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The elephant is a pretty bird
It flies from twig to twig
It makes its nest in a rhubarb tree
And whistles like a pig

Do kids still recite that in the schoolyard? Do the nerdish ones list all the ways in which it’s not true? Once upon a time there was a kids’ tv prog called Elephant’s Eggs in a Rhubarb Tree: comedy sketches with Ann Beach, Richard Beckinsale of Porridge fame and others.

I remember reading an article about a hundred years ago that explained how the culture of the playground stayed consistent far longer than that of the adult world. Skipping games and nursery rhymes survived far longer than any memes that came and went for the gwowed-ups. Even though the old idea that Ring-a-ring o’ Roses was about bubonic plague was laid to rest long ago, the rhyme did indeed date back a very long way.

But has the rise of the smartphone, following on from that of the hand-held computer game, laid most of these things to rest?  As kids went back in many ways to sharing adult interests, particularly that of being cannon fodder for capitalism and marketing, and being cool not only gained in importance but also got defined as having the latest stuff — oh, and not to mention society absorbing more varied cultural influences — have the old games and rhymes been swept away?

I have no idea. Not having offspring of my own, there are few ways to find out that don’t risk suspicion and restraining orders. So I shall just ponder in disinterested ignorance.


I deplore the rise of the word ‘of’ where ‘have’ is meant. No doubt I shouldn’t of done it will eventually become valid English grammar, along with Elise and me went shopping, and it’s probably no sillier than some constructions that have been acceptable since before I arrived on the scene seemed to the curmudgeons of the past.  But why on earth I initially typed ‘following on from that have the hand-held computer game’ just now is utterly beyond my comprehension.

I love the serendipity of youtube suggestions. It’s worked out I like obscure symphonists and while some of the things it introduces me to are deservedly obscure, there are gems. I’m liking the Danish Symphonist Hakon Børresen and was intrigued, if not fully convinced, by the only symphony of Croatia’s leading Late Romantic, Dora Pejačević (above). There’s an inexhaustible supply and a few gems that could well deserve a place in the repertoire.


But as soon as Mr Børresen’s Second is over I must get  Bach to basics.  Someone in Chinaland wants me to select assorted recordings of Johann Sebastian’s Forty-Eight Preludes and Fugues. And plan some video lessons on English sentence construction.

Keeps me off the streets, I guess.