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In the 1950s, this advertising campaign was the brainchild of the International Wool Secretariat in London, today's Woolmark Company.
Members of the public were invited to submit short poems depicting historical events, each ending with the sentence 'There is no substitute for wool'. The public responded magnificently and commuters were entertained by a series of amusing, sometimes risque' and informative historical vignettes. Famous cartoonists of the period such as Kenneth Mahpod (still a great favourite in the Mail), William Hewison and Bruce Petty were hired to illustrate the pieces, and the campaign sparked such an intelligent and memorable response that I'm surprised we havent seen anything similar since.

Charles Legge, Daily Mail - January 2008

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THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR WOOL

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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."

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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.'

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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.

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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'

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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.

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'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!

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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.

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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.'

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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.

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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!

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The problem in a satelite
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!

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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!

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With thanks to 'Robin', via the message board, for this next one.

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'

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Another big thanks to 'Flavia' for forwarding all the following verses.

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.

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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.'

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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.'

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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.

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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'

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Let Captain Waterhouse be praised.
Let monuments to him be raised.
You never heard if 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.'

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.'

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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.'

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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.'

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'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.'

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'The fire that blazed in Pudding Lane
Is out,' mused Pepys, 'It's chill again,
Methinks I'll take the wife's wool dress -
'Twill bring some poor wench cosiness.'
He straightway in his dairy wrote
*=>?<&%@8) (I quote)
Which meant in Pepys's shorthand school,
There is no substitute for wool.'

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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.'

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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.'

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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.'

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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'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.

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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.'

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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.

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'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.'

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
 
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