Thank you, Mr. Atkins

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

–Rudyard Kipling

I’m not a big fan of Veterans Day. It’s very handy to have one day each year where some folks can wave their flags, visit the area Veterans Admin hospital, go down to the VFW to shake hands and hug; and generally make nice until midnight …

… when the flags are put away until next year, along with the visits and the hugs.


Enjoy Veterans Day, Gentle Readers. Just don’t forget that veterans are still veterans the other 364 days of the year, too. Their needs, their problems — the myriad reasons a Veterans Day is needed — don’t go away on November 12.


Apropos of nothing ...
I'm sorry, run that by me again?

15 thoughts on “Thank you, Mr. Atkins”

  1. I don’t agree that Veterans Day is only for the living, but either way, much thanks to all our men and women, past and present.

  2. I read this post to my Marine, and he gave that chuckle of his that says, “Well, I’ll be damned… somebody sees it my way.” Thank you, LawDog.

  3. Indeed. Thank you from our whole family…which is saying something because it’s huge.

  4. Well that’s interesting. LabRat and I don’t have to the minute timestamps on the public side of Atomic Nerds, but checking behind the curtains, your post and hers quoting the same poem went up within 15 minutes of each other (after you allow for the time zone difference).

    Great minds not only think alike, it seems, but they apparently have their watches synchronized.

  5. Luckily, Tommy continues to walk in front when “trouble’s on the wind”.

  6. I remember that poem! I’ts in my little antique book of “Barracks Room Ballads” by Kipling. I also agree that Veteran’s Day is MORE than just one day a year (But then again, My husband, myself, 2 of our kids (a son and a daughter) and 2 sons-in-law are ALL Veterans, as were my husband’s father, my father, grandfather, and the majority of my uncles.) Military service is pretty much a tradition in this family, so whenever I see our men and women in uniform, I make it a point to thank them for their service.

  7. Interesting blog. I’ll be coming back to read more, from time to time. The push knife entry is interesting. You failed to include the part about being liable for using it, and also the part about the high percentage of people who will freeze when faced with the prospect of cutting someone up, but otherwise, fascinating.

    In my own life, the second knife story, is the story of me saying to myself, “If I cut this kid, I’ll go to prison, and if I don’t cut him, he’ll kill me with my own knife.” There are 5 knife stories in my life. The first ever entry in my blog is the 5th knife story.

    Vet’s day? My dad just died in a VA hospital a couple of months ago. I’m glad they were on the hook for the last days of his life, they took very good care of him.

  8. Dog;
    We received this from a British friend the other day,thought you would appreciate.

    thumbody from THR


    The soldier stood and faced God,
    Which must always come to pass.
    He hoped his shoes were shining,
    Just as brightly as his brass.

    ‘Step forward now, you soldier,
    How shall I deal with you ?
    Have you always turned the other cheek ?
    To My Church have you been true?’

    The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
    ‘No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
    Because those of us who carry guns,
    Can’t always be a saint.

    I’ve had to work most Sundays,
    And at times my talk was tough.
    And sometimes I’ve been violent,
    Because the world is awfully rough.

    But, I never took a penny,
    That wasn’t mine to keep…
    Though I worked a lot of overtime,
    When the bills got just too steep.

    And I never passed a cry for help,
    Though at times I shook with fear..
    And sometimes, God, forgive me,
    I’ve wept unmanly tears.

    I know I don’t deserve a place,
    Among the people here.
    They never wanted me around,
    Except to calm their fears.

    If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
    It needn’t be so grand.
    I never expected or had too much,
    But if you don’t, I’ll understand.

    There was a silence all around the throne,
    Where the saints had often trod.
    As the soldier waited quietly,
    For the judgment of his God.

    ‘Step forward now, you soldier,
    You’ve borne your burdens well.
    Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
    You’ve done your time in Hell.’

    Author Unknown~

    It’s the Military, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the
    Press. It’s the Military, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of
    Speech. It’s the Military, not the politicians that ensures our right to
    Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It’s the Military who salutes
    The flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by
    The flag.

  9. Every time I see that poem I am reminded that it fits the meter of “Hiring Fair” sung by the Irish Rovers. The liner notes don’t say if it was a traditional song, but they do say it was “adapted” as was “Come in”, a traditional Irish song that supplied the tune for “Marching with Sherman Through Georgia”.
    There is a certain irony in the fact that this poem which memorializes the ill treatment of British Soldiers by civilian Britons fits the tune of a song that bemoans the ill treatment of Catholic Irish by the Protestant Irish transplanted by the British.

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