Daily Express, Friday, October 16, 1903

Poem 15

(By P. G. Wodehouse) 1



When Lebaudy first saw London’s
Streets, he’d callers in abundance, 2
Men who blocked the royal staircase,
And who tapped the royal door.
But his vigilance and cunning
Were more exercised in shunning
An old Parrot, who said nothing
But “Your food will cost you more.

I have heard he found it galling,
This interminable calling. 3
(Those who listened at the keyhole
Say the harassed monarch swore);
But the visitor he hated
More especially, it’s stated,
Was undoubtedly the Parrot,
With its “Food will cost you more.

Every morn, as he was dressing,
To his ears came that depressing,
Irritating piece of nonsense
He’d so often heard before.
Every night as he got ready
For his comfortable bed, he
Was disturbed by those provoking
Words, “Your food will cost you more.

And whatever his endeavour,
Be he ne’er so shy and clever,
He will never find a refuge,
That unlucky emperor.
He may hide where’er he pleases—
Till his vessel on the seas is
He will not escape that Parrot,
With its “Food will cost you more.



This is the first poem in the series that can safely be attributed to Wodehouse on the strength of an entry in his notebook, “Money Received for Literary Work”.


Jacques Lebaudy, the self-styled “Emperor of the Sahara” (see poem 11 note 5), began a visit to London in late September 1903. The Daily Express of 29 September reported that he had taken “a modest suite” on the 4th floor of the Savoy Hotel and that word of his arrival, to buy goods for his new empire and to select officers for his army and navy, had spread quickly, with the result that he was besieged with callers.


On 30 September, the Express reported that Lebaudy was refusing to see callers, or to be interviewed, after his experiences with the French press.