More on Tod

Yesterday I wrote about phrases meaning being alone. That wasn’t the first time I’ve thought about on your tod, on your jack, on your larry… here’s what I’ve written previously:


I’m not sure many younger people use the phrase ‘on your tod’ meaning on your own, and maybe it will die away, but it has a very interesting origin which I couldn’t have guessed at.
I supposed it might be rhyming slang, or that ‘tod’ might be an archaic word which has long since vanished, and in fact there is an archaic word, long since vanished which meant a weight of something, particularly wool, or a clump of something such as a bush or shrub… but tod as in being on your tod has a very different origin.
In fact Tod was a person – James Forman Sloan, an American; he was born in dire poverty in 1874 and, abandoned by his parents, lived on the streets. He had a wonderful gift though, and that was riding horses and he became the greatest jockey of his time, and with it came wealth and celebrity. He was famous for a style of riding he invented and developed, known as the monkey crouch where the jockey literally crouched over the horse’s neck.
He became very rich and because, according to him, his middle name was Todhunter, he became known as Tod, Tod Sloan. So Tod Sloan – on your own, was indeed rhyming slang, and sadly Sloan did end up on his tod. After great success in the USA he came to Britain and became the Prince of Wales’ jockey; however things went disastrously wrong. He was not popular, and maybe because of his lack of education, or his rough childhood, he had no social graces, was rude and seemed arrogant. There was also a suggestion that he may have placed illegal bets on himself. it seems however that it may have been that those in a position of power, the toffs of the Jockey Club just didn’t like him and he wasn’t allowed a license. returning to the USA he also lost his American license.
He died in poverty of cirrhosis of the liver in 1933, all his fabulous clothes, cars, jewellery long gone… he truly was ‘on his tod’.


A few days ago I wrote about the tragic story of James Sloan who was born in dreadful poverty, abandoned by his parents and lived on the streets, who rose to fame and huge fortune through his brilliance as a jockey, and then fell back to the poverty from which he had come, dying alone from cirrhosis of the liver. He asserted that his middle name was Todhunter, and he became Tod Sloan, which then through rhyming slang came to be Tod Sloan – on your own, to on your tod which means alone.
Rhyming slang comes from London, from the cockneys, who would replace an ordinary word or phrase with a rhyme of it, and then use it instead of the original. Was it just fun – because a lot of the terms are comical, was it a way of talking in code, or was it a way of using rude or obscene language by replacing the words with something harmless?  or do all three of those ideas play a part in rhyming slang?
While I was looking up all about ‘on your tod’ I came across another couple of similar examples meaning to be alone – on your jack  and on your pat. On your pat is the Australian version; Londoners who were transported to places like Australia at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century, took their slang with them. On your pat comes from ‘on your Pat Malone’ – on your own; apparently the first note of it was in 1907, and it may have come from a popular song at the time called ‘Paddy Malone in Australia’. The story of the song which was written by Banjo Patterson, is of an Irish immigrant to Australia who fell on hard times before returning to Ireland. Maybe he was the Pat Malone of the saying. It seems that the two versions, on your tod and on your pat are sometimes conflated to produce ‘on your Tod Sloan’.
So, on your tod and on your pat… now who was Jack Jones of on your jack fame?


Being on your own can be a positive or a negative thing, and most people like having some own-time, but dislike being lonely. There are several phrases and expressions meaning to be on your own, and there are three rhyming slang versions. The sort of being alone alluded to in the slang phrases is the sort of alone that most people don’t want, where they might feel abandoned or left behind or left out, and to be lonely and maybe isolated.
I’ve written about James Todhunter ‘Tod’ Sloan, the successful American jockey who inspired ‘on your tod’, and the Irishman, Pat Malone in a song by Banjo Paterson, who tried to farm the outback in Australia, with little success and returned home to Ireland,  ‘on your pat’, and there is a third slang rhyme, ‘on your jack’, or ‘on your Jack Jones’.
This is another example of a song which is now long forgotten, living on through one of or part of its lyric. This was a music hall song entitled ‘’E Dunno Where ’E Are’. It was written by Fred Eplett who was one of the first of the Grand Order of Water Rats and a contemporary of Dan Leno. In case you were wondering, the Grand order of Water rats is a benevolent and charitable organisation whose members are exclusively connected with the world of theatre, stage and show business.
Going back to Jack Jones – not the American singer who was born in 1938, the son of another well-known American singer, Allan Jones – but the Jack Jones of the song which was made famous by Gus Elen a very popular music hall singer – the song tells the story of Jack Jones, a  Covent Garden market porter who somehow came into some money, and was no longer interested in his old friends. According to the song he now calls his mother ‘ma’ instead of ‘muvver’ and he stands on his own in the bar drinking Scotch and soda.
Jack Jones in the song is stand-offish, and unfriendly but the saying ‘on your jack’ usually implies that the lone person is lonely and forgotten.

’E Dunno Where ’E Are

Jack Jones is well known to everybody,
Round about the market, don’t yer see
I’ve no fault to find wiv Jack at all
When ‘e’s as ‘e used to be
But somehow, since ‘e’s ‘ad the bullion
Left ‘e ‘as altered for the wust
When I see the way ‘e treats old pals
I am filled wiv nothing but disgust
‘E sez as ‘ow we isn’t class enuf
‘E sez we ain’t upon a par
Wiv ‘im just because ‘e’s better off
Won’t smoke a pipe, must take on a cigar

Chorus: When ‘e’s up at Covent Garden
You can see ‘im standin’ all alone
Won’t join in a quiet Tommy Dodd
Drinking Scotch and Sodas on ‘is own
‘E ‘as the cheek and impidence to call
‘Is muvver ‘is ma
Since Jack came into a little bit of splosh
Why, ‘e don’t know who ‘e are

Wears boots as pinches up ‘is awk’ard feet
I’ve seen ‘im in a collar and tie
When I saw ‘e’d got a diamond pin
Felt as if I’d like to die
‘E drives up in an ‘ansom every day
Tho’ ‘e’s big enough to walk
Speaks as though ‘e was a Colonel Norf
Nearly makes yer ill to ‘ear ‘im talk
One day I saw ‘im wiv a top-‘at on
‘E said ‘e’d bought anuvver fer ‘is pa
Wears gloves and no mistake they’re kid
Which shows the josser don’t know where ‘e are.

Chorus: When ‘e’s up at Covent Garden
You can see ‘im standin’ all alone
Won’t join in a quiet Tommy Dodd
Drinking Scotch and Sodas on ‘is own
‘E ‘as the cheek and impidence to call
‘Is muvver ‘is ma
Since Jack came into a little bit of splosh
Why, ‘e don’t know who ‘e are

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