Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nursery Rhymes…..The truth behind the lines

My sister and I were watching Food Network Challenge on Sunday and they were making cakes that depicted Nursery Rhymes. This brought up an interesting conversation; we were raised on little rhyming tales that made us giggle with glee. Now that we are older and some of us are teaching them our children, should we look deeper into the meaning of these little ditties?

Let’s Get Started….

*Jack Sprat*
Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean; and so, between them both, they licked the platter clean.

This is a cheerful tale about Jack who some might consider anorexic and his lovely wife who needs to go to Overeaters Anonymous. They both have eating issues and neither one seems to mind…..as long as the platter is cleaned.
This is really a story about Charles I of England and his greedy wife Henrietta who did not like when Parliament wouldn’t let them go to war, so old Charlie dissolved Parliament and imposed an illegal war tax on the commoners, and “licked” England clean to feed their appetites for war…HAPPY TALE ISN’T IT?

*Humpty Dumpty*
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Humpty back together again.

I know you are all picturing an egg falling off a brick wall….NOPE “Humpty Dumpty” used to be slang for a nerd, dork or “egghead.” So this is making fun of a simple minded person

*Ring Around The Rosies*
Ring around the rosies, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down

I can still remember singing this song and laughing as we all fell down, in all actuality this is about the Great Plague. A rosy rash is the first symptom….and to help the air smell better people carried herbs and spices….and the Ashes are really referring to a cough that also was a symptom. When we “fell down” we were really re-creating the final step of the disease…death…..HAVING FUN YET?

*Little Jack Horner*
Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas pie; he put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, and said what a good boy am I!

Little Jack Horner was not a good boy — he was a thief and a scoundrel! According to legend, Jack Horner was sent to King Henry VIII with a Christmas gift — a pie in, which were hidden the title deeds to twelve manorial estates. (Hiding objects in pies was a common practice in those days) On his way to the king, Jack popped open the pie and stole the deed to the Manor of Mells, a real “plum” of an estate. To this day the Horner family resides there.

And finally I will talk about the poor old woman who lived in a shoe…..this will totally shock ya!

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, She had so many children she didn't know what to do; She gave them some broth without any bread; She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

This is somewhat factually based upon a late 18th Century eccentric one parent family, of Margery Buttwhistle, a known village drunk and prostitute. Ms. Buttwhistle is believed to have had over 20 illegitimate children. She was a terrible mother! In an attempt to grab their mother's attention, the children formed the notorious “Shoe Gang” which specifically targeted wealthy aristocrats footwear in exile from revolution-torn Paris. Once thieved, these trophies were presented to Ms. Buttwhistle, who would trade them for alcohol. The local inn keeper who accepted the shoes as payment stored the contraband in the cellar until they could be secretly shipped up to Bristol. Buttwhistle was in a constant inebriated state, and would seldom leave the bar each night, managing only to collapse in the cellar and sleep off her drunkenness — with only the shoes for company.

Now that I have ruined all of your favorite nursery rhymes I do apologize….although the back-story on our favorite tales are not as we pictured. Someone was pretty smart to turn odd and terrible situations in to something of jest.

Until Next Time,
Hugs & Kisses
Sister Belle