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Stately as a Galleon -- Joyce Grenfell

Guest poem sent in by Frank O'Shea

You are gone all serious, lately.

Here is something to lighten the mood.
(Poem #1241) Stately as a Galleon
 My neighbour, Mrs Fanshaw, is portly-plump and gay,
 She must be over sixty-seven, if she is a day.
 You might have thought her life was dull,
 It's one long whirl instead.
 I asked her all about it, and this is what she said:

 I've joined an Olde Thyme Dance Club, the trouble is that there
 Are too many ladies over, and no gentlemen to spare.
 It seems a shame, it's not the same,
 But still it has to be,
 Some ladies have to dance together,
 One of them is me.

 Stately as a galleon, I sail across the floor,
 Doing the Military Two-step, as in the days of yore.
 I dance with Mrs Tiverton; she's light on her feet, in spite
 Of turning the scale at fourteen stone, and being of medium height.
 So gay the band,
 So giddy the sight,
 Full evening dress is a must,
 But the zest goes out of a beautiful waltz
 When you dance it bust to bust.

 So, stately as two galleons, we sail across the floor,
 Doing the Valse Valeta as in the days of yore.
 The gent is Mrs Tiverton, I am her lady fair,
 She bows to me ever so nicely and I curtsey to her with care.
 So gay the band,
 So giddy the sight,
 But it's not the same in the end
 For a lady is never a gentleman, though
 She may be your bosom friend.

 So, stately as a galleon, I sail across the floor,
 Doing the dear old Lancers, as in the days of yore.
 I'm led by Mrs Tiverton, she swings me round and round
 And though she manoeuvres me wonderfully well
 I never get off the ground.
 So gay the band,
 So giddy the sight,
 I try not to get depressed.
 And it's done me a power of good to explode,
 And get this lot off my chest.
-- Joyce Grenfell

Born in London; her mother was sister of Nancy Astor. After school, she was
"finished" at a private school in Paris. She met her husband when she was
17; they were married two years later and lived in a cottage on the Astor's
Cliveden estate.

Her first job was writing reviews of radio programs for The Observer. She
got her first break in writing and performing on radio from Stephen Potter.

She wrote monologues, poems and sketches for radio and later starred in
films with people like Alastair Sims, George Cole and Frankie Howerd. Best
known for the St. Trinians films.

Also appeared in revues with people like Noel Coward, Edith Evans, Peter

In the 70s she was a popular member of the panel of the BBC television
program Face the Music and contributed to Thought for the Day

It's sad that you probably couldn't do this kind of poem today without
offending someone - old people, large people, fans of Olde Tyme dancing etc.

You can find more information on Joyce Grenfell at

Frank O'Shea

23 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

At 02:24 PM 4/30/2003 -0700, Martin Julian DeMello wrote:
>Guest poem sent in by Frank O'Shea
>You are gone all serious, lately.
>Here is something to lighten the mood.
>'Stately as a Galleon'
> My neighbour, Mrs Fanshaw, is portly-plump and gay,


And is Fanshawe supposed to be the "short" form of Featherstonehaugh (at
least, if you believe PG Wodehouse) ...


Jamesesh said...

Hello, my name is David Williams
I wonder, do you know if the music for this song is in print ( in ANY
format)? I have ordered a CD - awaiting it's arrival.
Many thanks for any info.

Rod Dale said...

Did you get an answer to "is music for "stately as a galleon" in print?" ? !! Rod

Richard Bowman said...


Have you managed to find a source for the music to "Stately as a Galleon"?

Best wishes


Lynn Henry said...

Hello, I too am looking for the music for this poem. If anyone can help, I'd be grateful

Patjacque said...

Loved this are there any Joyce Grenfell poems on the web please?


Lesley Slater said...


I have loved this poem for many years and attempt to sing it. However,
parts of the melody escapes me. Is there anywhere I can obtain a copy of
the music?


Lesley Slater

Tony Ward said...

Hi David(?)

I notice from the website you were looking for the sheet music of the tune to Joyce Grenville's "Olde Tyme Dancing" ("Stately as a Galleon"). Your query isn't dated so I don't know how many tears ago it was!!

Did you have any luck?

I am directing a variety show in the village (only 4 weeks to go!) and one of my ladies would love to do it but all my usual music shops and other souces have had no luck.

Was the tune, perhaps, an existing dance tune to which the words were added?

Any advice you have will be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards


Isa Gauld said...

Do you know if I can get sheet music or backing tape for Stately as a Galleon - I am getting quite desperate now

Julia said...

I am desperate too!! Has no-one got the sheet music?

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Anonymous said...

I too am looking for the music or backing disc for Old Tyme Dancing to perform as a surprise for my granddaughters can anyone help Neede for 2 weeks Very Grateful

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amazing poem!! read from beginning to end is with great pleasure. thanks that share this brilliant

Anonymous said...

The delight of humour from Joyce Grenfll never ages or tires.
I can remember my Grandmother singing this poem whlist demostrating the different dances mentioned to enlighten me and amuse.
Cheers for placing poem and info on the web.

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We have liked this specific composition for several years as well as try to perform the idea. Nonetheless, excel formulas elements of this song escapes myself. Can there be wherever I could get a copy associated with
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