Old Albert had lived a hard life, being born into a very poor family in the North East. He had moved to the area in search of work and a better future for his large family of six. He had worked in iron foundries, steel works, coal mines and all the jobs were hard graft for little pay. During the Great War he had been a stoker in the Royal Navy and had seen action under Jellicoe at the Battle of Jutland. He was really a bit of a rough diamond, which was understandable to some extent, working hard and drinking hard. A good portion of his wages would go on horses, baccy and booze.
He could get nasty after a skin-full of ale and was an embarrassment to anyone in his company at the time. When there was a bit of a sing song, Albert fancied himself as a great soloist. In reality he was terrible, especially when drunk. When he got up to do his turn it was a sign for a mass exodus to the toilet! It could be very funny though to see him stumble drunkenly through a song. He once sat down beside me after one of his performances and asked what I though of it. “Well, Albert,” I said, “I thought that the first song you sang was better then the second one”.
“Second? Bloody second! What bloody second? I only sang ‘O Sole Mio’!”