Monday, April 23, 2007


(Tune: Men of Harlech)

What's the use of wearing braces ?
Vests and pants and boots with laces ?
Spats and hats you buy in places
Down the Brompton Road ?
What's the use of shirts of cotton ?
Studs that always get forgotten ?
These affairs are simply rotten,
Better far is woad.

Woad's the stuff to show men.
Woad to scare your foemen.
Boil it to a brilliant hue
And rub it on your back and your abdomen.
Ancient Briton ne'er did hit on
Anything as good as woad to fit on
Neck or knees or where you sit on.
Tailors you be blowed !!

Romans came across the channel
All dressed up in tin and flannel
Half a pint of woad per man'll
Dress us more than these.
Saxons you can waste your stitches
Building beds for bugs in britches
We have woad to clothe us which is
Not a nest for fleas

Romans keep your armours.
Saxons your pyjamas.
Hairy coats were made for goats,
Gorillas, yaks, retriever dogs and llamas
Climb up Snowdon with your woad on,
Never mind if you get rained or blowed on
Never want a button sewed on.
Go it Ancient B's !!

UPDATE - written by W. Hope Jones, mathematics master at Eton College.

UPDATE2 - Moved to the top. A commenter chalked me off for not crediting the writer. All the versions I'd ever seen credited it as 'Anon', but I guessed it was somewhere between Edwardian times and the 20s, as my mother learned it as a child in the early 30s. Wikipedia credited it as an anonymous Scout song, but this Mudcat thread pointed the way. John Moulden wrote :

Sorry to return to the point after so many flights of fancy but my copy (actually I have three of different ages) of the Hackney Scout Song Book (first edition 1921 - this one is the ninth edition (1959) and their contents may have differed) attributes the song to W Hope Jones of whom I know nothing but for whom I will look. [Note the avoidance of terminal prepositions.] The copyright acknowledgment thanks him but makes no reference to a publisher.

Malcolm Douglas added :

it seems that W. Hope Jones was a master at Eton, and wrote the song, c.1921, for the college's Boy Scout troop. ("Gilwell Camp Fire Song Book" and comments on the web.)

At this point a bell rang furiously in the Laban cranium. Wasn't Mr Hope Jones one of the Eton masters who takes the Scout Troop on the ill-fated expedition to Wailing Well in the MR James story ?

He certainly seems the right man. In the Wailing Well Notes we learn that "Known at Eton as "Hojo", William Hope Jones was a maths teacher noted for his eccentricity; he was feared among the Scouts for his loud, stentorian singing." In the story "You cannot be surprised to hear that Mr. Hope Jones added a special verse to each of his songs, in commendation of Arthur Wilcox".


dearieme said...

Woadn't it be luverly?

Anonymous said...

You might be good enough to credit this.

I can't remember who wrote it, but I know fine it wasn't you.

Laban said...

I can't find an author - everywhere on the Web it seems to be 'anon'.

Has a late Victorian/Edwardian feel to it. My mother learned it as a child in the 1930s.

Anonymous said...

All the versions I'd ever seen credited it as 'Anon'

'Anon' has appointed Counsel to collect pending royalties on his extensive works

Anonymous said...

The version my Grandfather used to sing went:
I will sing a song of faces
That you meet in different places
At the dogs' home, at the races
Ev'rywhere you go

Everybody's got 'em
If you'll only spot 'em
Diff'rent jibs like umberella ribs
That worry you until you want to dot 'em
Everybody, without warning
Has to wear the dial he's born in
God save Ireland! Oh, good morning,
Have you used Pears Soap?

No idea who wrote it. Anyone know?

Laban said...

Alas no, but it's a good version. Was that all of it ?

thnidu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thnidu said...

Unfortunately, half the blasted Web seems to credit it to Flanders & Swann. I've got some of their LPs (in storage), and I'd've sworn they'd recorded it, but in websearching I can't find it listed as being on any of their recordings.
(Why does this website list only time of comment and not date?!!! It is Sunday, 8 March 2015.)

Neil app Jones said...

As Cymru goes for Dignity through Independence Ruthin-Boy, Hope-Jones' Song needs to reverberate once again......but not at Eton! Wake-up you Sleeping Giants of Cymru and Sing,............