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2004-05-26 Nursery Rhymes

When I accepted the responsibility of being a godfather, I understood that for each of my four godchildren I was on hand to offer spiritual guidance, should they require it, or indeed request it.

 

So you can imagine my feelings when one of my godsons asked me for a Playstation game for Christmas, and I found myself deciding between Grand Theft Auto  Vice City, Resident Evil (complete with proper zombies) or Tomb Raider with the virtually voluptuous Lara Croft. I eventually chickened out, and opted for the usual book token.

 

I returned home, stroked my beard, donned my slippers, puffed my pipe, sipped my Complan and reminisced on the good old days, when a playstation involved an engine, carriages, some railtrack and a vivid uninhibited imagination.

You see, I was reared on simple fairy stories and harmless nursery rhymes, like the one about the arachnophobic Miss Muffet. Ok, so maybe that wasnt the best example. How about those cute visually-impaired rodents who had their tails chopped off by a big carving knife? Ok, maybe I am not really proving my point here. There was of course that pumpkin-eating bigamist who kept one of his wives in a shell, the polygamist en route to St.Ives, or Mr and Mrs Spratt with the eating disorders.


 

Actually, the more I think about it, were these rhymes fit for a nursery? After all, that ill-fated and oversized egg still lies below that wall baffling the kings men, Pussy in the well is not at all well, that evil sparrow with its bow and arrow has murdered Cock Robin, Tommy Tucker still sings for his supper and his voice isnt what it was, and the lonely ladybird who flew home to find her house burned down is now homeless and childless.


 

Come to think of it, I didnt mind being made from puppy dogs tails, but didnt particularly relish being part-snail, and longed for even a small slice of sugar, spice and all things nice. Why were people born on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays all fair of face, full of grace, loving, giving and hard-working? And I was full of woe? How come poor Solomon Grundy only lived for a week? Those babes in the wood were stolen away, sobbed, sighed, lay down and died. The old woman in the shoe had so many kids, she ended up beating them and sending them to bed. Dapple Gray was whipped and slashed by his mistress, and Doctor Faustus was a good man who whipped his scholars.

 

May I suggest that Wee Willie Winkie was possibly not the full Euro? It is surely not normal practice to run through the town in your pyjamas. There was the crooked man whose whole life was crooked, Bo-Peeps tail-less sheep, the kleptomaniac Knave of Hearts, the wee incontinent piglet, this old racist man, and a little boy down the lane deprived of wool. Georgie Porgie wasnt an altogether nice guy, Margery-Daw was overworked, and what was Johnny doing dressed in a bonnet, blue ribbon and stockings? Is there something you want to tell us Johnny? The butcher, baker and candlestick-maker were turned out of their tub in mid-ocean never to be seen again, all because they were knaves. Its no wonder Michael Quirke turned to wood-carving!


 

And how can a cow jump over the moon, unless she had some special grass? In Cock-a- doodle-do we are asked What my dame will do til Master finds his fiddling-stick?. Well, there really is no answer to that, or is there?


 

At least one of the 24 blackbirds baked in that not so dainty pie got revenge by snipping off the maids nose. Only recently did I discover the origin of Ring-a-ring-a roses , which actually simulates the plague  the rash, the fever and all fall down dead! Jack breaking his crown and Jill tumbling after should certainly not have been taken so lightly. What if that cradle on the tree-top does fall, and down comes baby and all?


 

This is just the rhymes, we havent mentioned Grannies big teeth, poisonous apples or pig-eating wolves. With playstations, at least what you see is what you get. How did all these supposed nursery rhymes not induce sleepless nights?

Gosh I think I will wind down now with a quiet game of Resident Evil.