Wednesday 9 May 2012

That's Not Suitable

Being a parent is a wonderful, joyous thing. Sometimes. Other times it’s definitely not. And while there are massive emotional highs, the likes of which I’ve really never experienced before, it is perhaps not the most intellectually stimulating thing I’ve ever done. Recite ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ twenty times in as many minutes and your mind would start to wander as well.

I’m well aware that the current Dinseyfied versions of fairy tales have had their roughest edges knocked off. In some of the oldest versions of Cinderella, for example, the evil step-sisters tried to fit their feet into the glass slipper by cutting of their toes, and were eventually punished for their mother’s selfless decision to adopt Cinders by having their eyes pecked out by birds.

This dress was originally made from human skin

This smoothing is no bad thing. I’m not averse to schooling The Boy in the harsh realities of our futile, fleeting human existence in a cold indifferent universe, but let’s not run/mutilate women’s feet before we can walk, eh?

Despite my best efforts to insulate him from the cruel realities of life, stuff still slips through. Usually in presents from well meaning relatives, in the form of books and CDs of nursery rhymes. Some of these are gibberish, some are banal, and some are frankly blood-curdling. All of which is good, because it means I can fill in the plot holes and back-story to prevent myself going nuts. Or at least more so.

Item One -
Goosey goosey gander, wither shall I wander?
[The fuck? Are you on crack?]
Upstairs and downstairs, in my lady’s chamber.
[You have a lady in a chamber downstairs. Is this Martyrs? Are you trying to achieve transcendence through torture or something?]
There I met an old man who would not say his prayers,
[See, knew it was a religious thing]
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.
[You did what? He’s an OLD MAN. You’ve almost certainly killed him, you fucking psycho. Just because he wouldn’t help you hasten the Rapture. Christ alive]

Item Two -
Half a pound of tuppenny rice.
[Grass, clearly]
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
[I shouldn’t fucking wonder, those aren’t exactly ‘personal use’ quantities]
Pop goes the weasel!
[Snitches always come to a sticky end]

Item Three -
Baa Baa Black Sheep,
Have you any wool?
[Yeah, ‘wool’. Just come straight out and call it cotton]
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.
[‘Sir’? Not so very far away from ‘massa’ are we now?]
One for the master,
[There we go.]
One for the dame, 
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.
[Can I get away with slavery and paedophilia jokes in the same rhyme? Probably not.]

Item Four -
There was an old women who lived in a shoe.
[With property prices these days that’s probably a shrewd move]
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
[How about SHUTTING YOUR LEGS you fucking slapper?]
She gave them some broth without any bread,
And whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.
[Single mothers, eh? Seriously, this woman is the Daily Mail’s worst nightmare/best wet-dream ever.]

Item Five -
Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard,
To fetch her poor doggy a bone.
When she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor doggy had none.
[Life is grim and then you die. Deal with it, kid]

Bonus Picture Item -

The spiritual precursor to both Orwell's meisterwerkes. The rousing tale of comrade Buttercup and other faithful Heroes of the Revolution. Their work unit is assigned to Farm 123, where they uphold the glory of the Fatherland by producing five woolly sheep. For this the benevolent Party awards them the Order of Labour. The neighbouring collective on Farm 124, however, produces nine quacky ducks and is honoured with the Red Banner.

Workers are the backbone of The People. All patriotic sons and daughters honour those who dutifully provide the means of production. All except the bolshevik capitalist running-dog lackies of Farm 122, who produce only four muddy pigs. They are branded counter-revolutionaries and shot at dawn.

Next time - Post-colonial narratives on gender and sexual identity in In The Night Garden.


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your interpretations but thought you might be going in a slightly different direction when you talked about the rough edges of fairy tales... Do you know the story Kachi Kachi Yama? There are many variations of it, as wikipedia notes, and some of them "alter details of the story, such as the severity of what the tanuki did to the woman and how the tanuki got the mud boat." For a children's story, it gets pretty severe. I encourage you to investigate :)

    1. The moral of the story being, rabbits are tricksy little fuckers. I especially like the bit where he bludgeons the badger to death with an oar. Makes these guys seem almost wholesome -

  2. I'm sticking to the european weirdness for the time being. I figure it's more than enough to be going on with. Pearls and arseholes are getting uncomfortably close to 'specialist website' territory, and that's a conversation I'm hoping to avoid for a few more years at least.

  3. I remember "Ring around the Rosie, Pocket full of posies ashes ashes we all fall down" we sang it and ran around holding hands and sat and fell to the ground at the end...I learned later what it meaned....pretty horrific.

    1. Yep, plague pits and all. It's on one of the DVDs we've been given, and it's one of the trippiest things I've ever seen.

      Look at it. Look at their dilated, unseeing eyes and their horrifyingly fixed grins. They are so clearly smacked off their fucking tits -

  4. Hast thou not heardest of the Stinky Cheese Man? Right up there with Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children.


    1. I hadn't. But now I have. Thanks for the tip, though it might take a few years before the kid can appreciate it in all its glory.