I love nursery rhymes. I loved them as a kid. I loved reading to my kids. And I love reading them to my grandkids. I’m heading to the market this morning and this keeps banging around in my head…
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
It was only until moving here to England that I’ve realised that so many words used here are from those beloved nursery rhymes. I pass signs on the Carriageway that bring them to mind.
Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain,
He stepped in a puddle,
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.
The Grand Old Duke of York,
He had 10,000 men,
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.
And Surrey, and Leeds, and of course London (where Pussycat went to visit the Queen…)
Just the other day I was walking along a footpath and came upon a stile (a sort of stump that you use to climb over a fence) and immediately…
“I saw a crooked man; who walked a crooked mile; he found a crooked six-pence; upon a crooked stile.”
A stile! A crooked stile! A bloody crooked stile!
We drove two hours north yesterday to visit a factory in Leicester and every sign seemed to trigger another rhyme in my head. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get these nursery rhymes out of my head? And I wondered if my work associate could tell when I was drifting in “nursery rhyme mode”. I can’t seem to stop myself!
Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. There’s so much new here (or old if you will) and trying to absorb it all is a bit overwhelming. New words, new phrases, new places, new foods, new people. So perhaps the nursery rhymes are my comfort zone right now. It brings the familiar to an unfamiliar place. Maybe it’s not madness; it’s just a way of processing tons (spelled tonnes now) of information.
It has helped with some of the melancholy; I imagine I’m sharing those nursery rhymes with Charlise or Anna or Noah. Or back in time with Tyson or Bess or Blake…
Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy and Bess,
They all went together to seek a bird’s nest.
They found a bird’s nest with five eggs in,
They all took one, and left four in.
And somehow it all feels right.