The day hostilities ceased...

Robb Wilton Robb Wilton began his theatrical career in 1903, playing melodramatic villains. He went on to play character parts, but found he was getting laughs and so decided that comedy was the path he should follow. Originally billed as 'The Confidential Comedian' he later became justly famous for his sketches, in which his stock in trade was incompetent officialdom. Probably best known at the time was his Firechief, doggedly trying to remember the route to a house on fire...

Robb: Grimshaw Street - Grimshaw ... now wait a minute, I know it as well as can be, and I just can't place it...

Florence: Oh come along, it's only just round...

Robb: No, no, no -- don't tell me, let me try and think of it for myself. Grimshaw St-... oh, isn't that annoying, I could walk straight to it, and I can't think of it...

It was the Second World War that brought out the best in him. Explaining with great patience to his wife, Rita, his responsibilities as a member of the Home Guard, with its HQ in the local...

'...the times that woman's driven me into the local...'

...Robb Wilton managed to portray the baffled Everyman, dealing ineffectually with the rules, restrictions and regulations thrust on him as a result of our being at war. Every saloon bar had its Wilton imitator - 'The day war broke out... my missus said to me...', but he and he alone, could perform with that exquisite timing that made the mundane hilarious. Eventually the war ended, and that happy event led to this monologue, transcribed from a recording made before an audience of factory workers...

The day hostilities terminated, my... my missus said to me: "What are you going to do now?" I said "What do you mean, what am I going to do now?" "Well," she said "there's no Home Guard, no more fire-watching, they don't want any more Special Constables, so what are you going to do?"

I said "I'll do something" - she said "what?" I said "How do I know? I don't know till I see Charlie Evans tonight." She said "what's Charlie Evans going to do?" I said "He doesn't know 'till he sees me - we've got to talk it over." She said "Talk what over?" I said "Post-war plans." She said "what's them?" I said "That means future plans - we - we'll meet tonight at the local at eight o'clock, and by closing time we might have a very good idea of how we stand." "Well", she said "neither of you had any idea of how you stood at closing time last night. And," she said, "on Peace Night you got mixed up in a fight." I said "Well, blimey, if you can't have a fight on Peace Night, when can you?"

But trying to find work now the war is over isn't going to be too easy - there's so few jobs the Missus can do. I did call at a factory the other day, and I very nearly got a job. I saw Bill Wills... (strong audience reaction here - obviously a well-known member of staff). Ah! Now, one - one of the nicest... he said, he said "Have you had your dinner?" I said "No" - he said "We have!" He said, he said "You're a bit late turning up aren't you?", he said, "Where do you think we'd all be if we were all like you?" I said "well, I'm very fond of Southend myself, but..." He said "Well", he said "if I do take you on" he said "I might, I might have to put you in the Women's section. But" he said "you seem a bit too old for that." I said "Oh, I don't know!" I said "What do... what do you work at yourself?" He said "Me? Me?" he said "I don't work, I'm the Foreman." I said "Ah, well anything like that'll do me," I said. He said "Anyhow," he said "I may be able to give you a start in a week or two."

And so I went home, and I told the Missus. I didn't tell her right away, because she hasn't been too well lately, but when she came to, she said "And you're going to start work?" She said "Ooh, if my poor mother could only have lived to see this day..." and then swooned off again.

Well, now, I did think of taking a pub, and I said to the Missus, "If I do", I said, "that Charlie Evans, he'll come in with me." She said "That'd be nothing new - he always does!" I said "No, you don't under-", I said "When I say he'll come in with me, I mean he'll come in with me on a sharing basis." She said "What sharing basis?" I said "I don't know - it'll all depend on what supplies we get." Then she said "Don't forget there's a lot of worry about... and what about shortages? Some days," she said, "the pubs have no beer at all!" Oh lumme, she does get morbid... And only the o... oh! Good gracious me, look at the - I should - they've been open three minutes! Charlie will have the needl.. I've never been as late as this before - I must be off - tata! I'll see you later - so long!

Playoff - "Little Brown Jug"