Monday, 19 October 2009

Humpty Numpty

C'mon folks! Not going to stand idly by and let the Daily Fail diss Justin Fletcher, are we? (Well, clearly I'm excluding from this rallying cry both Sally Whittle and Josie George, but no matter.) Not content with Moir-gate last week, the newspaper is now whipping up a storm in Mr Tumble's teacup. They've even found an MP to harrumph about it. And the cause of the furore? Parliamentary double-standards, maybe? Journalistic nastiness? No. It's all about Humpty-Dumpty and his fabled breach of health and safety regulations.

I'd better declare an interest at the outset here. I. Love. Justin. There. I've said it, and I must confess I feel a whole lot better for it. We've kept it quiet for a while now. Only a few people know the true extent of my infatuation. Charlie patiently puts up with it for my sake, watching every move that Justin makes and even absent-mindedly trying to make sense of the sign-language that he's using.

Something Special, Something Special Out-and-About, Something Special at the Seaside, Something Special At Large, Something Especially Special, we watch 'em all. In fact, I like to think I'm 'something' of an expert. Which is why I can state with the utmost certainty that the 'Humpty-gate' episode the Daily Fail is banging on about today is old news. Older than old. We've seen that episode at least a dozen times. Mr 'Humpty' Tumble was being helped back together by the King's Horses and the King's Men months ago. And so what if the words were changed? The BBC's so-called 'nonsense' made a lot more sense than the original. And anyway, what is so politically-correct about wanting to put a fat egg back together again?

Now I do love nursery rhymes. Despite their (sometimes) troubling provenance, their trippy lyrics and the overwhelming daftness of the tunes, I enjoy the faint shadows that they cast of past events. They're the aural equivilent of crop-marks. Humpy-Dumpty may have been a cannon; Ring-a-ring o'roses might have been about the plague; Pop goes the Weasel could quite plausibly refer to the pawning of an overcoat and Oranges and Lemons be a satire on MP's and their expenses (ok, I made that last one up). I don't know. But one thing is certain: the words are not, and never were, cast in stone and carried down from the mountain-top. There are regional variations, centuries-old updates, 'alternative' versions and many mispronunciations. Adding a CBeebies version actually adds to the fun, as well as continuing a long tradition. And complaining about it just makes MPs and daily newspapers look silly.

I have a cunning plan. I suggest we all update our favourite nursery rhymes if only to annoy the Daily Mail and it's outraged MP. I'm sure we can do a darn site better than those feeble attempts in the weekend 'papers. I'm prepared to have a go myself (subject to the muse's visitation) and I'll feature the best in a couple of weeks time. There might even be a prize! (I know, I know...) And just to get you in the mood, here's your starter for ten...

Goosey goosey gander, whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs and in my lady's chamber.
There I met an MP who claimed more than his share,
So I took him by the left leg and had him deselected as parliamentary candidate at the next general election.
And I threw him down the stairs.

Come on, you know you can do better than that!


  1. Terrific! now here's my confession. When my youngest was Charlie's age, i used to make him watch Postman Pat. I found him so soothing, so comforting....just like John Major did, I believe.

  2. John Major and Postman Pat, Sue?! That's almost as unbelievable as John Major and Edwina Currie....

  3. Justin is a complete genius and I really miss him now we're on the grown up CBBC. Justin is the best!

  4. There's been so much Justin bashing lately I'm glad someone has stuck up for the poor bloke. I'm also coming of the closet....I love Justin too! Even Gigglebiz!
    I shall work on my alternative nursey rhymes.

  5. Justin is simply the best. Gigglebiz is never missed in our house. A couple of weeks ago, he was pouring chocolate sauce on a mousse (an animal - it's genius)

    Justin rules! And we adults love him as much (or in some cases more) than the kids do :-)

  6. You could always give 'Gigglebiz' a go, Liz. My 11 year old CBBC fan never seems to mind the channels being changed at that time, for some reason!

    Wonder if Justin's got a fan-club Emma? If so, I think we both should join. Look forward to the updates!

    I have to say I'm not convinced by Gigglebiz, WSM. And I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Justin fan. There's something vaguely odd about it, altho' it's a great vehicle for JF's talent.

  7. Justin taught my daughter sign language, so he's aces in my book. Plus he makes the happiest clown ever. Bar none.
    How very dare they.

    (nice to be allowed back in your pad to comment now!)

  8. Seriously when I see you mention that gross publication I should just click away. It is not good for the blood pressure.

    Talk about mountain out of a mole hill, and as for having a pop at Justin that is like, well, risky. I heart him too. Happy to have his back.

    Plus if Cbeebies can sustain some renewed interest in nursery rhymes, all the better. A recent survey I read, had turned in results suggesting they are being used less and less.

    I wrote about it here in fact

  9. Daily Mail.....aaaaarrrggghhh.

    This is my favourite quote from that article

    'Kids should be exposed to real life a bit, not cosseted away,' he said

    Ermmmmm, it's a NURSERY RHYME Mr Politician. D'oh!

    *Wanders off chuntering under breath*

  10. First time visitor here and immediate follower! I do like Justin but find Gigglebiz a bit disturbing.

    How about:
    Wee Willy Winkie runs through the town
    Upstairs, downstairs in his nightgown
    Rapping at the windows
    Crying through the locks
    'Are the children all in bed because now it's 8 o'clock and the government has legislated this is when children have to go to bed because parents can't be trusted to know what's best'

    Catchy, yes?

  11. Oh how silly.

    Justin may make the skin on the back of my neck crawl but Kai absolutely loves him - sits and copies signs and Gigglebiz (although I find it unbelievably disturbing - seriously WTF?!) is his all time favourite.

    So (and I feel I was vastly misrepresented here) - I would never DATE Justin, but still love his work, if only for Kai's sake...

  12. Hey, welcome back Tara. You can come and leave a comment anytime... especially if you're saying something nice about Justin.

    I know, I know, Ian. You should see how many times I've had to wash my hands this morning! I remember that survey. Now if they'd timed the article to coincide with that, it might've made more sense. But why now?

    Make's you wonder what kind of real life politicians lead, IM. Obviously the kind you learn about from nursery rhymes!

    Love it, Kitshcy Coo (and welcome along!). Your name vill go on ze list.

    Now you're beginning to sound a bit like all those politicians, Josie. Misrepresented indeed... ;-)

  13. Is it Makaton the sign language Justin uses?

  14. I've never even heard of Justin Fletcher!

  15. I echo the comments, we love Justin as he’s taught both my girls basic signing. And as for nursery rhymes my girls love:

    Baa baa pink sheep
    Have you any spots
    Yes sir, yes sir, lots and lots
    Some on my fingers
    Some on my toes
    And some on the end of my long pointy nose

    Now, it’s not exactly topical but what the said newspaper would make of this one is anyone’s guess. Perhaps a slur on spotty adolescents or disparaging those who are debilitated by chicken pox?

  16. Oh I love Justin. SUCH a big fan. My sons love him too and my eldest is obsessed with Gigglebiz he even shoves a blanket up his top to give him fake boobs like Nana Knickerbocker. Actually, is that worrying? Don't let the Mail hear about that one.

  17. Glad to have put that right then, DD! Anything else you'd like to know?

    Classic, Kassia. Topical doesn't really matter although - as you say - there's probably plenty of rant-content if you look hard enough.

    He's in a league of his own, WJ - although I'm still a little unsure of Gigglebiz. Charlie watches it from start to finish, however, with his mouth wide open in amazement. We're not (yet) at the drag stage though... We'll keep that one a secret, shall we?

  18. I love the image of throwing the soundbite MP down the stairs ... !

  19. The Daily Mail should be ashamed. If ever there was a big non-newsworthy story this was it. A waste of column inches. They could teach the grand old duke of York a thing or two about wasting people's time...!

  20. The cannon bit was made up in 1956 I think, and bizarrely ring a ring o roses isn't about plague- it's first recorded in writing in the Victorian age if I remember correctly. Nursery rhymes are fascinating, Humpty Dumpty was a puzzle/riddle with the answer being "an egg."

    The Daily Mail is a crap pretend newspaper, masquerading as a proper paper, its not better than the Sun.

  21. Dangerously attractive, MAM, isn't it... Not that I'm advocating violence, of course. Unlike almost every nursery rhyme.

    I could have understood it better, Steve, if it had been the silly season. But there's hardly a shortage of serious news at the moment.

    I'm rather fond of the old tale of Humpty Dumpty being an enormous weapon, Alex. But I suppose it's only cannon-fodder.

  22. We're big Justin fans here at Casa de Squidge! Anything Justin does and Squidge will watch, especially Gigglebiz she just loves it. Off to find his fan club...

  23. Hey diddle diddle
    MPs on the fiddle
    And Legge jumped over the books;
    The people, they laughed
    to see such fun;
    'Til they all got away with their second home allowances.

    (OK, so both rhyming & scanning fail on the last line - sorry.)

  24. Justin rocks. FACT! I was never more surprised than when I found out he was also the voice of Jake Tweeny - imagine that?!

    LOVE the nursery rhyme idea - will get me thinking cap on and give it a whirl.

  25. Before I pulled the plug on our television, Something Special was Presley's favourite programme. Poor Justin. Stupid Daily Fail.

    Have you read 'Pop Goes the Weasel' by Albert Jack? It's a book on the origins of nursery rhymes. Mary Mary, quite contrary is pretty hideous!

    They sing this at playgroup (I don't know if it's widely known):

    Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar
    My Dad drives a rusty car
    Start the engine, pull the choke
    Off he goes in a puff of smoke
    Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar
    My Dad drives a rusty car

    I think Health and Safety would have something to say about that one!

  26. OK, Jake Tweeny is now RUINED for me forever. It's like finding out about Father Christmas (hope no precocious already-reading four-year-olds spot this). I did a module on children's literature at uni, which included a paper on nursery rhymes. Well, talk about having led a sheltered life till then. You have no idea what Jack & Jill were up to, and as for Little Bo Peep... Our second verse to Ring a Ring o' Roses:

    Mummy's a bit grumpy
    Daddy is up a tree
    Will you all tidy up
    With a one, two, three!

  27. Fantastic!! Charlies too cute!! Mp's are silly full stop, i'm off now to think of a new take on "jack and jill"


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