2010-03-01

The Old Woman in the Shoe

Tonight is my bimonthly meeting of the Northumberland Scribes. The prompt we were given was, "write up to 150 words on anything suggested by a nursery rhyme. Back-story, sequel, meditation, spoof. Like, whatever. Like poetry, it doesn’t have to rhyme."

I chose the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

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;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.



That might have been done in the days long ago
But today such behaviour is not apropos.
Laws were created to protect children’s rights
They don’t give a hoot about parents’ plights.

The old lady was warned she must change her ways,
Child services gave her a handful of days.
She wavered, and dithered, then said, “Woe is me,
I must take this offer from Reality TV.”

So the camera crew came with their lights shouting action,
The old lady soon found they were quite the attraction.
She demanded a contract, the network agreed
You can find them on Wednesdays on the WB.


Now, just because you know I can't leave it at that, I did a little research on the Old Lady, and here's what I discovered:

At first glance this would appear to be a purely nonsense rhyme but in fact it has origins in history. There are two choices of origin. The first relates to Queen Caroline (the old woman) wife of George II who had eight children. The shoe refers to the British Isles.

The second version refers to King George who began the fashion of wearing white powdered wigs and was consequently referred to as the old woman. The children were the members of parliament and the bed was the Houses of Parliament which he required them to have sessions in - even today the term 'whip' is used in the English Parliament to describe a member of Parliament who is tasked to ensure that all members 'toe the party line'.

5 comments:

Tom Stephenson said...

You must be psychic, Carol ( or something. Side-kick?) I like your latest, it reminds me of my latest - including the George II...

I like the illustration too!

CamrynMorrell said...

I like what you came up with, and the research you found was very interesting. I might try this myself. :)

crazynance said...

Very good update on Old Woman.

Most of the 'nursery rhymes' are said to have historical backgrounds. I once read a novel about children who had been shipwrecked and their parents taught them a puppet show where the bad guy had different coloured eyes. You guessed it! They were saved and the real bad guy had... ! different coloured eyes. Very exciting. Victorian England.

Jamie D. said...

I love your poem, Carol...thoughtful and sad at the same time. You really captured the proper "mood" I think.

Fascinating history behind it too...I love that you research everything so well to share. :-)

C R Ward said...

Thanks everyone! I had a lot of fun with this prompt. ;-)