On your tod, your pat and your jack…

Being on your own can be a positive or a negative thing, and most people like having some own-time, but dislike being lonely. There are several phrases and expressions meaning to be on your own, and there are three rhyming slang versions. The sort of being alone alluded to in the slang phrases is the sort of alone that most people don’t want, where they might feel abandoned or left behind or left out, and to be lonely and maybe isolated.

I’ve written about James Todhunter ‘Tod’ Sloan, the successful American jockey who inspired ‘on your tod’, and the Irishman, Pat Malone in a song by Banjo Paterson, who tried to farm the outback in Australia, with little success and returned home to Ireland,  ‘on your pat’, and there is a third slang rhyme, ‘on your jack’, or ‘on your Jack Jones’.

This is another example of a song which is now long forgotten, living on through one of or part of its lyric. This was a music hall song entitled ‘’E Dunno Where ’E Are’. It was written by Fred Eplett who was one of the first of the Grand Order of Water Rats and a contemporary of Dan Leno. In case you were wondering, the Grand order of Water rats is a benevolent and charitable organisation whose members are exclusively connected with the world of theatre, stage and show business.

Going back to Jack Jones – not the American singer who was born in 1938, the son of another well-known American singer, Allan Jones – but the Jack Jones of the song which was made famous by Gus Elen a very popular music hall singer – the song tells the story of Jack Jones, a  Covent Garden market porter who somehow came into some money, and was no longer interested in his old friends. According to the song he now calls his mother ‘ma’ instead of ‘muvver’ and he stands on his own in the bar drinking Scotch and soda.

Jack Jones in the song is stand-offish, and unfriendly but the saying ‘on your jack’ usually implies that the lone person is lonely and forgotten.

’E Dunno Where ’E Are

Jack Jones is well known to everybody,
Round about the market, don’t yer see
I’ve no fault to find wiv Jack at all
When ‘e’s as ‘e used to be
But somehow, since ‘e’s ‘ad the bullion
Left ‘e ‘as altered for the wust
When I see the way ‘e treats old pals
I am filled wiv nothing but disgust
‘E sez as ‘ow we isn’t class enuf
‘E sez we ain’t upon a par
Wiv ‘im just because ‘e’s better off
Won’t smoke a pipe, must take on a cigar

Chorus: When ‘e’s up at Covent Garden
You can see ‘im standin’ all alone
Won’t join in a quiet Tommy Dodd
Drinking Scotch and Sodas on ‘is own
‘E ‘as the cheek and impidence to call
‘Is muvver ‘is ma
Since Jack came into a little bit of splosh
Why, ‘e don’t know who ‘e are

Wears boots as pinches up ‘is awk’ard feet
I’ve seen ‘im in a collar and tie
When I saw ‘e’d got a diamond pin
Felt as if I’d like to die
‘E drives up in an ‘ansom every day
Tho’ ‘e’s big enough to walk
Speaks as though ‘e was a Colonel Norf
Nearly makes yer ill to ‘ear ‘im talk
One day I saw ‘im wiv a top-‘at on
‘E said ‘e’d bought anuvver fer ‘is pa
Wears gloves and no mistake they’re kid
Which shows the josser don’t know where ‘e are.

Chorus: When ‘e’s up at Covent Garden
You can see ‘im standin’ all alone
Won’t join in a quiet Tommy Dodd
Drinking Scotch and Sodas on ‘is own
‘E ‘as the cheek and impidence to call
‘Is muvver ‘is ma
Since Jack came into a little bit of splosh
Why, ‘e don’t know who ‘e are

Another tart

Another tart recipe I had never come across… Congress tart; the recipe I have is for a very plain version – but apparently, on investigation there are much richer versions using desiccated coconut, ground almonds, beaten egg whites… and some people serve them with cream or ice-cream.

Apparently congress tarts are a speciality from Cornwall, and according to something I read the name dates back to 1648 and the end of the Thirty Years War;  a congress was held in Osnabrück,  as well as in and Münster, and everyone who attended was given a sort of macaroon tart marked with a pastry cross.

Here is the rather plain recipe I have:

  • shortcrust pastry
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 3 oz butter or margarine
  • 3 oz ground rice
  • a few drops of almond essence (not flavouring)
  • 1 egg
  1. line a patty tin with cut out circles of pastry, reserving a small amount
  2. cream the butter and sugar
  3. add the ground rice and the egg and mix well and add the essence
  4. fill the little tarts with the mixture
  5. using the left over pastry, make crosses for each tart
  6. bake for 15-20 mins at gas mark 6, 400° F, 200° C
  7. cool on a wire rack before serving with a nice cup of tea

A lovely stream



A Rivulet

It is a lovely stream; its wavelets purl
As if they echoed to the fall and rise
Of the capricious breeze; each upward curl
That splashes pearl, mirrors the fairy eyes
Of viewless passer, and the billows hurl
Their sparkles on her lap, as over she flies
And see, where onward whirls, within a ring
Of smoothest dimples, a dark foxglove bell
Half stifled by the gush encircling;
Perchance some tiny sprite crawled to that shell
To sleep away the noon, and winds did swing
Him into rest; for the warm sun was well
Shaded off by the long and silky down;
So I will save it, lest the elf should drown.

Thomas Lovell Beddoes


Bhugias… aka bhaji

British people have been in love with spices and spiced food for far longer than most people think; even before spices were commonplace, people loved eating hot and fiery stuff such as watercress, mustard and horseradish. What is commonly called ‘Indian’ food, which comes in actual fact from many different countries, and with a wonderful and exciting range of regional variations, has been appearing in recipe books almost from the very fist collections of recipes were gathered together.

Here is a hundred year old recipe for bhugias, which we would call bhajis:

  • 5 oz flour
  • 2 tsps finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped cooked cabbage
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ salt
  • 2 eggs throughly beaten
  • deep fat for frying
  1. mix all the dry ingredients except the baking powder really well together
  2. mix in the eggs, really well
  3. lastly add the baking powder just before frying
  4. drop the mixture a teaspoonful at a time into the smoking hot fat
  5. cook until brown and nicely swollen
  6. drain on kitchen paper and serve very hot

The recipe doesn’t actually mention kitchen paper, I guess a hundred years ago they would have used a cloth.

This nameless bird

The translation of the title is, ‘Your heavenly Father feeds them’, and maybe it is no surprise that Robert Hawker was a clergyman. he was born in 1803 in Plymouth and was a Cornishman through and through. He is not well-known at all, and yet his famous song  The Song of the Western Men, with its well-known line  ‘And shall Trelawny die? / Here’s twenty thousand Cornish men / will know the reason why!’ is almost a Cornish anthem. He was only twenty-two when he wrote it and he went on to write many more poems.

In his time he was well-known for burying drowned seamen, if he hadn’t they may have just been left for the sea to take them again or be given an unmarked burial on the beach. He also introduced the idea of harvest thanksgiving, which is such an important  festival in the church today.

Pater Vester Pascit Illa

Our bark is on the waters! wide around
The wandering wave; above, the lonely sky:
Hush! a young sea-bird floats, and that quick cry
Shrieks to the levelled weapon’s echoing sound:
Grasp its lank wing, and on, with reckless bound!
Yet, creature of the surf, a sheltering breast
To-night shall haunt in vain thy far-off nest,
A call unanswered search the rocky ground.
Lord of Leviathan! when Ocean heard
Thy gathering voice, and sought his native breeze;
When whales first plunged with life, and the proud deep
Felt unborn tempests heave in troubled sleep,
Thou didst provide, even for this nameless bird,
Home and a natural love amid the surging seas.

Robert Stephen Hawker