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

3 thoughts on “On your tod, your pat and your jack…

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