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Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom

29 Oct 03 - 03:21 PM (#1044008)
Subject: Origins: Who wrote the following song
From: Jazzcat

Hi there
Does anyone know who composed the song The Hole in the elephants bottom?
This is needed for a CD that we are creating with proceeds going to the blind dogs association in the UK.
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Cheers


29 Oct 03 - 04:07 PM (#1044031)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Charley Noble

The song's been around since at least the 1930's, in various forms. What lyrics are you using?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


29 Oct 03 - 06:52 PM (#1044132)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Jazzcat

Not sure which of the lyrics are being used - An popular Jazz artist in the UK Tommy Burton sadly died some time ago and an old tape of his has been produced on CD with the proceeds going to the Guide Dogs which was one of Tommy's charities and we should acknowledge the composer on the CD but are unable to trace him/her.
Thanks
Jazz Cat


29 Oct 03 - 09:07 PM (#1044227)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Tyke

I have found a version of this song in The Official Book of Bawdy Ballads First published in Great Britain by Futura Publications Limited in 1979 (ISBN 0 7088 1619 3) Composer is given credit in this compilation however the complation is copyright Futura Publications Limited 1979
Futura Publications Limited
110 Warner Road
Camberwell
London
SE5

Due to possible Copyright issues I'll PM the version used in this complation


30 Oct 03 - 04:09 AM (#1044355)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Steve Parkes

I've heard it attributed to Harry Champion, but I can't give you anything to back that up. You could try the British Music Hall Society.

Steve


30 Oct 03 - 05:42 AM (#1044374)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: GUEST,banjoman

I always thought this song was from the age of the Music Hall as one of the verses refers to walking down the Strand and meeting the Knig & Queen and shaking the King's hand thro' the Hole in the Elephant's Bottom.
Its a great song and always sure to get an audience laughing.
Is the Tommy Burton mentioned above the same one who was a regular on Pebble Mill at One?


30 Oct 03 - 08:54 AM (#1044461)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Charley Noble

The manuscript I have is from a draft of Christopher Logue's BOOK OF BAWDY BALLADS subsequently published in 1962. He was editing a collection from his old "friend" Count Palmiro Vicarion.

The last verse is clearly of WW II vintage:

Should the Japs make an attack,
Then hundreds of bombs - they will drop 'em,
But we'll keep 'em at bay with an Oerliken gun
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

No reference to the King and the Queen or the Strand.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


30 Oct 03 - 10:07 AM (#1044516)
Subject: DTADD: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: BanjoRay

Has anyone got a full set of verses they could let us all have? I have a probably incomplete version I learned in the 60s - I performed it at my Wedding party in '74.

Here's what I still remember:

The Hole In The Elephant's Bottom

I wanted to go on the stage
But at acting I simply was rotten
Now in pantomime I'm all the rage
As the hole in the elephant's bottom

Chorus
Ai, Ai, Ai-Ai
Ai, Ai, Ai-Ai-Ai
Over valley and hill there is no greater thrill
Than the hole in the elephants bottom

Now the eyes they are made of brown glass
Ventilation's completely forgotten
But you'd be surprised at the wind that can pass
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom

Oh there's plenty of room down inside
For bottles of beer if you've got 'em
The audience laugh as I blow off the froth
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom

Oh the audience think me a wit (suitable emphasis here!)
As they sit in the stalls I can spot 'em
And I wink at the girls in the pit
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom

A lady she chased after me
She said "You're a star, I can spot 'em"
I said "No Lady, thanks, I'm not Douglas Fairbanks
I'm the hole in the elephant's bottom"

Now I don't have to learn any words
There's no script to get quickly forgotten
I just sit in the back shoving property turds
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom

Cheers
Ray


30 Oct 03 - 05:36 PM (#1044818)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE HOLE IN THE ELEPHANT'S BOTTOM
From: Fred (Beetle) Bailey

The version by Count Palmiro Vicarion, see the reference above, goes as follows, but with no melody or attribution:

My ambitions's to go on the stage,
From this you can see that I've got 'em
In pantomime I'm all the rage,
I'm the hole in the elephant's bottom.

Oh! The girls all think that I'm it,
As they sit in the stalls I can spot 'em,
And I wink at the girls in the pit
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

One night we performed in a farce
And they stuffed up the bottom with cotton,
But it split and I showed my bare arse
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

There are pockets inside in the cloth
For two bottles of Bass, if you've got 'em.
But they hiss and they boo when I blow out the froth
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

Now my part hasn't got any words
But there's nothing that can't be forgotten,
I spent all my time pushing property turds
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

Some may think that this story is good
And some may believe that it's rotten,
But those that don't like it can stuff it right up
The hole in the elephant's bottom.

Should the Japanese make an attack,
Then hundreds of bombs -- they will drop 'em,
But we'll keep 'em at bay with an Oerliken gun
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.




enjoy!!


30 Oct 03 - 05:52 PM (#1044829)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Charley Noble

Bettle-

Exactly! I really didn't have time this morning to type up the whole thing.

Now I am curious about earlier versions if people would like to post them.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


31 Oct 03 - 07:38 AM (#1045187)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: GUEST

Would someone ABC the tune?


31 Oct 03 - 12:55 PM (#1045372)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Richard Bridge

Skinners Rats do this - might be on thier website or you could email them at that site.


30 Jan 04 - 03:40 PM (#1105398)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: GUEST,Paul Reade

I resurrected this song a couple of years ago - I used to sing it in the 70's. I couldn't remember all of the verses so I added one:-

Well I've played it all over the world
And productions, I can direct 'em
In Stratford on Avon I'm billed
As the Hole in the Pachyderm's Rectum

Also, there was a last verse that no-one else seems to have included:-

Well now we've reached the last verse
It's as different as chalk is from charcoal
And just for a laugh we'll sing the last line
Through the elephant's (Chorus)


31 Jan 04 - 02:34 PM (#1106026)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Billy Weeks

This is a mock music hall song which I think probably dates from the mid twentieth century. Roy Hudd sings it and has recorded it (sorry, no details).


31 Jan 04 - 02:48 PM (#1106036)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: breezy

Paul's version is lacking in finesse



a verse for Noble

I learned it at the Bromley folk club during the 60 s at the Star and Garter. saw Diz. Alex. John James

never knew who the residents were though

here tis

my landlady made sandwiches for me    tra la la
But I went out and forgot 'em       tra la la
So at matinee, she eases a tray
through the hole.......

nyaa nyaa nyanyanyanyanyanya


and if ever the Russians attack
with megaton bombs and she drops em
you'll run to your shelters, but you know where I'll go
Up the Hole......


20 Jul 04 - 06:00 AM (#1229690)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Mr Happy

I wanted to be on the stage,
And now my ambitions I've gottem!
In my grey pantaloons I'm the rage
I'm the hole in the elephant's bottom!

My friends all think I'm a wit,
In their seats in the stalls I can spot 'em!
And I wink at the girls in the pit
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom!

Last night I had some bad luck,
The manager said I was rotten!
Cos I happened to get my head stuck
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom!

My part it is not very large,
But nor is it easy forgotten.
If you're looking for me come and look
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom!


20 Jul 04 - 06:31 AM (#1229707)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Billy the Bus

A verse from NZ in the 50s...

Twas awfully dark onme night after the show
As we went to our digs at West Tottham,
So to light up the night I shone a red light,
Through the hole...

Cheers - Sam


20 Jul 04 - 10:24 AM (#1229818)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: GUEST,Lindsay

I've got this in a paperback book of rude Rugby Songs, and I also heard Dave Townsend of Eynsham Morris sing it at one of their dance-outs


20 Jul 04 - 01:01 PM (#1229954)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Big Al Whittle

hugh Grant did a version recently on the In the Actors Studio series on Performance or Biography - or one of those channels


21 Jul 04 - 02:25 AM (#1230460)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: GUEST

Just another verse for you, if you dont have it

Ho tiger skins I have a lot
And on my wall I have a got em
For tigers don't expect to be shot
Through the hole in the elephants bottom


14 Aug 06 - 12:39 PM (#1809560)
Subject: Lyr Req: the elephants bottom
From: fogie

I was saddened to see that the words of this erudite song are no included in the DT -who can right this wrong?- The hole in the elephants bottom.


14 Aug 06 - 12:49 PM (#1809568)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Joe Offer

Well, it probably won't go into the DT until we have a tune for it. Can anybody transcribe a MIDI I can post? Of course, John Mehlberg has an MP3 of it at immortalia.com
-Joe Offer-
joe@mudcat.org


14 Aug 06 - 01:30 PM (#1809591)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: Bert

Fred,

your verse

There are pockets inside in the cloth
For two bottles of Bass, if you've got 'em.
But they hiss and they boo when I blow out the froth
Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

I learned the third line as

They boo and they hiss as I shake out the - froth


19 Aug 06 - 10:56 AM (#1813768)
Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
From: GUEST

Here are my recordings of "The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom".

Field Recordings:

  • Archie Tawney
  • Commercial Recordins:

  • Chris Hart
  • Derek Lamb
  • Sportsdic Records
  • The Second Eleven
  • Unknown
  •  

    .


    19 Aug 06 - 11:00 AM (#1813770)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: John M.

    Sorry about that. That post was by me. I thought I was signed in but Firefox got rid of my cookie.

    The field recording by Archie Tawney in 2002 states that he learned the song in 1927 when he was 7 years old.


    Yours,

    John Mehlberg


    19 Aug 06 - 08:27 PM (#1814144)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Uke

    The Roy Hudd version version of this song was recorded for a 1976 LP which was re-released in 1999 as a CD: 'Those Music Hall Days' (Pulse PLS CD 346). Most of the songs have writer credits, 'Elephant's Bottom' one has 'Trad.'. Roy Hudd says he learnt it at his grandmother's knee!


    20 Aug 06 - 12:08 AM (#1814225)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Bob Bolton

    G'day Joe Offer,

    I'm not sure whether the fact that nobody wants to transcribe this song should appal me ... or redeem my poor opinion of general Mudcat taste ... Anyway, a band I played with in the '70s (Rouseabouts) did this on a number off occasions when i was not able the get away ... and our tune has been burned into my grey cells. I also checked John Mehlberg's recording of Archie Tawney -the only one of 3 that successfully downloaded - and that seems to be ... more or less ... the tune I remember.

    Here is the ABC format of the tune (in C - roughly where I would sing it):

    ABC format:


    X:1

    T:

    M:2/4

    Q:1/4=120

    K:C

    G6G2|G4EE3|E4DC3|E8|-E6G2|G4EE3|E4DC3|A4D4|

    -D6G2|G4EE3|E4DC3|F8|A6A2|G4GG3|F4ED3|D4C4|

    -C3||



    I'll send the MIDI file to MMario.

    Enjoy ... ?

    Regards,

    Bob


    20 Aug 06 - 04:40 AM (#1814285)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Mr Happy

    an alternative version of a verse given previuosly:

    Some may think that this story is good,
    And some may believe that it's rotten,
    But if youfre one of those,
    You can go shove your nose,
    Up the hole in the elephant's bottom.


    20 Aug 06 - 11:13 AM (#1814439)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Charley Noble

    Bob-

    I'm sure I've heard somewhere that this fine old song was first discovered in an old...














    trunk.

    Cheerily,
    Charley Noble


    20 Aug 06 - 08:31 PM (#1814738)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Bob Bolton

    G'day Charlie,

    Well ... at least that was the right end of the system - things may have gone downhill, as it were, as it underwent natural processing!

    Have you had a listen to my version of the tune? I only supplied the ABC component of the old "No longer supported by Mudcat" MIDItext file ... but you can drop the ABC into various sites to convert to "dots" ... or play back (... and convert to MIDI ... ?) - and MMmario may get it into Mudcat MIDIs ... one day.

    Regard(les)s,

    Bob

    Click to play


    21 Aug 06 - 02:00 AM (#1814858)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Joe Offer

    Bob e-mailed me a MIDI - thanks, Bob.
    -Joe Offer-

    Click to play


    21 Aug 06 - 09:13 AM (#1815058)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Bob Bolton

    G'day Joe & all,

    Well ... I guess that after only 3 months short of 3 years we really had to have the tune put to bed!

    Listening back to the MIDI, I probably should say that the strict time is only an approximation of performance "tempo".

    I don't think I can write the musical directions in a simple MIDI ... this one should really be annotated "molto rubato" ... the tune has a distinct oddity in that, instead of the final note(s) of the third line picking up the first word(s) of the last line, the whole last bar is a 'held' rendition of the words before "... hole in the elephant's bottom".

    It's an odd form (at least, as I learned it) but it seems to be a very "music hall" device. Perform it as it seems to work for you!

    Regards,

    Bob


    01 Nov 07 - 07:14 PM (#2184617)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: GUEST,Carole Taylor

    Yet another verse circa 1960,
    My landlady brings me my meals
    But one day she went and forgot 'em
    So now I take tea
    After each matinee
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.


    02 Nov 07 - 09:10 AM (#2184939)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: GUEST,BobL

    We played at the Royal Command,
    Their Majesties, I could just spot 'em,
    And the National Anthem sounds grand [pronounced so it rhymes!]
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.


    [This one from David Blagrove]
    There were two little kids in the stalls,
    And I could have cheerfully shot 'em
    Throughout the whole show they kept blowing dried peas
    At the hole in the elephant's bottom


    02 Nov 07 - 02:06 PM (#2185162)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Tradsinger

    Here's my contribution to scholarship, learnt from a Sussex singer over 40 years ago.

    I wanted to go on the stage,
    But the parts that they gave me were rotten
    In Pantomime I was the rage
    As the hole in the Elephant's bottom

    Tra la la la la la, tra la la la la la.

    The inside is lined up with shelves
    For bottles of bass if you've got'em
    But the audience ain't partial to me blowing the froth
    Out the hole in the elephant's bottom.

    Now my landlady makes sandwiches for me,
    But one day I forgot 'em
    Halfway through the matinee they passed them on a tray
    Up the hole in the elephant's bottom.

    If the Russians should ever attack
    With their megaton bombs and they drop them
    You can keep your fallout shelters, I know where I'll be
    Up the hole in the elephant's bottom.

    Now some people sends me fan mail
    And other they sends me a parcel
    The postman delivers it care of the stage
    And the hole in the elephant's bottom.

    Now some people don't like this song
    Others will think that it's rotten
    But them as don't like it can go stuff their heads
    Up the hole in the elephant's bottom.

    Shakespeare.


    03 Nov 07 - 09:46 AM (#2185604)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The hole in the elephants bottom
    From: Mr Happy

    A lady she chased after me
    She said "You're a star, I can spot 'em"
    I said "No Lady, thanks,
    You see I'm not Tom Hanks,
    I'm the hole in the elephant's bottom"


    24 Sep 09 - 08:43 AM (#2730353)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Mr Happy

    One night in a provincial hall
    On the end of a long piece of cotton
    I dangled the elephant's balls
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom


    24 Sep 09 - 05:30 PM (#2730709)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Valmai Goodyear

    Tradsinger - was the Sussex singer in the back of a Bonfire coach? That's where I think I first heard the song.

    Valmai (Cliffe Bonfire Society)


    25 Sep 09 - 08:40 AM (#2731039)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: bradfordian

    THE HOLE IN THE ELEPHANT'S BOTTOM as sung by Ray Brown

    My ambition's to go on the stage;
    From this you can see that I've got 'em.
    In pantomime I'm all the rage,
    I'm the hole in the elephant's bottom.
            His balls they hang so low
            I think that I could knot 'em,
            As I wink at the girls in the pit
            Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.
    The man who plays the front part
    Is absolutely rotten,
    All he can do is to fart
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.
            Oh, the girls, they think that I'm it,
            As they sit in the stalls I can spot 'em,
            And I wink at the girls in the pit
            Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.
    A young lady stood at the stage door.
    Said "you're a film star I can spot em.
    You're Douglas Fairbanks," I said "Me Mam, no thanks
    I'm the hole in the elephants bottom."
            One night we performed in a farce
            And they stuffed up the bottom with cotton,
            But it split and I showed my bare arse
            Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.
    There are pockets inside in the cloth
    For two bottles of Bass, if you got 'em.
    But they hiss and they boo when I blow out the froth
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.
            Now my part hasn't got any words
            But there's nothing that can't be forgotten,
            I spend all my time pushing property turds
            Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.
    Some may think that this story is good
    And some may believe that it's rotten,
    But those that don't like it can stuff it right up
    The hole in the elephant's bottom.
            Should the Japanese make an attack,
            Then hundreds of bombs they will drop 'em,
            But we'll keep 'em at bay with an Oerliken gun
            Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

    brad


    03 Dec 10 - 03:45 PM (#3045766)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: bradfordian

    I have recorded a different version of this ditty and as my very first internet video performance put it onto youtube. This wisdom of doing this, I shall eventually learn! Your comments would be appreciated.

    It should be HERE

    bradfordian


    03 Dec 10 - 04:19 PM (#3045780)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: JHW

    bradfordian you've missed out the fine joiny-in chorus
    'Aye, Aye aye aye, Aye aye aye aye aye aye aye
    Over valley and hill there is no finer thrill than the hole in the elephant's bottom'
    I sang this at a funeral tea a couple of years back at the prequest of the deceased


    03 Dec 10 - 05:44 PM (#3045839)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: bradfordian

    Version 2

    Here's a version by someone else with the aforementioned refrain inserted. A different tune to mine, but hell ov alot more entertaining.

    (so where can I find an elephant like THAT one???)

    bradfordian


    03 Dec 10 - 08:21 PM (#3045922)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Charley Noble

    Bradfordian-

    Nice that you're doing this recording as a public service. Songs like this are endangered species, and could easily dissipate into that great black hole of the elephant's bottom.

    Cheerily,
    Charley Noble


    17 Sep 11 - 05:46 AM (#3224563)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST,guest

    My pals they all sit in the pit
    My handicap is, I can`t spot`em
    So I`ve had a periscope fixed
    Up the hole in the Elephants bottom.


    17 Sep 11 - 06:03 AM (#3224569)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Dave Earl

    I first heard this in the Brighton Springfield Folk Club in the late sixties.

    I think it was Tim Broadbent who sang it on that occasion.

    'Fraid that's all I can contribute here

    Dave


    17 Sep 11 - 06:54 AM (#3224584)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: bubblyrat

    It's a Mexican song called "Cielito Lindo" or something like that, written some time ago . My partner and perform it in Spanish ,which she speaks, but NOT , of course , using the English words , about which she was horrified when I told her !! We also do "La Paloma" , which is nothing, I hasten to add, anything like the dreaded "Una Paloma Blanca" !!


    12 Feb 12 - 11:13 AM (#3306947)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST,Mike Harding

    I learned it from the late Stan Crowther who was Lord Mayor of Rotherham. He was quite a character who also wrote a song called the Birmingham Brothel - which affronted a few people. I also recorded this song way back in the day... think its still available on CD somewhere


    12 Feb 12 - 01:47 PM (#3307033)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST,SteveG

    Bubblyrat,
    If you're still there, looking at choruses given above, some versions above seem to go to 'Cielito Lindo' which is one of those universal tunes used for things like football terrace chants. The Yorkshire version I've known since c1966 goes to a similar but definitely different tune with its own characteristics, the chorus being 'Tra-la-la-la la la, tra-la-la-la la la', not so much a chorus as a joiner to give the soloist a rest. It was always sung in Hull by John Cherry who had a fine repertoire of similar pieces from his rugby playing days. He now lives in the York area and sings at the Black Swan.

    All the evidence given above seems to point to a 1920s origin.

    Mike,
    Stan's still going strong. One of his friends recently sent us a disc of his singing for possible inclusion on the Yorkshire Garland website.


    18 Jun 12 - 05:50 AM (#3364839)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST

    Hi Ya,

    My father who was born in 1917, in Surrey, England used to sing this song to my sister and I - we loved it as naughty as it was!! He had learn't it as a wee lad.

    The chorus he sung was:

    Cheerio Cheerio
    Cheerio Cheerio
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom.

    Hope that helps, Regards, Anna


    27 Apr 14 - 02:59 AM (#3622511)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST

    Rod Willmott-I think I may have been responsible for teaching "Te Hole" to Stan Crowther when he occasionally stayed with us in London way back when.Following a stroke I've returned to folk singing and have done "The Hole" a few times up her in the Worcester area.


    27 Apr 14 - 10:11 AM (#3622563)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Steve Gardham

    I know this is an old thread but the OP was asking for origins. Here's a short summary of what we know.

    Charley states he can trace it back to the 30s but no evidence presented.

    Billy Weekes, very knowledgeable on Music Hall origins, states 'a mock music hall song' probably dating from mid 20thc.

    It can be found in recent anthologies of WWII songs.

    Can anyone take it back further for definite?

    It is a typical offering of the bards of officers' messes in WWII.

    Given the format and subject matter it would have spread like wildfire through the forces at that time.

    It is worth adding that when I first heard it in the 60s it was being performed in a very camp style.


    30 Apr 14 - 07:35 PM (#3623307)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Lighter

    Steve, the novelist Anthony Powell suggests in his memoir "Messengers of the Day" (1978) that he heard the song in London in the late '20s or early '30s.


    30 Apr 14 - 07:50 PM (#3623314)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Lighter

    Alan Weeks, "A Bloody Picnic: Tommy's Humour 1914-18" (2010) reports that the song was sung at Christmas, 1916, by "a drunk captain" of 94 Field Ambulance, stationed at Couin.

    I don't know Weeks's source of information, but there seems to be nothing improbable in the claim that the song was known in the First World War.


    01 May 14 - 03:12 PM (#3623460)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Steve Gardham

    Many thanks, Jon.
    You're a goldmine of information. Were thespians pilloried in such a way prior to the 1930s? A good pointer might be to find the earliest version and look at the content. Later additions are often easily dated by contemporary references. The earliest versions I have access to are presented as from WWII.

    If the song predates WWI there is a good chance we will never know its origins.

    It certainly doesn't appear on broadsides or sheet music in any of the major collections.

    Ploughing through contemporary WWI accounts might throw up some more detailed info but I don't know who has the access and time for this.


    01 May 14 - 06:16 PM (#3623495)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Lighter

    Steve, the only obviously "datable" text is the one that includes Charlie's topical stanza about the Japanese making an attack. That must dates to before 1945. (Logue/ Vicarion seems to have learned much of his material in the Army in the late '40s.)

    The primitive nature of the suggested skit seems consistent with a pre-1918 origin - though maybe not terrifically so.

    Douglas Fairbanks, in BanjoRay's version, was probably Hollywood's biggest star by 1918, but his fame continued into the early '30s.

    It's not directly related, but I'm reminded of the mostly American concept of the "ham actor," a term that dates back to before 1890.

    The song's dry humor, apparent in every version, would be quite consistent with an Oxbridge origin, though that's merely an opinion.


    02 May 14 - 06:04 PM (#3623668)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: Steve Gardham

    Oxbridge certainly seems plausible.


    24 Jun 14 - 05:32 AM (#3636254)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST

    Here's a couple of extra verses I made up:

    It's easy to fall off to sleep
    Then my entry cue might be forgotten
    If you're looking for me come and peep
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom!

    Some actors get marvellous parts
    Their characters evil and heinous    But
    Oscars aren't given to those who have striven
    Depicting an elephant's anus


    02 Apr 15 - 09:46 AM (#3699074)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST,FormerDoorkeeperAtBradshawTavern

    Alasdair (Alistair?) Cameron used to sing it with another verse at Bradshaw Tavern in early 70s

    At the end of each matinee show
    I've a trick for the kids if I spot'em
    "Look mummy" they cry as I wave them goodbye
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom


    02 Apr 15 - 10:04 AM (#3699077)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST,FormerDoorkeeperAtBradshawTavern

    Come to think of it, Aladair Cameron's version to the tiger verse was phrased slightly differently, presumably because his verses usually had a rhyme in the 3rd line...

    There are tiger skins all round my house
    While out on safari I got 'em
    For tigers do not expect to be shot
    Through the hole in the elephant's bottom


    03 Jan 18 - 02:31 PM (#3897201)
    Subject: RE: Origins: The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom
    From: GUEST

    General confusion
    The hole referred to is an old theatrical nickname for the spyhole in a wall of the set on stage
    The a covering flap was raised so that stage staff could see the action on stage and give cues for sound effects/entrances etc
    Original song lyrics had therefore double meaning
    Later performers treated the hole literally