It has been suggested that Ford’s Parade’s End owes much to the example of A.S.M. Hutchinson’s 1921 novel If Winter Comes, an earlier book about a good man stuck in an unhappy marriage and trying to maintain his integrity in a discouraging and corrupt world. Hutchinson’s novel was a phenomenal success and led led to many spin-offs, including a Hollywood film (tantalisingly unavailable) and a song.
I assume that when the great comic monologuist Billy Bennett (Almost a Gentleman) produced the following version, he would have been parodying the song – there doesn’t seem to be any reference to the novel:
IF WINTER COMES
The world is full of sunshine. The birds are full of song.
The happy humble homes are full of hope.
The pubs are full of swallows. The bagpipes full of wind.
And the barber’s cat is full of hair and soap.
The bees are full of beeswax. The Tripods full of tripe.
And the plumbers that I meet are full of plums.
The bus is full of Bustles and the Powder’s Fullers’ Earth.
But the world will lose its smile if winter comes.
Refrain: If winter comes, you’ll find the roses dead.
If winter comes, you’ll find the noses red.
If winter comes, we’ll all be frozen to the bone.
If one can’t sleep together then two must sleep alone.
If summer goes, it’s Pancake Tuesday.
If winter comes it’s Sheffield Wednesday.
A lady in our village in the simple life believes.
She wears a daring costume that resembles mother Eve’s.
But when Christmas time approaches there’ll be only holly leaves,
So she’s hoping for the best if winter comes.
Let me sit down for a minute, Sir,
so I can watch all the seasons go by.
There’s a season for cricket and Ludo
and the season they put in pork pie.
Nature is rich in the springtime –
spring mattress, spring onions, spring chicks.
If a Scotsman sits down on a thistle
then its springtime as soon as he clicks.
Summer’s the time for the seaside
where you’ll see all the ladies on view.
You can see a lot more in the sunshine.
You can see more than that in revue.
Autumn’s the time when the leaves fall
when Adam said I won’t be done.
But when he got there the cupboard was bare
so he said what a good boy am I.
Winter is chockfull of winter
and the girls feet are frozen, I’m told.
So marry a man that has whiskers,
to stuff in your socks when it’s cold.
‘Twas inside a pork butcher’s window
on one of these cold winter’s nights
And I pitied the poor little sausage
with nothing to wear but its tights,
When up jumped a little black pudding
and said this shop is a disgrace
The black pudding shouted “I’m freezing”
and with cold he went white in the face.
Outside in the street was a robin
picking up crumbs on the track.
But the robin slipped down on an iceberg
And his red breast slipped right up his back.
Last year we had a pudding, ‘twould have been alright no doubt,
But Ma boiled it in the kettle and we couldn’t get it out.
So we had to take it in our turn and suck it through the spout.
So, we’re hoping for the best if winter comes.
More Bennett monologues can be found on the rather splendid ‘Make ’em Laugh’ website