Thursday, 15 March 2012
Could I, should I?
When I was little, my sisters and I would often sing in the car to while away the time on long journeys. One of our favourites - and I assume one that my mum taught us, was "We went to the animal fair". I absolutely adored it and still love it today. In fact it is the song I sing to my boys when they are upset or need amusing.
As I picked stones out of the soil at the allotment yesterday in preparation for sowing onions today, I was singing this song to myself. I started to think about why it was that I love it quite so much.
Here's what I came up with.
Ok I know the picture above seems a little random but hopefully all will become clear! This is Astley's Amphitheatre an early modern circus which was a popular attraction in the late 1700's in London. People flocked to see horses and equestrians perform amazing acrobatic feats or the touring menageries of wild beasts. The Tower of London had a permanent collection of exotic beasts which was a real crowd pleaser.
I know about these places because they are often referenced in a series of historical novels by Georgette Heyer who wrote extensively about the Regency period in England. I must confess an obsession (shared by Stephen Fry I might add) with these romance novels (I have nearly the whole collection - thanks to my husband who buys me a new one for each birthday, Christmas etc!) She often describes the delight of young children when they are taken by a kind uncle to see these magnificent sights.
Its that same delight that I find in the imagery of the song. You can almost picture yourself at the fair, and if I add sound effects to my rendition when I sing to the boys; I am fairly certain of giggles when the monkey falls out of his bunk and slides down the elephant's trunk.
So I'm wondering..could I? Should I? attempt to turn these marvellous lyrics into a paper cut?
"We went to the animal fair
The birds and the bees were there
The big Baboon by the light of the moon
was combing his auburn hair.
The monkey fell out of his bunk (ooph)
and slid down the elephant's trunk (whee)
the elephant sneezed (AATTISHOO)
and fell on his knees... (thud)
but what became of the monkey, monkey, monkey?"