Sunday, 15 December 2013

Daisy Roots

A song about a pair of boots ("daisy roots" as my grandfather John Cawdery would have called them in his Cockney rhyming slang). But this is not just about his boots but the boots - and roots - of many of my ancestors and the roads they trod.

Daisy Roots

When these old boots had soles, my boys,
They walked the country round
From Cornwall to Northumberland
And on the Scottish ground
Just like some wayward vagabond 
Or like some Irish rover
They tramped about in search of work
From Liverpool to Dover.*
And they don't make 'em like that any more.

When these old boots had soles, my boys,
They never thought to shirk
Rose early every morning, boys, 
And they tramped their way to work
They carted coal round London town
And navvied on the line**
They walked the ground behind the plough
And down the dark coal mine.
And they don't make 'em like that any more.

When these old boots had soles, my boys,
They marched to foreign lands
With brothers, fathers, uncles
And a mil-i-tary band
The drums were beat so loudly
And the bugles they were blown
Till one rainy April morning
They came limping home alone
And they don't make 'em like that any more.

When these old boots had soles, my boys,
They danced the whole night through
On flagstone floors in many a pub
They beat a fine tattoo
If someone played the fiddle, boys,
These boots would never rest
To a good old Yarmouth hornpipe tune
They stepped it with the best.
But they don't make 'em like that any more.

Now these old boots have holes, my boys,
The leather's worn right through,
The missus says to chuck 'em out
But that I'll never do
They walked a land I'll never know
'cos these old boots ain't mine
No, these are granddad's "daisy roots"
And he's been gone some time.
And they don't make 'em like that any more.
* the last two lines of this verse are lifted directly from an old comic song my mother sings called Paddy And The Rope (And they don't write 'em like that any more.) 

** the men who built the railways and canals in England were known as Navvies or Navigators.

Take care.


  1. Some of those daisy roots would have made their way to Canada where they traveled to logging camps, or virgin forest waiting to be turned into farms or fishing villages on the ocean coasts. Sturdy boots on the feet of sturdy men. Got music to go with your verse? Perhaps you could play your squeezebox and sing along and post a video.

    1. You've got it exactly, Jenny, they went all over the world. yes, I've got a tune but as yet I can't play it very well!

  2. I agree with Jack, you do have a talent!

  3. Boots have tales to tell as do other parts of clothing we wear. Liked the song -- would have liked to hear your mother sing it -- barbara

  4. I'd love to have heard this sung. Evocative, fun, and super-creative!

  5. very well thought out; lovely creativity happening John

  6. That's so well done. I'd love to hear it sung or read out loud. Wonderful.

  7. ---I can almost hear the tune-I'm not musically gifted though
    it would be nice if you could put it on you tube for us

  8. I read it aloud and LOVED the rhythm. Very well done!

  9. We have stolen - oops! I mean adopted - rhyming slang downunder, but I'd never heard of Daisy Roots before! Love the saying and LOVE the poem!!

    1. I've just looked up rhyming slang on Wiki and it seems that your rhymes are different ones to ours. I might just do a post on slang some day.

  10. Excellent - bit of a history (and some geography) lesson in there too.


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