Works in the Bulletin 1915

At the song service held in the Y.M.C.A. marquee on Sunday evening, Mr. F. E. Wright, field officer at the Expeditionaries' training camp at Broadmeadows, launched a "clean lip" campaign....with the following brief pledge: "I promise always to endeavor to use only clean language, and to influence my comrades to do the same!"

The pale young man he comes to me,
   An' chats me good an' fair;
"The langwidge that you use," ses he,
   "Pollutes the good, clean air.
Why don't yeh chuck sich silly rot,
An' line-up with the Clean Lip lot?"

But, square 'n' all, I got no use For them poor, shrinkin' guys, Who, at the sound of coves' abuse, Turn pale, an' rolls their eyes. To use the fancy swears I hear Comes natural as sinking beer.
Beef an' blood-gravy's fightin' food, Not milk; but, all the same, I come to see there ain't no good In this crook-landwidge game. An' so a little vow I made, An' joined their swell Clean Lip Brigade.
'Twas 'ard! But sternly I pursoo'd Me course; an' wore a frown Thro' swallerin' me speech unchewed, An' chokin' curse-words down. Oh, dear! It was a dreadful stunt! Then, gracious me, I hit the Front!
A feller in the firin' line, Tied up with sich a gag, Who has to curse by look an' sign, He fair gets out the rag. An' so, I ses, each time I shoots, "I'll teach you, you - you - you - you broots!"
I don't care wot the goodies say, It's cruel fightin' dumb! To curse a bit, once in a way, Relieves yer feelin's some. I kills four men in fair, clean fight, An' seven extra out er spite.
An' then there come the bay'nit charge. The blokes to left an' right They all was cursin' fine and large, But I keep mum, an' fight. I plunks a square-'ead in the wind - "Annoying fellow; there!" I grinned.
With that a great, big 'ulking chap, Comes at me with a sword (The thing I need in that scrap Was just one little word). "Haw! You - you person," I begun; But while I talks, he gets in one.
Far in the chest I gets that swipe, An' crumbles in a heap. An' starts to think the time is ripe To 'ave a long, deep sleep. "You are intensely rude," I said - An' so they leaves there for dead.
They invaleeds me 'ome, although The wound gives me no cares. The cause of my complaint, know, Was bottlin' up me swears - Congestion of me "Damn" denied: It made me feel all swelled inside.
The pale young man he comes to me. "Ah, friend," he says, "how now? Your lips are clean, I'm pleased to see, An' you 'ave kep' your vow!" "Me lips is bonzer," I replied. "But, 'struth, me throat is scarified!"

The Bulletin, 11 March 1915, p16

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004