🎶There was a lady who swallowed a fly🎶
I was a nervy child, not given to bravery in either the tree climbing or challenging authority departments.
🎶I don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll die🎶
Credulous too, believing what adults told me with a literalism on which religions are founded.
🎶There was a lady who swallowed a spider🎶
So when, standing at the bus stop on a sunny April day with my mother and she announced, ‘Oh! I think I’ve swallowed a fly!’
🎶that wriggled and tiggled and wiggled inside her🎶
Horror struck me.
🎶She swallowed the spider to catch the fly, I don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll die🎶
For a moment she looked a little disconcerted and then smiled as whatever it was that had slipped past her aural defences disappeared like so much other innocent material.
🎶I know a lady who swallowed a bird, which is quite absurd to swallow a bird🎶
I didn’t smile.
🎶She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, that wriggled and tiggled and wriggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll die🎶
🎶I know a lady who swallowed a cat, just fancy that, to swallow a cat🎶
For I had been taught the rhyme.
🎶She swallowed the cat to catch the bird, she swallowed the bird to catch the spider, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don’t know why she swallowed the fly; perhaps she’ll die🎶
And while I may not believe every stanza
🎶I know a lady who swallowed a dog; such a hog, to swallow a dog.🎶
The opening line had to be true.
🎶She swallowed the dog to catch the cat, she swallowed the cat to catch the bird, she swallowed the bird to catch the spider, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don’t know why she swallowed the fly; perhaps she’ll die🎶
The bus came and I watched her for signs of her imminent demise.
🎶I know a lady who swallowed a cow; I don’t know how she swallowed a cow.🎶
I didn’t break my wide eyed gaze.
🎶She swallowed the cow to catch the dog, she swallowed the dog to catch the cat, she swallowed the cat to catch the bird, she swallowed the bird to catch the spider, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don’t know why she swallowed the fly; perhaps she’ll die🎶
Terror gripped me.
🎶I know a lady who swallowed a horse…..🎶
Any moment she was sure to topple over. My zealous, nay demented focus snagged her attention. ‘Are you alright, darling?’ Gulp, swallow. I forced back the tears. ‘What is it?’ She asked, now becoming worried herself. Somehow I managed a dry throated croak. ‘You swallowed a fly.’
Confusion snagged her brows. Then light dawned.
Weaker, less empathetic mothers might have laughed and made light of my near psychological collapse. Not mum. She took my hand. It was a decisive moment, a shared determination to deafest this insidious enemy. It was a maternal ‘We’ve got this!’ Hurrying from the bus we hastened home with a brisk efficiency for which my mother was made. She sat me down and headed for the medicine cupboard. There she extracted a bottle of TCP. This was used to bathe bruises, clean wounds and occasionally gargle sore throats. It was the medicinal scotch bonnet chilli of its day. She took a swig and swallowed. That’s probably not recommended and from her expression was probably more likely to have done for her that Musca domestica. We sat still for twenty minutes, me checking she still had a pulse, mum waiting for the tumultuous explosions in her stomach to subside. We had tea. And cake. The fly had been defeated and poetry shown to be a fiction. All was right with the world.
🎶I know a lady who swallowed a horse; she’s dead – of course…..🎶
If anyone is interested in further fly based revelations then I heartily recommend my book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle a comic coming of age story of Harry Spittle and the challenges he faced, aged 19 in the long hot summer of 1976. Here’s a link if you can be tempted…. Here’s one reviewer’s opinion…
I’ve been waiting to read a book like Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle for almost twenty years, or perhaps longer. How to describe Geoff Le Pard’s sense of humour is not an easy task. It reminds me of Townsend’s Adrian Mole, and yet it’s more sophisticated and complex, more like Greene’s Travels With My Aunt, but more bawdy, although certain moments, especially the slapstick final scenes remind me of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, ‘Free Brian’, Dear God, I cried, ‘Free Harold!’ Unique.
Harold Spittle’s first person narration of his unforgettable summer holidays is hilarious. I’m still in stitches after reading about his eccentric family, friends, co-workers, neighbours, and vicious cat, causing havoc throughout the chaotic weeks, while he inadvertently and naively barges into a hazardous world. It all takes place in an unsuspecting and quiet village in the English countryside, whose inhabitants have seemingly turned crazy (perhaps due to the unusual heat-wave?!?) and become inexplicably teeming with drugs, crooks, rapists, voyeurs, adulterers, adolescent pregnancies, pumpkin thieves, family feuds and secrets.
Warning: Don’t read it on the bus or train, people will stare as you burst out laughing.