Peter Reavy

Flannelled fools

Posted in Uncategorized by Peter Reavy on May 1, 2009

Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye contented your souls

With the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals.

from RUDYARD KIPLING: The Islanders.


I looked this Kipling poem up since Stephen Fry mentions it in passing, in his letter to himself at 16, a hit article on the Guardian’s web-site.

The phrase was used as the title of a novel which Fry liked as a teenager. I looked it up on Amazon. It deals with a school teacher who has a mysteriously strong admiration for one of his pupils.

I also learn that Kipling’s poem created a fuss at the time. He wanted National Service as he was correctly scared of a resurgent Germany. Have never read any Kipling, mean to, but even this poem seems a bit long.

Never mind flannels, “The Muddied Oafs” would make a great title for a football book.


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