Old Sourpuss

Don’t you feel like laughing? You’re listening to it all. Getting worked up.

I swear! It’ll never bother you! You can have my word on it. I’ll encourage you always. Only you’re just a worm!

Think your studies make you a bigshot. You’re crazy! It’s over!

You want to take advantage of your know-how. To change things. Remember, no finagling and no monkey-business.

Just crap it out son.

Your lousy war’s over. For some.

I know you can’t stand for my advice but I ain’t asking. You don’t know a thing!

Can you handle it? Yes or no?

I ought to break your fingers. Snap ’em one by one. You’re flat on your face at the first slipup! You’ve got it coming! I’ll kick hell out of ya! It oughta worry ya. Beat it! Don’t forget what I said. It’s just like that. It ain’t cushy.

You’re raving, you talk to me like it was hell and high water!

Balls! You’ll see! You’ll be wetting your blanket before I’m out. Blow it out yer ass little ’un!

That war screwed up everything.

Marked for life.

Button up! – I’ve started talking. I ain’t had a chance to say anything. Boy! I ought to gag ya with that half-ass remark. Smack yer in the teeth. You ain’t the only one in a daze. I’m stamping with rage.

I’ve been standing here, watching. That’s how I am. Hypocrites!

Old Sourpuss, he shouts in the street.

Mumbles, no-one listens, that’s ol Sourpuss, he’s out of his mind. Cross over the street Matthew, he’s coming ....

I ain’t drunk like the others. No fog on my bows. There’s going to be shit to pay.

I didn’t make anything of myself.

Sore at everyone! They all want to buttonhole you. I let ’em!

Speak up! Don’t you know there’s a war on!

Saw my certificate. Discharged!

Stagger a donkey!

Blow me if I wasn’t crawling with bugs! I’ll do what I can, doc said. Just let ’em try and kick me out! I’d sure like to see ’em try. Small-timer!

Ha! This ain’t my Waterloo. What’s that bunch want, little rascals. I’ll set my dog on you! Scram!

He talks to himself, Old Sourpuss, he’s all wacked up. Poor Old Sourpuss.

Don’t you pity me ! Damned sure ! I ain’t short of a bob or two!

He just jabbers away to himself – hears voices and answers.

That ain’t me.

Doublecrossing bastard! You think I’m just riffraff? A roughneck? I’m warning you, I don’t want yer sympathy.

Driving rain!

Ah! How I wish I were free! They can deport me. Ah, if I were free.

Enough. Inventions. I should play dumb like the rest. Make a wrong move, I’m a goner. I don’t want to see them … writhing snakes tied in knots.

I am not one of them! Jabbering am I? I’m standing here dreaming. What an outfit!

Stubborn bastard won’t budge.

I’m warning you! Don’t you sigh at me sonny Jim! I got photos in my hat! Children.

Don’t you pin that anarchist flag on me or I’ll fuckin kill ya! I’d go myself if I were free. Like you!

I’ve got a shitload of it son … you don’t want to listen to me.

I ain’t yer daddy. Your daddy’s dead in the war. I’m real sorry son. I lost it a long time ago. I got the shakes. Look, you don’t want to know me, my head’s full of lice. It’s not over neither. Boy, things are moving. In cahoots! A pretty bad egg.

Pissed up! I had to take the rap! I was warned. I understood. Anarchists!

Fuck ’em.

Everywhere’s my soapbox.

I don’t want to sour things up. I’ll shift.

No-one could touch me. They think you’ve coughed up your marbles. Retching. Wretched casualty.

Not at all! I know about a lot. I’m no victim! Don’t try to pin that on me! For pity’s sake.

O God, he stinks!

Know something about it do you dear? I don’t want to stink you neither! Damn you! What do you need?

Lousy whore!

I wouldn’t want to catch it!

Maybe I stink but you’re the cause of it! Doing down an old peg-leg. I ought to give ya a clip around the ear’ole!

Old grouse!

I’ve got all I want. I ain’t hanging around for arseholes like you.

Enjoy it while it lasts. You’ll soon be a withered old prune. I’m telling you ! Yo’ll be splitting your sides then an’all.


I’ve took bullets, most yo’ve took is a fuckin pork sausage!

Ignore ’im Stella.

Fuck off!

I’ll ram a poker up the fuckin both of ya!

Ooooh, would ya?

I’ll clout you!

Tat-ta you ol bugger!

Phonies! Spongers!

Pity the poor pimp!

Take my word for it. Sky’s the limit. You make me sick! You got it easy.

I can’t take any more of it! It was never enough.

You’d think they were kids. Balls to it! Handing it out all over the place. I see through them.

That sends ’em off their nut! I ain’t drooling over their bit of flesh. Go on pal, beat it! Pain in the ass.

Grafters! I’m so glad it’s women’s work. It’s a mug’s game.

I oughta cash in my chips. Have a bite to eat. Good as new! Right as rain!

Sir, you are an artist! You are all the world has ever needed.

You dance the Dark Waltz.

I talk straight! No beating about the bush!

They’re after your hide.

They won’t get it. No stopping, no going back.

What’s eating me? What’s this millstone around my neck?

Humping it everywhere I go !

No smoke without fire!

Stiff upper lip ol son! Keep up the morale! Yessur! Yessur! Three bags full SIR!

Spick ’n span. A bright new pin.

To hell with it! The poor world’s full of syph! All in the same bag together. Timid bastards! Bloodsuckers!

I’m just a poor fish.

Gentlemen, gentlemen – where are your manners? Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Batty old cow! Have her for a fiver! No discussion! Fucking gippo! Clucking away.

Damn it! I ain’t sharing it with that trollop!

They’ve got it in for you from the start. With their flouncy skirts. I’ll oblige you missy! I rip you to the core!

Stealin’ cheatin’ boozer.

Join the circus luv! Bearded fuckin’ lady! You got a future!

Laying down the law to me! They can scratch your eyes out. Think nothing of it. Misfits!

Where’ll it all end?

Buggered if I know! Brats! Floozies! Goodbye!

Don’t squabble! Sit up straight!

Haven’t I defied ’em!

Shut up, slut! Pot calling the kettle black! You’re the tramp my dear! Putting on airs and graces.

Place is teeming.

Never wise up a dope!

They only argue with you!

Dead men chattering. Can’t jam ’em in their boxes fast enough! Bags of bones on the merry-go-round. They can blow their whistles in hell! No give and take!

No need to boast! It’s all a racket.

After all I’ve been through! What’s the point getting steamed up? It might never’ve happened.

Barbed wire everywhere! Foxholes! All dug in! Mortgages! No flesh left.

Happy-go-lucky. That’s me!

Don’t call me screwed up son, I took shrapnel in the leg.

You make me smile. All your little dreams evaporating one by one. And you turn your heads away! Nitwits!

My bunions are killing me.

Rarin’ to go!

You’re all bamboozled by the newspapers! And it’s not over yet.

All stewed up over ten p off! Prices slashed! Get it while it lasts! Eat your fill!

Fitting in a hamburger into your busy busy lives. Pipe dreams! Wisecracks! And not a damned thing more!

Don’t get any wrong ideas. I have consolation for my sorrows. I was a child sitting on his lap.

Twiddling with his mustache.

He knew the rigmarole!

Never wise up a dope.

Never hold a grudge.

Never so much as

smudge away

a tiny fly.


~The End ~


First published July 1992. Originally hand-set in lead in Garamond and hand-printed in a limited edition of 40 copies, at The Herculaneum Press, London.