Tom Padget


You’ll also find this on Vagabond the Spiers & Boden CD, given a lively treatment. Returning it here to an unaccompanied song, Jon also reverts to the racier lyrics. As he says, “From Lou Killen. Some debate as to the meaning of ‘doldrums’ – see Mudcat thread.” You’ll find that here and note Jon is an active participant in the thread. I can’t add to the Doldrums debate, so will leave you to draw your owninferences and conclusions…

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17 Responses to “Tom Padget”

  1. Simon Dewsbury says:

    I see that on the mudcat thread Jon suggests the doldrums might be something to do with some sort of dreadlocks, but I rather doubt the audience interprets it in that way when he sings it in a rowdy pub. A roaringly good version.

  2. Phil says:

    I don’t usually go for “O the happy life of the beggar” songs, but this really got under my skin. Excellent stuff.

  3. Stephen Harvey says:

    Another good’un. I also liked the Spiers&Boden version, which I thought had a slightly more sinister flavour – a little “Long Lankin”-ish, I thought. But I’ll have to go listen to that version again to see if that impression remains.

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    Now this one does do it for me! First, you sang it fabulously, Jon. Then the body of the song really tickles my fancy! I think the chorus beggar part is less the nub of the song than that central tale between the main characters. The suggestiveness is just superb. I’m close to voting for this one! Oh, rats! I can’t!

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    I so enjoyed this one again, and especially the Mudcat discussion, in which I see Jon and Muzza took part, to name but two! It led to me researching ‘doldrums’ at a new, suitably low level of language by trying to find old-fashioned slang terms for male anatomy in case ‘doldrums’ was a mondegreen! No luck there, but plenty of hilarity!

    Whether ‘doldrums’ refers to the old meaning of dull, stupid, down in the dumps, or a ship stymied or the actual geographical location may depend on when the song was written.

    In the 19th century, ‘doldrum’ was a word meaning ‘dullard; a dull or sluggish fellow’ and this probably derived from ‘dol’, meaning ‘dull’ with its form taken from ‘tantrum’. That is, as a tantrum was a fit of petulance and passion, a doldrum was a fit of sloth and dullness, or one who indulged in such. The term was used to mean ‘a general state of low spirits’ in the early 19th century.

    In 1824, Lord Byron used the phrase in a nautical context in the verse tale ‘The Island’:

    “From the bluff head where I watch’d to-day, I saw her in the doldrums; for the wind Was light and baffling.”
    [Note: baffling winds are those which are shifting and variable, making progress under sail impossible.]

    ‘In the doldrums’ came to refer specifically to sailing ships that were becalmed and unable to progress.

    The region now called the ‘The Doldrums’ wasn’t named until the mid-19th century and the naming came about as the result of a misapprehension. When reports of ships that were becalmed in that equatorial region described them as being ‘in the doldrums’, it was mistakenly thought that the reports were describing their location rather than their state. The earliest known reference to the region’s name in print is Matthew Maury’s ‘The Physical Geography Of The Sea,’ 1855:

    “The ‘equatorial doldrums’ is another of these calm places. Besides being a region of calms and baffling winds, it is a region noted for its rains.”

    If the song’s meaning relates to the former definition, ‘doldrums’ may refer to Tom Paget’s look of low spirits – a sad seductive ploy, I’m sure! – but clearly there is innuendo.

    If ‘doldrums’ derives from the later meaning of ‘the region of calm winds, centered slightly north of the equator and between the two belts of trade winds, which meet there and neutralise each other’ there’s enough innuendo in that description alone if we are talking below the belt!

    So I’m not inclined towards the idea that equatorial waves = dreadlocks, as opposed to bol-locks (which word actually has many uses and meanings if you look it up in Wiki!) ‘Doldrums’ just sounds so suggestive! Loved the whole of this entry… perhaps I should have rephrased that…

  6. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    @Jane………..thank you Jane……..I now conclude that my “lovelife” is in the nautical Doldrums and the only hope of any action in
    ‘the region of calm winds, centered slightly north of the equator and between the two belts of trade winds, which meet there and neutralise each other’ a damn good Vindaloooooo!

  7. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: You’ll understand if I don’t hold that thought, other than to say ‘calm’ and ‘vindaloo’ are not words I would normally associate together. However, I am a Bradfud lass and therefore habituated to curry without any unfortunate outcomes, but I would advise that Tom Padget’s doldrums are a better ploy with women than your idea of ‘action’ in getting the love life back on track.

    Having said that, and continuing with the theme of folk innuendo – not the Italian pharmaceutical, but the American kind – Hank Williams did write a song called ‘Settin’ The Woods On Fire.’ Part of the lyrics are:

    “We’ll order up two bowls of chilli
    Settin’ the woods on fire.

    I’ll gas up my hot rod stoker
    We’ll get hotter than a poker
    You’ll be broke, but I’ll be broker
    Tonight we’re settin’ the woods on fire.”

    Now that’s inn-u-end-o! (With thanks to fabulously funny Kinky Friedman’s ‘A Case Of Lone Star’ which I’m currently reading.) I, of course, have rescue cats… that effectively takes over yer lovelife! Hahaha!

  8. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    @Jane.thanks for the “Hank link”…………..great little song….your excerpt above gave me the wrong idea,completely, of what he was singin’ about.

    I’ll fire up my old citroen,
    That’ll get my best gal goin’,
    hope to hell my age aint showin’
    If I git’s that far!

  9. Nickc says:

    The Spiers and Boden version of this song really got under my skin too. A ravishing version that makes me want to discover a little more English Folk.

  10. Diana says:

    I think this a great one – have got it on “Vagabond” and again I like the musical accompaniment on that CD. Are we any wiser as to what the doldrums referred to actually are? I know about being becalmed etc. but cannot for the life of me relate that to Tom Padget’s ones.

  11. Simon says:

    Jane thanks for all the usual diligent research regarding puddings, most entertaining. I guess the simile has to do with rising or swelling or firming up during cooking, which I suppose covers both ends of the spectrum. As for Tom Padget and his particular ‘spectrum end’, the only sensible thing I can come up with is that the doldrums became associated with undesirable places, as well as simply being becalmed at sea. So I posit that for ‘doldrums’ here, you can read undesirables.

  12. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Skyman: “I guess the simile has to do with rising or swelling or firming up during cooking, which I suppose covers both ends of the spectrum.” – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Ref ‘doldrums,’ ‘undesirables’ or ‘undesirable places/parts’ gives audience imagination a lot of scope in translation. If we are talking bol-locks (which I am frequently accused of, as well as French elocution and being bat-sh1t bonkers!) the term ‘unmentionables’ sprang to my mind – wouldn’t it just! Perhaps not such a good translation of the word ‘doldrums,’ tho it may suit the sense, so I came back to good old ‘nethers’ again! That at least has a ‘doldrummy’ connotation, tho I am getting the impression ‘what lies beneath’ was anything but always downward! His duff was most definitely often on the up! (Or at least, his hopes!)

    The fourteen inches referred to, which inclined Jon to think of dreadlocks, still does not convince me. Everyone knows exaggeration in these matters is to be expected!

  13. Ray Padgett says:

    Have a look at Mark Dowdings recordings of this one sung by Harry Boardman also


  14. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Whoo…… Hoo…….knew Our Jane used such words! i.e. Bol….Bat….!!!!!

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    Happy Yorkshire Day!

    Well, practically in the doldrums missen. Not so much becalmed as exhausted. I have had roofers. (Sounds like some dread disease!) Three of them to be precise, tho one was on crutches… fell off his ladder & broke his leg in three places, so had a pot on. Hardly a good advert! Still, I’ve had mi slates replaced, gutters cleaned & mi coping stones & chimney pots safely cemented in. Cost me a small fortune.

    Jon’s rendition of this song cheered me up no end though. I have given the words some more thought. Perhaps the doldrums refers to the undesired inactivity of Tom Paget’s bodily parts (which, for the record, I think are wholly exaggerated in proportion, whichever precise nether region ‘doldrums’ refers to!)

    My finances are in the doldrums now. Anyone got a magic wand to wave over them, Muzzy?

  16. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Whoa Janey, Seems I need someone to wave a magic wand over MY doldrums ( snarf, snarf) and as for roofer breaking leg in three places…was that Bradford, Skipton and keithly?…’s hoping for some urgent activity in the westerlies regardig your finances!

  17. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    Ladies…….you have been warned…beware a smelly, tattered old Man with a long stick in his hand!
    Hey…this ANOTHER rude song!!!!……..

    Of all the trades going it’s in the begging I take great delight.
    For my rent it is paid as I lay down my bags for the night.
    And my rent it is paid as I take a long stick in my hand.
    And at night I will please the fair maidens as best as I can.

    Oh, I walked the long day ’til I came to some rich farmer’s house;
    and I knocked on the door like some poor fool left lately without –
    without eating or drinking, for twenty long hours or more.
    And I said, ‘Kind madam, will you pray for and remember the poor?’

    ‘If it’s alms that you want, you shall get them old man,’ she said.
    But before she gave pennies, she ran to her mother upstairs.
    ‘Oh mammy, oh mammy! There is a strange man in the hall!
    Stay close to your chamber, for I fear he will ravish us all!’

    But her mother did scuff her, and call her a silly young fool.
    To have any such notion, about that poor man in the hall.
    For his clothes were in tatters, and his britches torn behind and before.
    And his doldrums (sic?) hung down a good foreteen long inches or more.

    ‘Oh Tom Padget,’ she said, ‘Why don’t you go and work for your bread?
    For some rich farmer and be decently clothed and fed.’
    ‘To plough and sow madam, I’m afraid I have but little skill.
    But I’ll plough that small furrow that lies at the foot of your hill.’

    ‘Oh Tom Padget!’ she said, ‘Now if you and I could but agree;
    I would make you the steward, of all of my lands for to be.
    And we’d eat at one table, and we’d sleep on a soft bed of down.
    If only I could have you, Tom Padget of Killaloe town.’

    And of all the trades going it’s in the begging I take great delight.
    For my rent it is paid as I lay down my bags for the night.
    And my rent it is paid as I take a long stick in my hand.
    And at night I will please the fair maidens as best as I can.

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