Tuesday, 15 October 2019

A rather appropriate piece of poetry from my school days?

After the responses that I had yesterday to my blog entry about the latest issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES, I was suddenly put in mine of a piece of poetry I had to read when I was at secondary school during the 1960s. It was written by Lewis Carroll, and was entitled YOU ARE OLD, FATHER WILLIAM:

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door –
Pray, what is the reason of that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment – one shilling the box –
Allow me to sell you a couple?”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak –
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose –
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father; “don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you downstairs!”

Well, by that standards of the time when this poem was written in 1865, I am old. My hair is greying (I like to think that it gives me the look of someone who has a bit of gravitas!) and I am certainly fat ... although by modern standards, not uncommonly! (And I've never been able to back-somersault, even in my youth!) I can say that all my teeth are my own ... although some of them do come out at night and grin at me! As to the strength of my jaws being the result of 'discussions' with my wife ... well, I'll let her have the final word on that topic!

If I had the time or the ability, I might feel inclined to write an ageing wargamer's version of Lewis Carroll's poem, but I've got some 20mm-scale German Second World War figures on my worktable awaiting renovation ...


  1. Hi Bob,
    Well- I too am grey haired- though proud to say I've full is a good age to be in- the Over 60s ...having spent our youth in the 1960s and 70s is I feel something special- todays world is vastly different and for all it's Hi-Tech I don't believe things are necessarily better than back in the 1970s....being old now makes me more focused on what I consider important in regard to having a Hobby and achieving things- if now a little slowly- though surely- we still get things done and am happy about our lot. Cheers. KEV.

    1. Kev Robertson (Kev),

      Some things have got better, thanks to the improvements arising from technological developments. After all, we'd not be able to communicate like this without it!

      As I've aged, I've found that I don't need to rush getting things done, and that I can put a project to one side for a while to do something else. I'm also less concerned about trying to please anyone other than my self ... which is very liberating.

      All the best,


  2. I have been know to mutter a line or two to myself from time to time sometimes with my own improvised verses. No one seems to pay much attention.....

    1. Ross Mac,

      I understand that I've been know to sing whilst modelling ... although I don't realise that I'm doing it! Apparently my 'favourites' are THE BRITISH GRENADIERS, OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY, and HEARTS OF OAK ... or so I am told!

      All the best,


    2. I have a re-enactors’ parody of “over the hills” too. “To stand around in a field all day”. Available on request.

    3. Whiskers,

      It's an eminently parodible and adaptable song. After all, the version used in SHARPE was rewritten specially for the series, as the original dates back to the time of Queen Anne.

      All the best,


  3. Quite amusing poem about ageing wargamers from Elvis Macgonagall

    1. Mark, Man of TIN,

      Thanks for the link to this very amusing poem. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

      All the best,



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