> Folk Music > Songs > iIt’s a Wonder I’m Alive to Tell the Tale / Household Remedies

iIt’s a Wonder I’m Alive to Tell the Tale / Household Remedies

[ Roud 1440 ; Mudcat 172032 ; Edgar Bateman, Harry Randall]

It’s a Wonder I’m Alive to Tell the Tale is a music hall song written by Edgar Bateman and set to music by Harry Randall in 1898. It was printed with the title Household Remedies in Frederick Woods: The Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse (Oxford Universiy Press, 1983).

Charlie Wills from Dorset sang Household Remedies in 1950 to Peter Kennedy, in 1958 to Mervyn Plunkett, and in January 1971 at the age of 93 to Bill Leader. The latter recording was released a year later on his eponymous Leader album, Charlie Wills. The album’s notes commented:

A wonderfully bizarre song, which Charlie used to perform with great enjoyment. It may belong to the same period as Corduroy, but all efforts to trace it have failed.

Nick and Mally Dow collected Household Remedies in November 1984 from Bill House of Beaminster, Dorset.

Graham Metcalfe sang Home Made Remedies in 1996 on his WildGoose album Songs From Yorkshire and Other Civilisations. He noted:

Years ago, if you couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit some very dodgy methods were used to effect a cure.

Source: Charlie Wills 1877-1971, Somerset.


Charlie Wills sings Household Remedies

Most folks believe in doctors but there’s my old girl she don’t
And when I’m laid upon my bed send out for one she won’t
She says she’s got enough to do without her paying fees
And doctor me herself she does with household remedies

No matter what the ailment is she knows a simple cure
But whether it fits my complaint we’re never certain sure
For instance when my aching hollow tooth upset my health
That putty didn’t answer though she pushed it in herself

She tried to stop the toothache with her gutta-percha sole
A thing she said was never known to fail
And to melt the pieces in held a light beneath my chin
It’s a wonder I’m alive to tell the tale

I used to have the bilious bile through eating pork at night
And someone said a black draught would be the thing to set me right
We hadn’t got no black draughts but we had some dominees
She vaselined the double six and down my neck it goes

And when I had a face which swelled as big as Pilsdon Hill
I had the earache awful and the gumboil took a chill
She said she’d try her granddad’s cure a thing she knew by heart
And a little sweet oil and a feather seemed to play the leading part

She tried to stop the earache with some sweetened paraffin
You’d have thought I was a bedstead from a sale
But that beastly low-flashed oil blew off my lovely boil
It’s a wonder I’m alive to tell the tale

I wore a dandelion when my liver bad became
And all the boys got shouting after me in Laddin’s Lane
And then I up and tells her ’tis medicine I need
Instead of Carter’s liver pills she gave me Carter’s seeds

And when my blood was very hot, well ninety in the shade
She very nearly corpsed me with the cooling stuff she made

She got some salts and senna and some raspberry ice and cream
And asked the man to cool it in his pail
What I suffered no-one knows when the raspberry unfroze
It’s a wonder I’m alive to tell the tale