A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “When I Was a Lad”

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In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaires encounter plenty of adults you might consider as idiots, a word which here means, “if they’re not affiliated with the villainous Count Olaf or guaranteed to die for being too good for this sinful earth, they’re most likely incompetent or unable to help the Baudelaires in any meaningful way.” But there is no adult in this series who’s as utterly useless and idiotic as Mulctuary Money Management’s most famous banker, Mr. Arthur Poe. In the ASOUE books, Mr. Poe is the guy who’s in charge of managing the vast Baudelaire fortune the kids are set to inherit when Violet turns 18. Yet, he’s also the guy who sends the Baudelaire orphans to their respective guardians and is the last guy you’d want associated with child services. Seriously, Mr. Poe doesn’t know the meaning of the word, “background check.” Still, throughout the series, he is blatantly ignorant, easily gullible when he shouldn’t be, and never listens to the Baudelaires. This despite that he should know better. Furthermore, he thinks the kids will be safe wherever they end up despite the Count Olaf always finds them. Sure he might mean well, but he always proves so unhelpful to the orphans that Lemony Snicket thinks a jar of mustard would be better equipped to keep them out of danger. And I don’t think I can disagree since he seems the most useless adult in the Snicketverse, which is no small feat considering the stiff competition.

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As for musical numbers, a great song to characterize him would be “When I Was a Lad” from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta HMS Pinafore. In the play, this is the introductory song of First Lord of Admiralty Sir Joseph K. Porter who describes his rise through law and politics to become head of the Queen’s Navy. Despite that he has absolutely no experience with any sort of naval command or ship. Kind of like how Donald Trump has no experience in government but 60 million people voted him to be president and now we’re stuck with him in the White House. Anyway, what’s interesting about Admiral Porter is that he’s based on a real guy named W.H. Smith who became First Lord of Admiralty despite having no navy background whatsoever. The joke with Porter in this song was more about the massive corruption involved as he recounts his rise through law, politics, and eventually his current position almost entirely thanks to nepotism. Smith’s reputation never recovered because the 19th century Brits never let him live it down. Seriously, the Band of Royal Marines greeted him with this song during his visit to Portsmouth. And Benjamin Disraeli often privately referred to him as “Pinafore Smith.” Though my ASOUE version of this song gives Mr. Poe plenty of relevant experience, I do add a stinger on why you wouldn’t want to entrust him with your kids.

 

“When I Was a Lad” (ASOUE Version)

Sung by Mr. Poe

Mr. Poe:
When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to this financial firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.

Chorus:
He polished up the handle of the big front door.

Mr. Poe:
I polished up that handle so carefullee
That now I am an executive at Mulctuary!

Chorus.
He polished up that handle so carefullee,
That now he is an executive at Mulctuary!

Mr. Poe:
As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clerk.
I served the statements with a smile so bland,
And I copied all the letters in a big round hand.

Chorus:
He copied all the letters in a big round hand.

Mr. Poe:
I copied all the letters in a hand so free,
That now I am an executive at Mulctuary!

Chorus:
He copied all the letters in a hand so free,
That now he is an executive at Mulctuary!

Mr. Poe:
In serving statements I made such a name
That an articled clerk I soon became;
I wore clean collars and a brand-new suit
For the pass examination at the Institute.

Chorus:
For the pass examination at the Institute.

Mr. Poe:
That pass examination did so well for me,
That now I am an executive at Mulctuary!

Chorus:
That pass examination did so well for he,
That now he is an executive at Mulctuary!

Mr. Poe:
Of financial knowledge I acquired such a grip
That they took me into the management.
And that junior management, I began,
As executor of various wealthy families.

Chorus:
As executor of various wealthy families.

Mr. Poe:
The Baudelaires and Quagmires most famously,
That now I am an executive at Mulctuary!

Chorus:
The Baudelaires and Quagmires most famously,
That now I am an executive at Mulctuary!

Mr. Poe:
I grew so rich that I was sent
Promoted to senior management.
I always heeded at my bank’s call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.

Chorus:
He never thought of thinking for himself at all.

Mr. Poe:
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me an executive at Mulctuary!

Chorus:
He thought so little, they rewarded he
By making him an executive at Mulctuary!

Mr. Poe:
Now young clerks all, whoever you may be,
If you want to rise to the top of the tree,
If your soul isn’t fettered to an office stool,
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule.

Chorus:
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule.

Mr. Poe:
Stick close to your desks and never see your kids,
And you all may be executives at Mulctuary!

Chorus:
Stick close to your desks and never see your kids,
And you all may be executives at Mulctuary!

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One response to “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “When I Was a Lad”

  1. Wow, this is perfect! First of all I am thrilled that you know about H.M.S. Pinafore, and secondly bravo for making the very appropriate connection to Mr. Poe. I love it! I can totally picture this.

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