North Shields Co-op 1920s

The Tale of the Mongoose.

Photograph of a mongoose

Mongoose

Walter at the Co-op was the youngest one of all
Every dirty job they had, they knew which name to call
Mice and rats ran everywhere, the bosses had a fright
What to do? How to kill? They puzzled day and night.

Send for that strange animal; a mongoose fierce to train
Who to care for such a beast? The answer was quite plain
Walter Armstrong, get him here, give the beast to him
He will bear the cage up high to attics dark and grim
Frightened as he was, poor lad, of teeth as sharp as steel
Walter did the job, and heard the panic-stricken squeal.

Rats and mice lay dead around with Mongy killing fast
The place was cleared of vermin, the bosses breathed at last
But one dark night, a group of lads mistook it for a rat
And killed the poor old mongoose, squashing him quite flat.

Within a week the rats were back as cheeky as can be
In the flour, in the grain, the mice were roaming free
The frugal housewives of the day while choosing cut-price food
Would never guess their bargain buys were really not so good!

Another tale of Walter’s retold in honest tones
Was of the huge consignments from Argentina, of bones
No fridges were on ships to keep the meat all cool and fresh
So by the time they got here, they were a slimy mess.

Stinking to high heaven tipped out onto the yard
All swilled down with hoses, assistants on their guard
For maggots fat and squirming and flies-a-buzzing round.
Sold with, three pence pot stuff, housewives always found
A bargain meal to keep starvation from the door
All I can say I’m jolly glad that we were not so poor!

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