Unknown, Alternative Historical Facts

Published by: Dolly on 31st May 2018 | View all blogs by Dolly



During his first time in exile, and just before his return to France, and his subsequent defeat at the hands of Wellington, Napoleon became increasingly paranoid about his height. He would often walk around the island, closely followed by a servant, who would be carrying sheets of paper, a quill, and some ink.

During these walks, he would frequently stop some of the local males and ask them for their shoe size. The logic behind this was to do with height. The smaller the foot, the smaller the person, and vice-versa. Unfortunately for Napoleon, this wasn’t always the case, as he found someone with small feet who was almost six foot!

Realising that this gave results that weren’t always accurate, he resorted to asking their inside leg measurement as well as their shoe size, thereby hoping to find someone with shorter legs than him. Logic decreed that if they had shorter legs, they would be shorter in height. To his delight, he found the system worked perfectly. When he did find someone, he would ask their name, which would be recorded by the servant, along with their address, marital status, religion, where they were born, shoe size, and inside leg measurement.

Finding someone with shorter legs than him, gave Napoleon a great amount of pleasure, as it meant that person was shorter than he was. It also meant that he could have a good old gloat, and call the person ‘short arse! Or, due to the peculiarities of the French language, ‘the arse that is short!’ Unfortunately for Napoleon, the locals began to rebel, by pretending not be in, and even going to the lengths of hiding or building the equivalent of


priest holes and secret places in cellars and attics. However, Napoleon soon got wise to this, was having none of it, and started carrying a tape measure around with him along with two or three hefty armed guards, who would drag the unfortunate screaming islander out from his hiding place, where his inside leg measurements and shoe size were forcibly taken. Napoleon even tried to introduce a law which made it compulsory for every male to go to designated points on the island and have their inside leg measurement and shoe size recorded yearly.

Shortly after the episodes of shoe sizes and inside leg measurements, and when Napoleon had more or less gone through the entire male population of the island and knew all the short arses, he started using the word ‘wack-ado’ in various forms. Sometimes he would use it as a reply to a greeting.

'How’s it going Bony?' someone would say.

Napoleon would often reply with a wink, a wave of the hand and “Wack-ado!' Or even, 'Wack-ado, wack-ado!'

There were times when he used it almost as a question, and would frown and say, 'Wack-ado?'

Then, one day, he found he could sing it, and spent the next few days singing nothing but, 'Wack-ado, Wack-ado, Wack-ado!'

No one knows where he got all this stuff from, perhaps it was some form of mental aberration caused by his fall from being the most powerful man in Europe, to someone taking inside leg measurements and shoe sizes on Elba. Whatever it was, the locals took quite a shine to it, and is still used to this



day on the island. On Napoleon’s birthday, all the males on the island go to designated ’polling booths’ where they have their inside leg measurement and their shoe size recorded. Later, in the evening, everyone gets kitted out in traditional dress, gather round large bonfires, and sing Wack-ado, Wack-ado, Wack-do! All night long.

Rumour has it, that in the early nineteen fifties, an American songwriter visiting the island, heard it and said, 'I can use that for backing singers in a song!'





  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    Dear Dolly,
    I have short legs and am nearly six feet in height. It is quite difficult to get trousers at this length now - I think 28inches. I recently bought two pairs - at different shops - but they had to be ordered as they were not in stock.
    You would think Napoleon was a sticks and stones person which seems not the case. Isn't Tom Cruise rather short too?
    I recently saw a play whose success, seemed to me, due to one actor. The actor is of an extremely short stature. What do you say? She is an actor and has a name.. I just happened to pass the theatre and saw the play was on. It was the first night and I doubt if it has been reviewed. I wonder what the critics will say?
  • mike
    by mike 2 months ago
    The critics have only referred to the actor's name and the success she has made of the part she plays. I think I would do the same.
  • Dolly
    by Dolly 2 months ago
    Hi Mike.The length of the trouser leg is a contentious issue along with the waist measurement as well. There is such a variation in sizes and lengths of all clothes, male and female. I put it down to the fact that we don't make anything anymore, and most clothing is made in faraway places with strange sounding names, and it doesn't just happen in this country either. A couple of years ago, we had seven days in New York, and while we were there, I came across the most amazing piece of irony. Went to the Levi shop in Time's Square where I bought a pair of 501's. Now, you can't get more American than that, can you? Levi shop, Time's Square, New York City. Imagine my bemusement when I looked at the label inside, and discovered they were made in Jakarta, Indonesia! Would you Adam and Eve it! Ridiculous!
  • Tony
    by Tony 2 months ago
    I read this all the way through to the end, waiting for the brilliant punchline.
    Oh well...
  • Dolly
    by Dolly 1 month ago
    Sorry to disappoint Tony. Still no one's perfect.
  • Squidge
    by Squidge 1 month ago
    I can imagine I'd have been on Napoleon's list, short-arse that I am! ;) Made me chuckle.
  • Dolly
    by Dolly 1 month ago
    If that's the case Squidge, I'm sure you wouldn't have been lonely! Glad you found it amusing.
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