As Bert himself sang at the beginning of the legendary 1964 Disney classic:
"Winds in the east, mist coming in, / Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin. / Can't put me finger on what lies in store, / But I fear what's to happen all happened before."
There is a definite history that the cockney chimney sweep shares with the magical nanny and it brings all the other characters within the story together. A theory surrounding the movie musical has worked out that Mary Poppins was indeed Bert's nanny, many years ago. There are numerous circumstances within the film that point to this connection and it only makes the world of Mary Poppins more magical. The idea suggests that Mary had soared in to mend Bert's broken family (more on that later) but sadly failed and, because of her guilt, she visits him when she can to check up on him.
Now, let's not waste anytime as we get to the details of the theory. As you all aware by now; "in every job that must be done there is an element of fun, you find the fun and snap, the job's a game":
1. Bert's Various Careers Shows He Knows The Value Of Hard-Work
Within the movie we see Bert has no less than four jobs and with each role he does it with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. The singing cockney clearly appreciates how music will help you along your way in your work. Now, where have we seen this before? That's right, Mary Poppins sang to the children in the nursery to get them to tidy up. The nanny managed to make Jane and Michael work hard with the aid of a song:
There's no doubt that Bert had this useful message instilled in him from an early age and how many singing nannies do you know? Mary Poppins was surely the one to show him the magic of a "Spoonful Of Sugar."
2. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" And Bert's Knowledge Of The Word
As the clip above shows, Bert knew of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious's existence before the song is sung. The chimney sweep must have heard the word before and understood the powers it held. There is simply nowhere else he would have been able to learn a word quite so complex, other than from Mary herself. In addition, the lyrics Bert sings even comment on his childhood and how the word helped him:
"Because I was afraid to speak/When I was just a lad/My father gave me nose a tweak/And told me I was bad/ But then one day I learned a word/That saved me achin' nose/The biggest word I ever heard/And this is how it goes, oh/ Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
Bert's overbearing father made him a timid young lad, until one day a lady with an umbrella and a carpet bag came and taught him one hell of a life saver. The same can be said for Bert's lack of shock or surprise when Mary pulls off something magical, because he's seen it all before.
3. Bert's Poetic Opening To The Movie
As mentioned in the introduction, Bert's slightly ominous set up for Mary's arrival means he must have experienced it all before. The one-man band player senses the wind change and we know that Ms. Poppins operates with the winds. Therefore, there is no other explanation other than Bert has met Mary before and knows of her capabilities.
4. Bert's Father Was Old Mr Dawes
The physical resemblance is obvious and we know this because the actor, Dick Van Dyke, played both characters in Mary Poppins. What isn't made clear is their relationship to one and other. We know from the Supercalifragilistic lyrics that Bert's father was a mean man and we learn from meeting Mr Dawes at the bank that he is too a terribly cruel person.
Could Mr. Dawes be the father Mary was trying to change and in turn help little Bert with his relationship with his dad? In addition, we never learn Bert's surname, could he be Bert Dawes?
5. Bert And Mr Dawes Are Both 'Blue Bloods'
Mary, as wonderfully portrayed by Julie Andrews, sings to Bert in the "Jolly Holiday" sequence. First of all, Poppins comments on how the cheeky cockney "hasn't changed a bit," this has to be because she's watched him grow into the man we see on the screen. The more important lyric has to be however:
"Though you're just a diamond in the rough, Bert/ Underneath your blood is blue"
The magical nanny is clearly referring to Bert's rich and aristocratic background. Who else do we know who ranks highly in the class system of this world? Mr Dawes of course, thus validating even further than Dawes is Bert's father.
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6. Mr Dawes Floats When He Laughs, Just Like Bert
If you're lucky enough to get to interact with Mary Poppins you gain the ability to float when you laugh. Bert does it, Uncle Albert does it, even Michael and Jane do it. What's more surprising then is that old Mr Dawes too floats up into the air when he's having a good guffaw. Therefore, it can only mean that the grouchy old bank manager has indeed been exposed to Mary's magical ways before. Most likely when he hired her as a nanny for his young son all those years ago.
7. Uncle Albert May Also Be Related To Bert
The fact that Bert calls Albert "Uncle" is the first clue that they may well be related. It make sense to assume that Mr Dawes had a younger brother who he may well have named his son after. Bert is short for Albert after all. What's more is that Mary Poppins calls him Uncle Albert, I doubt that in Edwardian England, Mary would have called Albert that, unless she was told to by the family. It's out of habit of working for the Dawes that she calls him Uncle. More importantly is Uncle Albert's problem of laughing himself up to the ceiling. The giggling man surely must have been around Mary enough to catch this magical gift, in the same way Mr Dawes did. Here we have Bert's family set out for us without us even realizing it.
Mr Dawes Senior clearly doted on his other son, Mr Dawes Jr, because of his ambition to follow in his footsteps. Bert must have shown other dreams, pushing him further away from his Dad. Enter Mary Poppins, who arrives to make the family a better place for all involved. However, as Bert's later life shows us, it didn't work and he was cast aside by his mean old Dad.
8. Where Bert Ages Mary Doesn't
In response to any thoughts that this theory may not work because of the age of Bert and Mary, well there's only one good explanation for that. Mary is magical, she's probably hundreds of years old and has helped more children than you can imagine. Bert is a mortal who ages like any human being, Mary however possess wondrous powers, I mean she lives on a cloud, doesn't she? Poppins will live forever, which is the way I personally feel about Julie Andrews.
8. Further Proof From The Sequel: Mary Poppins Returns
In case you were questioning just how viable this theory is, the new Mary Poppins movie only reaffirms what has been suggested. The Disney sequel will see the nanny return to Michael and Jane's lives when they are fully grown. The practically perfect governess clearly likes to check back in with all her wards. Mary is called into action when the children, she previously cared for, are struggling with the loss of a loved one. Poppins has a devoted way of ensuring all those children she doted on know that she will always care for them no matter where she might be. Bert is the finest example of this and we feel that Mary will be visiting him for a very long time.