Belle's Domain

Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat

Skimbleshanks, the Railway cat, the cat of the Railway train!
There's a whisper down the line at 11.39
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying `Skimble where is Skimble? Has he gone to hunt the thimble?
We must find him or the train can't start.'
All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
Would be searching high and low,
Saying `Skimble where is Skimble for unless he's very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can't go.'
At 11.42 with the signal's nearly due
And the passengers are frantic to a man -
That's when I would appear and I'll saunter to the rear:
I've been busy in the luggage van!
Then he gave one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal went `All Clear!'
They were off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!

Skimbleshanks, the Railway cat, the cat of the Railway train!

You could say that by and large it is me who is in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
I would supervise them all, more or less.
Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and in the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.
He will watch you without winking and he sees what you are thinking
And it's certain that he doesn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk are very quiet
When Skimble is about and on them ove.
You can play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a Cat that cannot be ignored;
So nothing goes wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks is aboard.

It was very pleasant when they found their little den
With your name written up on the door.
And the berth is very neat with a newly folded sheet
And there's not a speck of dust on the floor.
There was every sort of light - you can make it dark or bright;
There's a button that you turn to make a breeze.
There's a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face in
And a crank to shut the window if you sneeze.
Then the guard looks in politely and will ask you very brightly
`do you like your morning tea weak or strong?'
But I was just behind him andwas ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.
Then they crept into their cosy berths
And pulled up the counterpane,
They all could reflect that it's very nice
To know that they wouldn't be bothered by mice -
You can leave all that to the Railway Cat,
The Cat of the Railway Train!

Skimbleshanks, the Railway cat, the cat of the Railway train!

In the watches of the night I was always fresh and bright;
Every now and then I had a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of Scotch while I was keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
They were fast asleep at Crewe and so they never knew
That I was walking up and down the station;
They were sleeping all the while I was busy at Carlisle,
Where I met the stationmaster with elation!
They might see me at Dumfries, if I summoned the police
If there was anything they ought to know about:
when they get to Gallowgate there they do not have to wait -
For Skimbleshanks will help you to get out!
And he gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: `I'll see you again!
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The Cat of the Railway Train.'

Skimbleshanks mannequin, also featuring Anna and Casey the Raccoon.  New London theatre



Australia 1989

Japan 2001


UK tour 2007