A nationwide advertising Campaign, in the 1950s, invited members of the public to submit their own verse on this subject. The poem had to end with the phrase: 'There is no substitute for wool.' The competition attracted thousands of entries and many were later, illustrated and displayed above the escalators of the London Underground.
THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR WOOL
by The Public divider When Casanova went to town he always took his dressing-gown, His bedsocks and his knitted gloves, which mystified his lady-loves. One gentle temptress asked him why, quoth he with an experienced sigh, "Madam I used to catch all kinds of chills on those Venetian blinds, So learned this lesson in Love's School, there is no substitute for wool." divider Fair Venus surfaced from the spray, And not much work was done that day. The elders came, they turned bright pink. They coughed, they said: 'We really think Some well-placed wool would do no harm Indeed, it might enhance your charm. Besides, you'll find the nights are cool, There is no substitute for wool.' divider King Arthur's knights sat sullen-eyed 'What ails you all?' the monarch cried. Quoth one: "Tis this round table sire, "The lads out here can't feel the fire.' Quoth Guinevere: 'Poor faithful knights, I'll knit you all a pair of tights.' Which goes to prove the golden rule, There is no substitute for wool. divider Henry the Fifth at Agincourt, Outnumbered ten to one, we're taught, Licked the French with English bowmen Woollen-clad like country yeoman. The Frenchmen charging through the bogs Were hampered by their iron togs, And perished, proving once again, That "Rien ne remplace la laine' divider Judge Jeffreys felt extremely hot Beneath his ermine. 'Hang the lot,' He cried —although his inclination Had been to place them on probation. If only he had known the balm Of wool for comfort and for calm Then mercy might have been the rule. There is no substitute for wool. divider 'Regard, you scum,' cried Captain Bligh, 'Three months adrift, the shore is nigh.' He seized his log, "We owe salvation, To pluck and faultless navigation, To discipline and lack of gin And wearing wool against the skin.' The last a most essential rule, There is no substitute for wool! divider Lady Godiva, so they say, Had longer hair than Danny Kaye. It fell about her person fair, Concealing dainty underwear. A modest safeguard justified Throughout her cold but classic ride. For briefer garments when it's cool There is no substitute for wool. divider Pythagoras by stretching string Extended maths like anything. One day he tried some woollen strands, And stretched them gently in his hands. What perfect elasticity! 'It's just the very thing,'said he, 'To hold the shape of coat and wraps. I think I'm on to something, chaps. 'Let's teach this theorem at school' There is no substitute for wool.' divider Fair Helen was the Trojan's pin-up. Her beauty kept the nation's chin up. They say she was the only Spartan Whose nose in winter wasn't tartan. From smuggled fleece she spun her wraps Which kept her warm and pleased the chaps She knew the olden golden rule There is no substitute for wool. divider Yon canny Highland crofters keep A flock of crease-resistant sheep. They weave wee woollen shirts and slacks And flog 'em to the Sassenachs. Wool keeps its shape, it's bound to please, (Ye nae seen sheep wi' baggy knees) At birth bairns learn the Golden Rule, There's nae substitute for wool! divider The problem in a satellite Is where to put the cat at night For if you want your mind at ease How can you let poor Pussy freeze The answer reads on your computer A wooly overcoat will suit her From sheep to bleep all know the rule There's no substitute for wool! divider Anne Boleyn the Queen was sacked. She had her bags already packed And neatly marked in letters large“ The Bloody Tower by Royal Barge”. Her friends admired her savoir faire Until they missed their underwear, For Anne Boleyn was no one’s fool. There is no substitute for wool! divider An arrow pinned the sheriff's wig Against the wall he danced a jig. 'What gives this Robin Hood his nerve, his vim, his valour and his verve?' 'We know not, sir' they cried,'Unless It be his all wool battledress. In winter warm in summer cool there is no substitute for wool' divider Lord Nelson was an admiral bold Who beat the storms, the French, the cold Because of fleecy wool he clad Each jolly pig-tailed sailor lad And if one tar so much as coughed He had this signal run aloft 'Remember men, the Navy's rule, There is no substitute for Wool. divider Arriving for her pas-de-deux This ballerina caused a stir, For underneath a froth of white A pair of stockings came in sight. When challenged to explain her act She said, 'It's an undoubted fact These ballet tights are tutu cool, There is no substitute for wool.' divider When Rip Van Winkle stayed in bed His friends got anxious, 'Is he dead?' If not, could he withstand the chills Which blew around the Catskill Hills? But he outlived his friends and folk And when, year later, he awoke He smiled, his 'sleep-in-comfort' rule, There is no substitute for wool.' divider The badmen blanched and shook with fright When Wyatt Earp rode into sight, What was the secret of his power? What made the outlaws hide and cower? His inner glow that tamed the West Was due to woolly shirt and vest, So comforting where gunmen rule, There is no substitute for wool. divider What? Fly the Channel? Ho! ho! ho! The sceptics jeered at Bleriot, 'You'll freeze, mon ami, in that thing - You've nothing there but wire and string.' But icing caused him no distress; He flew in wool (how did you guess?) The rule for all who go by plane is 'Rien ne replace la laine' divider Let Captain Waterhouse be praised. Let monuments to him be raised. You never heard of him before? He swam to the Australian shore (Of all the immigrants the first). His act was bold and unrehearsed. He took no funds, he did not pack, But bore a sheep upon his back. Said he, 'Tomorrow mighty flocks Of sheep will keep the world in socks. The generations yet to be Will walk in comfort, thanks to me. So do not say I look a fool, There is no substitute for wool.' divider The early ape-men (Pliocene) Were men of squat and crouching mien. And yet... what fascinating brutes They might have looked in woollen suits! For wool can flatter, wool can mould, It dignifies with every fold. This truth all tailors learn at school, There is no substitute for wool. divider Said Jupiter; 'This peak is cold. More nectar, please! I'm growing old. What very foolish gods are we To shiver here eternally In fleecy clouds - while man below Wears fleecy wool. Come on, let's go!' The gods were wise to learn the rule, There is no substitute for wool. divider King Midas turned his goods to gold By touching them (or so we're told) The shimmer of his royal shirt Bedazzled ... but the garment hurt! The royal socks were just as rigid, And quite abominably frigid. The King forgot the golden rule, There is no substitute for wool. divider Macbeth surveyed the witches' pot (toads, entrails, bat, newt, frog - the lot) 'Ahem,' he coughed, apologetic, 'Tell me, is this a new synthetic?' 'Too right,' said Meg, 'And if it jells It should weave other things than spells; Highlander's underwear, if worn -?' Mac winked at her, then said with scorn; 'Forbye we don't, forbye we do - But 'gin we did, 't would aye be woo'' (There is no substitute for wool.) divider King John in one fell splash (or splosh) Lost bag and baggage in the Wash. His courtiers wept as all went down - The orb, the sceptre and the crown. 'Mere gems!' cried John. 'A fig for those! But, oh, my vest, pants, shirts and hose! If they are gone, I cannot rule, There is no substitute for wool.' divider As William Tell reached for his quiver He saw his son begin to shiver, 'Art frightened, lad, to face the arrow?' 'No dad, just frozen to the marrow.' They fixed him up with scarf and sweater, Then Will took aim again. 'That's better Lad,' said he, then whang the shot, The apple fell, the boy did not. Proving again the golden rule There is no substitute for wool.' divider Of Leonardo let us sing - The man who thought of everything, Of guns and gears and gyroscopes What joy he had with wheels and ropes! He brewed up dainty trinkets while He painted Gioconda's smile. In every art he had a hand, His workshop was a wonderland, And yet da Vinci lost no sleep Attempting to invent a sheep. He said, 'My friends, I'm no one's fool, There is no substitute for wool.' divider 'What weather,' shivered Master Will, 'Ye ink is frozen in my quill. I'm sure I'm getting 'sniff' atchoo'.. A dose of 16th Century flu.' Anne Hatherway produced a sweater, 'Ah! Wool!,' said Will, 'My word, that's better, By keeping warm, I'll play it cool, There is no substitute for wool.' divider Oh foolish, frantic men of Greece, To seek so long the golden fleece, To comb all corners of the earth For something of fictitious worth. If only Jason had been told The fleece that comforts is not gold! But now the whole world knows the rule, There is no substitute for wool.' divider When Jonah, deep inside the whale, Seemed cheerful, hearty, even hale, The whale said, visibly annoyed, 'But aren't you cold in that damp void?' Quoth Jonah, with a careless shrug, 'My wooly gown keeps me quite snug.' The whale impressed, told all his school, There is no substitute for wool.' divider Cried Cleopatra, curled up snug Within a fleecy royal rug; 'I'll cheat the hosts of Ptolemy! They can't keep me from Julius C!' 'Good show,' said Caesar, with a grin, 'I, too, like wool to travel in. My edict runs where're I rule, There is no substitute for wool.' divider The Rocket thundered up the track With fireworks streaming from its stack, The public took it somewhat hard - How tiresome to be chilled and charred. But Stephenson was on the ball, He issued woollen rugs to all. 'They're proof against both wind and flame,' He said. More honour to his name! The travel-wise endorse this rule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider Ancient Britons, blue with woad Mostly had a frightful 'coad' Hengist and Horsa, when they raided Clad in wool were doubtless aided In winning those Anglo-Saxon scuffles By being free from sniffs and snuffles. Proving the olden, golden rule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider The robbers pounced on Santa's sledge. Their teeth were very much on edge. When Santa saw their ragged shifts He took a bale marked 'Woollen Gifts' And gave each knave the wherewithal To shield his hide against the squall. How snug each thug! They blushed with shame And vowed they'd quit the hold-up game. Thus wool produced (and always will) Not only comfort but goodwill. The message rings from Yule to Yule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider Quoth Wenceslas to aged peasant, 'The night grows more and more unpleasant, I beg you, share my rich apparel Accept it please, don't spoil the carol.' So King and peasant onward hied With wool and friendship fortified Proving the olden, golden rule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider 'Man, dig that crazy square,' they breathed, When May grooved in, in woollies sheathed. 'A mouldy fig, no hipster she; A longhair of pure pedigree.' But May is gone, she hears them not Because her jive is really hot. She knows that when the music's cool: There is no substitute for Wool. divider When Brummel Beau, the swell of swells, Electrified the Brighton Bells, The prince would hover in the offing, Killing romance with fits of coughing. 'Another cold, Sire? Listen, do: To be well dressed, be wool dressed too. In elegance it is the rule: There is no substitute for Wool.' divider An electrician in a spin Was dear old Franklin (Benjamin). By dint of rubbing wool on glass He hoped that splendid sparks would pass. But wool is very little use (he found) for generating juice. Another thing: it won't attract Soot, grime and grit. Which simple fact Endears it to us. Mark this rule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider 'Quo vadis?' cried the palace guard. "Upstairs,' yelled Nero, running hard. 'My wardrobe must be saved tonight, Before the looters heave in sight. The blaze is cosy now,' said Nero, 'But mercury returns to zero And when the nights grow long and cool, There is no substitute for Wool.' divider When Socrates, that learned Greek, In ancient Athens used to speak, Midst Summer sun and Winter snows When all but he just boiled or froze, The rules of logic, laws of thought Were two things that he always taught. And added next the golden rule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider Columbus had a surly crew. Each day more menacing they grew. Yet spick and span and calm he stood And told them whoppers for their good, And tricked them with his Cheerful Chart. Columbus was a man apart. What kept him hale and confident From continent to continent? What nourished his immense resource? Columbus dressed in wool, of course. Explorers all observe the rule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider The bullies tried to roast Tom Brown. 'Confound you, put that youngster down,' Exclaimed the Head. 'The human frame Should never be exposed to flame. To keep out cold by day or night, Wear woollies - safe and warm and light.' And so they learned, at public school, There is no substitute for Wool. divider When Ministers begin to grouse At awkward questions in the House, When Politicians face distress At odd disclosures in the press We look for stuff of fitting size For pulling o'er our master's eyes. We then recall the golden rule: There is no substitute for Wool. divider Alas for Albert Hammel's dream! His horseless carriage sprayed out steam. How dankly did the moisture fall! A soggy time was had by all. What sneezes echoed through the land! But those of his historic band Who dressed in wool were never ill, For wool absorbs but does not chill, Which underlines the old, old rule: There is no substitute for Wool.
The end