Click to view the track list for CD #2
James Joyce at the Piano in Paris, 1939 James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems
CD #2 Song List
Artwork for CD #2 cover

James Joyce Quote
Boys, do it now. God's time is 12:25.
James Joyce Unquote

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What-Ho! She Bumps!

Music by Arthur J. Mills;
words by Harry Castling

Liner Notes


On Saturday, September 2 1899, The Era reported this song's premiere at London's Royal Theatre of Varieties: "Mr Charles Bignell, who never commits the fault of boring his hearers with stale songs, has made a great hit with 'What ho! She bumps!'" Whether the phrase preceded and inspired the song, or the song launched the catch phrase, I have been unable to determine — although my suspicion is the former, based on the slim and rather inchoate nature of the lyrics, which have little purpose except to provide three opportunities to shout What-ho! She bumps!

Whatever its genesis, the phrase has had a long life: first popular among soldiers during the Boer War, it was still sufficiently current in England for stop-action film pioneer George Pal to use as the title of one of his Puppetoons in 1937. According to Morrie Johnston's blog (THAT HAPPY FEELING, December 9, 2003), it is still current in the Australian Navy — and, apparently, among technodweebs Down Under as well:

What Ho!, She Bumps.

WHSB is an ONS (Old Naval Saying) and usually referred to a collision. Its also got a modern meaning of "wow, it works". So, sincere congratulations to Ben, Mena, Anil and the team for the upgrading editing facility in Type Lists. It certainly pays to read the News occasionally.

Finally, here is a 1901 recording of the song as performed by Fred Jeffers:

(Flash format)

What-Ho! She Bumps!
(MP3 format)

[CD liner notes by Kevin McDermott]

Text Citation »

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