My daughter cannot get enough of “Little Baby Bum”, an internet channel that give classic nursery rhymes a modern twist (Baa Baa Black Sheep inexplicably delivers his bags of wool in space). It’s the 13th most viewed YouTube station of all time, racking up 6.5 billion views, although 4.2 billion of those are by me and Phoebe.
I hadn’t realised how screwed up and disturbing nursery rhymes are. Take the three little kittens who are punished by their mother for losing their mittens by being denied dinner. Surely the real criminal is the parent who expects her feline offspring to sport human gloves. It’s like she doesn’t even want to give them pie. And why would they want it? They’re cats.
The five little ducks have an even more irresponsible mother. She takes them swimming each day (over the hills and far away) and doesn’t seem overly perturbed when every single time one of her progeny disappears. She only shows remorse when all five have gone. Which is a bit too late to take parental responsibility.
There’s a seemingly happy ending as all five lost infants return. But I can’t help consider what happened to the ducklings in the interim. One of those little ducks has been missing, out in the wild, fending for itself for practically a week. The mind reels with the terrible possibilities. The family is reunited but the psychological scars will surely never heal.
The five little monkeys have it worst. “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed, one falls off and bumps his head, mother calls the doctor and the doctor said, “No more jumping on the bed!”” For the doctor to not even attempt to resuscitate the fallen monkey child clearly indicates that there is nothing monkey medicine can do for it. The little monkey has passed on. The doctor can merely warn that the mother should not allow this to happen again. As if anyone would need that spelling out, after being responsible for the death of their own monkey child.
And yet, the song progresses with the same scenario, with one less monkey and the same inevitable consequence: another fallen monkey and the doctor having no option but to repeat the same dire warning.
Alas to no avail, the monkeys fall until there are none. And this time there’s no coming back. The decaying bodies lie mangled by the bed as a stark yet unheeded warning.
When I sing it to Phoebe, I try to make it true to life. The second verse goes “four little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped her head, mother called the doctor and the doctor said, “…..Didn’t you hear what I said? After your first monkey child died? You must remember. It was only yesterday. I said, and I quote, “No more jumping on the bed!” I know you’re grief-stricken and not thinking straight but 40% of your children are killed. Please, don’t let the remaining three jump on the bed. In fact, get rid of the bed all together. I am not sure why you have it in the jungle.”
In each verse the doctor becomes more exasperated that
his advice is being ignored, screaming, “I know you’re just a monkey and so not
the most intelligent creature on the planet, but I am a monkey and I became a
doctor. Not a very good one, with the ability to help injured monkey children,
but still… !”
Finally the terrible mother is taken away by social services so that she can never make this mistake again.
Phoebe prefers the LittleBabyBum version.
Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won an Oscar. At last he has some validation in his life. Up until now the sprout-faced actor only had his millions of dollars, a constant stream of work in a famously insecure profession and being up to his plums in a supermodel for 18 hours on any given day. So this tiny golden statue handed to him by some other (white) multi-millionaires will hopefully help him struggle on with his life.