Mudcat Café message #1114971 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4300   Message #1114971
Posted By: Billy Weeks
12-Feb-04 - 12:43 PM
Thread Name: Children's Street Songs
Subject: RE: Children's Street Songs
This thread is drifting all over the place. I love it! So no apologies for a bit more drift. An experiment my wife, Val, and I conducted a few weeks ago:

Ask any adult you like (but not a Mudcatter) how many nursery rhymes they know. Most will answer 'Oh, maybe a dozen' or will offer an even smaller number. Suggest that they know more than 20 and hardly any will agree.

Val and I decided to do a count and found we were word perfect (if the term is permissible in this context) in more than 70 - and we don't think that this is in any way an exceptional score. Try it. Write a list and keep adding to it as your memory comes up with them!

Furthermore, our grand daughter, not yet four, was familiar with most of our 70-plus. Without prompting she had difficulty reciting more than half a dozen, but she could join in on the majority. Interestingly, her preference is very much for rhymes where she can make up bits ('Aikin Drum' for example, puts no strain on the memory. Once you've got the general hang of it you can improvise).

Returning to the thread proper, I collected a pretty street rhyme many years ago, from a teacher who remembered it from her own childhood. It goes to a snappy, skippy little tune:

Off to the butchers I must go, I cannot wait any longer;
My mother said that I must not play with the boys down yonder;
White stockings, blue garters, hair tied up with silver,
A red rosette upon my chest and a gold ring on my finger.

Have never heard it since.

One reason you don't hear much like this today (apart from the fact that you won't hear if you don't listen) is that the urban streets of totally car-orientated populations are pretty hostile places. With both sides of the street lined with parked cars and the centre serving as a race track for saloon tanks, a child would be crazy to play any game that requires space, like 'Please Mr Fisherman' or 'What's the Time Mr Wolf?'

The saddest thing is that the drivers bombing through the middle are all too often parents who have been trained by their paranoid newspapers to see a paedophile around every corner - so they drive their kids to schools less than a mile away from home.

I don't know the answer, but offer the thought that irrational fear and automobile culture are major causes of obesity and the destruction of traditional lore.

Ah - I feel better now!