Sunday 9 August 2009

What's up with nursery rhymes?

These thoughts that are in my brain today stem from a game at a friend's baby shower. (Baby showers could be a WHOLE other blog entry....)

Anyway, the game was fill-in-the-blank nursery rhymes. Wanna try it? How many can you get?

1. Mary had a little lamb, its ______ as white as snow
2. Baa baa black sheep, have you any _______
3. Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub, and how do you _____ _____ _____ _____
4. Mary, mary quite ______, how does your garden grow
5. Peter picked a peck of ______ ______
6. 1, 2, buckle my shoe; 3, 4, _______ ___ ________
7. Little Jack Horner sat in a corner eating his _________ pie
8. Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her ______ and ______
9. Peter, Peter pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn't ______ her
10. Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no ________
11. Hey diddle diddle, the _____ and the fiddle

#3 is what prompted this entry. The answer is apparently "think they got there". I (and the person beside me) thought the line should be "and who do you think they be?", not "how do you think they got there?". Just for my own anal mind, I texted my recently-married brother. Is that last part relevant? No. Just wanted to put that in there. Congratulations Jere and Mare! Anyway. Jeremy got back to me with:

Three men in a tub,
And how do you think they got there?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker,
They all jumped out of a rotten potato.

WHAT?! Has ANYONE heard this version? They all jumped out of a rotten potato? That doesn't even rhyme, let alone make ANY sense!

Jeremy followed that up with another line:
'Twas enough to make a man stare.

Okay... At least that completes it with a rhyme, but the rhythm sucks ass.

I googled the nursery rhyme and finally found the version I know:

Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three.

And there's yet another version:

Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub,
three maids in a tub,
And who do you think were there?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
And all of them gone to the fair.

Apparently the origin of the nursery rhyme that one of my childhood tubs toys is based on was about three women in a tub with the butcher, baker and chandler watching them (or perhaps partaking?)

My source? Wikipedia - so take what you want from these "facts".

There's a whole other tangent I could go on about child abuse, spousal abuse, death, violence and innuendo in nursery rhymes, but I don't have the energy tonight. Maybe another time?

Oh ya. Need these?.... Here are the answers:
1. fleece
2. wool
3. think they got there
4. contrary
5. pickled peppers
6. shut the door/knock at the door
7. Christmas
8. curds and whey
9. keep
10. lean
11. cat


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