Saturday, July 08, 2006

Lays of Ancient Dave

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, been haunted by earworms of childhood chants and songs. They're particularly annoying because I only seem to remember snatches and opening phrases. Does anyone else know this one:

One fine day in the middle of the night
Two dead men got up to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other.

There may be more, but I can't recall. Another one goes:
"Ask your mother for sixpence
to see the big giraffe
with spots over his body
and pimples on his ---
ask your mother for sixpence ..."
and so on through the bestiary, skilfully avoiding the naughty rhyme.

Then there was the spiteful "Adam and Eve and Pinch Me ..." accompanied by a pinch.

My daughter and granddaughters all had rhythmic skipping chants, which I think are traditional and passed down from mother to daughter. They were fascinating, but I can't for the life of me remember any of them. Perhaps readers can?


Blogger Interpreter Pavlov said...

Well, this brought back all kinds of memories. Thank you. There's an extraordinary collection in a book called The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (Iona and Peter Opie) which created quite a stir when it came out in 1977. It's not comprehensive (no such collection could aspire to be) but you'll find many pleasant reminders of childhood in it.

12:50 PM  
Blogger First Nations said...

i know a ton of them. I recall that first one you mentioned about the two guys...
dang. how many do you want or need?
i got:
-two little lovers sitting in a tree
-cinderella, dressed in yella
-who stole my chickens and my hens
-comet! is made of gasonline
-mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
--shaving cream..

hell, its endless. theres a website about childrens chants from around the world. theres a japanese one about 'in the soft breeze the raccoon dogs balls are swinging, swinging, swinging.' whatever that means.

5:36 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

IP, thanks, I'll look for that. Likewise FN, those are great, esp "Mine eyes have seen the glory ..."

Do you know:

Hoochie coochie, my soda cracker
Does yer mama chaw terbacker?

Another spiteful one:
A pinch and a punch
for the end of the month.

At church (Catholic), instead of "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" while beating the breast, we would go
"Cowboy, cowboy, I'm a Mexican cowboy".

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One fine day in the middle of the night" certainly rings a bell... but only dimly I'm afraid.

Iona and Peter Opie also edited the Oxford Book of Children's verse, which I must have been given as an improving present before I was old enough to read it. I've always meant to seek out the language of schoolchildren book...

1:07 AM  
Blogger First Nations said...

i just remmebered these!

oh grammas in the cellar, oh lordy cantcha smell'er
making biscuits on her beat up rusty stove
in her eye there is a matter that keeps drippin in the batter
and she whistles as the *snooork!* runs down her nose!
boys are made of green greasy gopher guts
parboiled monkey feet
ground up parakeets
all these things are good, good good to eat,
you'll find them at your safeway stoooore!
mcdonalds is my kind of place
hamburgers in your face
french fries between your toes
and milkshakes up your nose
yes, don't forget our famous shakes
made from polluted lakes
mcdonalds is my kind of place!

6:58 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

Excellent FN, those are new to me. What's the vintage of the McDonald's one?

7:16 PM  
Blogger First Nations said...

1975, thereabouts. to the tune of their jingle at the time. i can't remember my own phone number on demand half the time but these, i remember.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Chechelmi said...

My dad use to quote that poem....And yes there is more to it. Here goes the whole version:

One fine day in the middle of the night,

Two dead boys* got up to fight, [*or men]

Back to back they faced each other,

Drew their swords and shot each other,

One was blind and the other couldn't, see

So they chose a dummy for a referee.

A blind man went to see fair play,

A dumb man went to shout "hooray!"

A paralysed donkey passing by,

Kicked the blind man in the eye,

Knocked him through a nine inch wall,

Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,

A deaf policeman heard the noise,

And came to arrest the two dead boys,

If you don't believe this story’s true,

Ask the blind man he saw it too!


4:16 AM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

Chechelmi, thanks, that is gratefully received.And welcome, don't recall you being here before.

8:05 PM  

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