No, not Donald Trump. But this was the best image I could find of a hatless man in a gale. My theme is tradition. In particular the song which to all intents is  –  or rather was  – the national anthem of Yorkshire but which a measly 10 percent of recently polled Yorkshire schoolchildren had even heard of. I mean of course, On Ilkley Moor, B’aht ‘at.

There was a time when every English child knew this song, irrespective of their county. Mine certainly grew up knowing it. It was one of those novelty songs (Widdecombe Fair was another) that parents used to resort to to stop children biting each other’s ankles during long car journeys. Now they just play them a DVD.

But back to Ilkley Moor. For my baffled American reader, I’ll summarise. Ilkley Moor is a beautiful windswept piece of Yorkshire. ‘B’aht ‘at’ is Yorkshire dialect for ‘without a hat’. The song, at great length, predicts the demise of anyone who goes on to the moor bareheaded and courting Mary Jane. You’ll catch your death of cold, the song goes, then we shall have to bury you, the worms will devour you, the ducks will devour the worms and that means, when we next have a duck dinner we shall effectively have eaten you. So put your cap on, lad.

This version, by the Skelmanthorpe Male Voice Choir, has been censored of its darker lines, but is worth a listen anyway if only to enjoy the rich variety of the English language. I doubt The Donald has ever been to Ilkley Moor but he really should think of wearing a hat. You know?

Leave a Comment