Madeira, m'dear!'

Originally from the album 'At The Drop of a Hat'.