Here's a greeting from the old Pier Head in the Port of Liverpool
And may your ship come home to you, full laden on this Yule.
Perhaps you've turkey, perhaps scouse, perhaps just Xmas pud.
Please, as you eat, and sup, believe--I wish you all things good.
You can be sure this will endure, it's better far than quids.
Come as an appetizer or to scarper from the kids
Hiking round this city great. I love it with all my heart
Round Scotty Road or Limey, or even posher part
In Cabbage Hall or Knotty Ash (whur coppers walk in purs)
Soho St where Mother yells, "Johnnie get up them sturs!"
To Marshy Lane or Parky Road we'll make our sober way
Me Judy's Xmas tie we'll hid, to Brunny Dock an' sniff duh spray
And then return to fireside gay to pull a Christmas cracker
So may your day in every way be a gear one, me ould Whacker.
By Billy Matchett
All the Best, Uncle Bill, Xmas 1962
"The above poem was written in the hand of my grandfather's brother, music hall comedian Billy Matchett. I have no idea whether it is original to him or not."
"Happy Christmas." Christopher T. George
Comedian, Dame, (Variety) Music Hall Chairman
Billy Matchett was born at a time that was probably the height of the Music Hall era. His birth date is somewhat disputed in published matter as 27th or 28th August in 1889 or 1890, however his son Ken Matchett gives us 28th August 1889. There are few references to him in literature although Roy Hudd gives us a personal view of the man and his performance in 'Roy Hudd's Cavalcade of Variety Acts':
"Comedian. Born Liverpool, 1890. A Liverpool comic of the old school. I saw him as Chairman in Old Tyme Music Hall. He had all the attack and gusto of the music hall, having learned his trade the tradional Scouser way, via smokers, working men's clubs and concert party. He graduated to play variety, revue and pantomime (always as the dame) at almost every theatre in Britain. He was a regular broadcaster in John Sharman's Music Hall.
Billy first saw life at 46 Merlin Street. His father, George Matchett was a stevedore at the local docks. His early days were tinged with tragedy. His Mother died early and when his father remarried Billy with his two younger brothers went to live with their Grandmother. He was a pupil at Harrington Board School Liverpool but his attendance was spasmodic. In those days when money was in very short supply Billy took on jobs whenever he could to bring in a little money and eventually left school early to help keep the family. He worked on Liverpool Docks when he could, as a docker but was often thwarted by his father, who selected the workers for the gangs and was frightened of being accused of 'nepotism'
Through the twenties he took on a summer engagement and took the family with him for the holidays. The children enjoyed it immensely. In 1927 he made his London, West End debut as principal comic at the ‘Alhambra’ Leicester Square (now Warner Cinema) in Florrie Forde’s show ‘The Mirthquake’ from which he took his billing, although this was changed when he was appearing in Liverpool, when he was billed as "Liverpool's Own" His theatre heyday seems to be through the thirties when he was keep busy appearing in many Road Shows with ‘The Two Leslies’- Sarony and Holmes, and often with Sandy Powell in summer seasons on Onchan Head, Isle Of Man.
He died in his beloved Liverpool on 15 November 1974.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Bob Edwards, author and creator of Liverpool Picturebook.
Echoes Of Merseyside
Featuring Billy Matchett
Poetry by Billy Matchett
Christopher T George