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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Childhood II

Hi everyone,

Well, here it is finally: I hope it's worth the wait!

The idea for this blog came to me back in May, when I was on holiday in Cornwall. Walking down a country lane, I saw a field of yellow flowers:



I leant over the gate to take a closer look and saw that the flowers were buttercups:



These pretty little flowers are really weeds - they grow in fields and hedgerows from April until late summer. Who decides what are weeds? I checked the dictionary definition and it said: "A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden." It seems to me to be very unfair, don't you agree? Just because a gardener wouldn't want them in the garden, they are called weeds!

Seeing the field of buttercups made me think of a nursery rhyme about buttercups and daisies



I started singing it to myself (it's a good job there was no-one else walking along the lane - they would have thought me very strange), but do you know, I couldn't get further than the first few words. The rest of the rhyme had completely gone out of my head! (Now that is very odd, because somehow the brain often stores songs. I don't know about you, but I can hear the first few bars of a song from my teenage years and find I can sing along with the whole song!) Anyway, when I came back from holiday, I checked on the internet to see if I could find the words....and do you know, I couldn't find any! Maybe I imagined it!

Nevertheless, it started me thinking about other rhymes I learnt as a child. Of course there are hundreds, but I thought I would share just a couple of them with you. I'm hoping you'll share some of your nursery rhymes with me too! The first one is a rhyme about London - here it is and I'll explain it afterwards:

"Oranges and lemons" say the Bells of St. Clement's
"You owe me five farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin's
"When will you pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney
"I do not know" says the Great Bell of Bow
"Here comes a Candle to light you to Bed
Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head...."

Have you noticed how many nursery rhymes and fairy stories are really gruesome? Have you read any of the Brothers Grimm fairy stories: they are very bloodthirsty! This nursery rhyme is no exception, although as a child, I just thought it was a good song! All the bells mentioned in the rhyme are (or were) in churches in London. I thought I knew where they all were, but do you know, I have been doing some research and discovered I didn't know anything at all! Today I've been out on a voyage of discovery with my camera!



Oranges and lemons" say the Bells of St. Clement's
The rhyme begins with this church because when the Thames was wider than it is today, oranges and lemons from the Mediterranean were delivered by ship just across the street. It is said the church bells pealed when a cargo arrived. There is also a church called St Clement's almost outside Bush House. If you walk by the church at 9 a.m. you'll hear the bells play the tune to this nursery rhyme!



"You owe me five farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin's
St Martin's church was almost completely burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The tower and the bell remained. Above you can see all that is left of the church: the tower is now offices in Martin Lane. Martin Lane was once notorious for moneylenders. A farthing is an old English coin.



"When will you pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey
The Old Bailey (the Central Criminal Court in London) stands on the original site of Newgate Prison. The 12 bells mentioned in the rhyme hung in a nearby church and the tenor bell in the bell tower was rung on mornings when there was an execution at the prison. The church still has the 'Execution Bell' in a glass case: but it's not used any more!


The Old Bailey

"When I grow rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch
Shoreditch was a very poor area of London

"When will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney
The church has ten bells, the oldest of which was recast in 1385



"I do not know" says the Great Bell of Bow
There has been a church on the site since 1070. During the 14th Century a curfew was rung on the Bow Bells every night at 9pm. It is said that anyone born within hearing distance of Bow Bells ringing is a true Cockney.

"Here comes a Candle to light you to Bed
Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head...."
Apparently, on the night before an execution, the prison warder would stand outside the prisoner's cell with a candle, at midnight, to let them know that the next day their head would be chopped off!! Hmmm. I'm not sure if that's actually true, but it's certainly gruesome!

The other nursery rhyme I wanted to share is a bit more obscure. It's one my Dad used to say to me when it was bedtime.

"To bed! To bed!"
Said Sleepy-head;
"Tarry awhile," said Slow;
"Put on the pan,"
Said Greedy Nan;
"We'll sup before we go."

Right, that's enough from me! Over to you. Please share your nursery rhymes with us!

Take care

Carrie

curfew : a law stating that people must stay inside their houses after a particular time at night until a particular time the next morning

Sleepy-head: an affectionate name for a person (usually a child)who is very tired or not paying attention
Tarry: an old fashioned word for "linger"
Nan: Nan is a version of the name Ann. It can also be what you'd call a children's nurse-maid (from nanny)
sup: to eat supper

Comments

My favourite rhyme which still I like it is:- Twinkle Twinkle little star How I wonder what you are Up above the world so high Like a diamond in the sky We had to do it with action and it was wonderful doing it. There are other rhymes also which I remember but I guess for today one is enough. I am also thinking about doing research on rhymes after reading your blog. Hope you will like my rhyme. Best regards. Asma

Carrie! The field of buttercups is wonderful and made my day; we are having snow yet even lots of it! I wonder about the amount of this flower which was commonly seen on our walks with my father in my childhood but now I could see just some single of it. And I agee that it is strange to make the flower to the weed. Lots of such may be wonderful in a vase. The voyage of discovery is something adventurous though it may be just around the corner, isn´t it? Churches and their history reveal have had a good result, thanks. Unfortunately, I have never been interested in learning rhymes and songs as a very bad singer. All the best!

Your stories are fantastic. You should write a book, Carrie.

I love BBC learning website and its blogs in particular. One can get acquainted with your wonderfull culture and learn a lot of interesting things.

Hi Carrie, The butter cups field looks absolutely amazing. In first glance, I thought it to be mustered field. Mustered plants also have yellow followers. Looking at this yellow field brought back some old memories which I would like to share with you. I am originally from Pakistan and we don’t have weeds such as butter cups and daisies there. I don’t know what the reason behind it but possibly it could be due to the climate differences between here and Pakistan. So coming back to my memory, when I first moved to Ireland and saw a white garden which was a few houses away from us made me wonder what it was. Since it was the back garden of a house, I couldn’t see it clearly. But I kept thinking if it is an artificial snow or something else until a friend invited me to her house and their garden was also white. I went out and checked and I was amazed to find out that the garden looked white because of pretty white flowers. Since then I am fond of daisies but like you I also some times wonder why people remove them as they look so beautiful. I don’t remember any nursery rhyme from childhood but I would like say that your explanation of the nursery rhyme was fantastic. I never thought what it meant but it makes sense when you explained it. I think there is a reason behind everything written especially poetry. But listening to nursery rhymes in childhood just becomes so normal that even later on we don’t think what it means or why it is written. We just pass them on to our children and this learning process continues with us thinking about it. I guess this is enough for today. Thanks for sharing your childhood memories with us. Looking forward to your next blog. Take care

Hi,Carrie! I was so eager to read about buttercups and daisies more that I coldn't help searcing :) Have found this: Buttercups and daisies- Oh the pretty flowers, Coming ere the springtime To tell of sunny hours. While the trees are leafless, While the fields are bare, Buttercups and daisies Spring up here and there. ....... Is it it? As for Ukraine we also have many beautiful lullabies and nursery rhymes.They are not gruesome, though some of them may be to some extent tough representing a just punishment. E.g. this finger-poem, my favourite one (rough translation): The Magpie-Crow Was sitting on the stovetop, Cooking porridge for the children - I gave to this one, - I gave to this one, - I gave to this one, - I gave to this one, - And I won't give to this one. - 'Cause this one - Didn't chop the wood, - Didn't make the dough, - Didn't go for water, - Didn't look after the children, - Didn't do anything. - And the one who doesn't work, - Doesn't eat! It's so great to share the experiences from different cultures! Thank you!

Hi Carrie, It's always a pleasure reading your blogs (and I'm not exaggerating). I did know the rhyme of the Bells, I think I read it on some book but I hadn't caught the meaning. Now that you explained it, it became clear to me. Does Bailey have something to do with the licquor "Bailey's". I'm very fond of it:-) Sorry, but I can't remember any rhyme from my childhood. My memory is betraying me as I'm getting old :-( Best wishes, Cris

Hi Carrie, thanks for the wonderful, interesting work on historical churches of London and your childhood memories enough able to lump anyone throat. Your voyage for discovery on nursery rhymes is worthy of lot of praise. I am very happy to see the historical churches of London and have a feeling as if I toured London. Sharing childhood memories rhyme (fantastic! You still remember) made the article more interesting. It is known fact that when we lull child by singing rhymes, in fact, unconsciously, we teaches child primary words of language. Because of rhyme of words child picks up vocabulary very fast. Is it not? Keeping in mind this fact, recently (about 2 months back) I bought a MP3 CD containing lot of animated nursery rhymes for my tiny tots so that they could recognize action words and different sounds. I think this is a good method to teach English to children (It helps adult new learners too). Pictures of buttercups and daisies are attractive.

Dear Carrie! It was, undoubtedly, worth the wait! A huge thanks to you for the wonderful photos (especially of buttercups and daisies), for the nursery rhyme about London and last but not least for the fantastic explanation. I told my children lots of Hungarian nursery rhymes when they were small. Please have a look at the website http://www.mondoka.hu/index.php?v_action=doc&v_type=1, if you would like to read some of them and if you are interested. I think that I cannot translate them because they are written in rhyme and the point would be lost in translation. I would like to show three nursery rhymes that have no meaning even in Hungarian. First: “Apacuka, fundaluka, Fundakávé, kamanduka, Abcug, fundaluk, Funda kávé kamanduk.” Second: “Ekete-pekete,Cukote-pé, Ábel-bábel dominé, csiszi á, csiszi bé, csiszi-csuszi pompodé.“ And the third one: 'Antanténusz, szórakaténusz. Szóraka-tiki-taka, Alam-balam bimm-bamm-busz.” Do you like them? Looking forward to hearing from you. Take care!

Dear Carrie! It was, undoubtedly, worth the wait! A huge thanks to you for the wonderful photos (especially of buttercups and daisies), for the nursery rhyme about London and last but not least for the fantastic explanation. I told my children lots of Hungarian nursery rhymes when they were small. Please have a look at the website http://www.mondoka.hu/index.php?v_action=doc&v_type=1, if you would like to read some of them and if you are interested. I think that I cannot translate them because they are written in rhyme and the point would be lost in translation. I would like to show three nursery rhymes that have no meaning even in Hungarian. First: "Apacuka, fundaluka, Fundakávé, kamanduka, Abcug, fundaluk, Funda kávé kamanduk." Second: "Ekete-pekete,Cukote-pé, Ábel-bábel dominé, csiszi á, csiszi bé, csiszi-csuszi pompodé." And the third one: "Antanténusz, szórakaténusz. Szóraka-tiki-taka, Alam-balam bimm-bamm-busz." Do you like them? Looking forward to hearing from you. Take care!

In my childhood girls in my hometown often chant a rhyme as playing the skipping-rope: Ficus virens,ficus limbs, Under the virens is my home; There's a kind sister in my home, Her name is horse orchid... At that time around the town were lush ficus virens and at the foot of the tree must be lots of yellow or purple flowers.In the town there was also an old bell-tower;every nightfall Mom tugged at my hand to stroll the park and went home according to the long and deep bellstokes.Nowadays most ficue virens as well as the old town have disappeared as the build of Three Gorge Dam;my family moved to the new settlement and I've never visited the belltower.Modern city is attractive,but I'm missing the plain town and those chidhood memories! I've been self-studying English and finished this inperfect passage with dictionary's help. The Internet world is as lonely as true world?Dear Carrie, would you befriend me and listen to songs from my heart?

Hi Carrie! I remember when my father used to make up some bedtime stories or when he used to read the story of a bear and a cow in order to make me sit properly or eat a certain dish. Plus, how I cannot forget the boogeyman. On a different topic, are you going to dress up as for Halloween? Have a spooky one!!

Hello Carrie! Long time no read :) You stirred up my curiosity with you nursery tune. I’ve found it and know what? It doesn’t go out of my head! I can remind you if you can’t recall: Buttercups and daisies- Oh the pretty flowers, Coming ere the springtime To tell of sunny hours. While the trees are leafless, While the fields are bare, Buttercups and daisies Spring up here and there. Ere the snowdrop peepeth, Ere the croscus bold, Ere the early primrose Opes its paly gold, Somewhere on a sunny bank Buttercups are bright; Somewhere 'mong the frozen grass Peeps the daisy white. Little hardy flowers Like to children poor, Playing in their sturdy health By their mother's door: Purple with the north wind, Yet alert and bold; Fearing not and caring not, Though they be a-cold. What to them is weather! What are stormy showers! Buttercups and daisies Are these human flowers! He who gave them hardship And a life of care, Gave them likewise hardy strength, And patient hearts, to bear. Welcome yellow buttercups, Welcome daisies white, Ye are in my spirit Visioned, a delight! Coming ere the springtime Of sunny hours to tell- Speaking to our hearts of Him Who doeth all things well. P.S. Good idea with a book from Adriana. Cheers!

My late Mother grew up in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She loved Buttercups and Daisies and taught me to love them as well. I'm currently writing a book about her life and came across your lovely article and beautiful photos. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to share.

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