How many miles to Durham town?

How many miles to Durham town?

Two hundred plus two score and ten

Can Dom get there by candlelight?

Seems he thinks he can.

Will Boris look the other way?

Yes, they’ve got his back.

His heels are nimble

his toes are light

It won’t get him the sack.

Rules are meant for other folk

Rules aren’t meant for him

He can travel wherever he wants

You can’t see your gran.

Spread the virus seems he can

Up and back again

How many miles to Durham Town?

Two hundred plus two score and ten.


Pussy isn’t well

Ding dong bell

pussy isn’t well.

Who made her ill

track and trace to tell.

Ding dong bell

Pussy isn’t well

Where’s pussy been?

Who’s pussy seen?

She ate all the mice

in the farmer’s barn

Never did no one

any harm.

Now she’s not well

sad tale to tell

Who was the one?

Who passed it on?

Ding dong bell

Who made her ill.

Pussy isn’t well

Track and trace to tell.

More news from nursery rhymes and popular tales.

The third update on my project to revisit nursery rhymes and popular stories for our Covid times. You can find the first and second updates here and here and there are links to rhymes you may have missed.

Mary went back to school and, inevitably her little lamb followed. Teacher didn’t appreciate having a lamb in class. It was quite difficult enough to enforce social distancing as it was without the distractions of a lamb in class.

In Humpty Dumpty territory there has been a rash of people falling off walls. Officials are worried by the rising numbers but the King has an easy solution. They should stop counting. It’s such an obvious answer it’s been adopted in other countries where they have either stopped testing or are not reporting numbers that make them look bad.

Old King Cole, merry as he usually is, is missing the company of his fiddlers and wants this to be over. His pipe and his bowl are all very well but somehow they don’t console him.

Poor Bo Peep feels like she has lost her youth, the best years of her life. She can’t get out and meet friends and stands no chance of romance or fulfilling her life ambitions. Hopefully, if she ‘leaves things alone’ , doesn’t dwell on how grim it all is, her dreams will come home ‘wagging their tails behind them.’

If you want to visit gran is a riff on the nursery rhyme ‘pop goes the weasel’ it points up the irony of having a little more freedom with relaxation of UK lockdown rules as long as you don’t plan on visiting an elderly relative. ‘Pop goes the weasel’ doesn’t make much sense but neither do the rules.

Four and Twenty Londoners baked in a pie is a Covid take on Sing a Song of Sixpence. The latest Government advice is to get back to work but avoid public transport. For many Londoners that’s contradictory advice leading to inevitable scenes of crowded tubes and trains crammed in like blackbirds into a pie. The perfect Petri dish to bake a virus in.

While the Old Folks die is a take on Kipling’s poem the Smugglers with it’s refrain ‘Watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by’. It highlights the plight of Care Homes and their elderly residents while the government have been focussed on hospitals.

If you want to visit gran

Seems like you can ride a bike

Even drive a vehicle

But if you go and visit gran

Pop goes the weasel!

You can play a round of golf

Visit garden centres

But take the kids to see their gran

Pop goes the weasel!

See your friends out in the park

Only one not several

But leave your granny well alone

Or pop goes the weasel.

Fine for kids to go to school

Back to work for workers

You can have a cleaner round

But stay out granny’s garden.

Half a pound of tuppenny rice

Half a pound of treacle

That’s the way the money goes

Pop goes the weasel.

Poor Bo Peep

Little Bo Peep
has lost her youth
her best years
are confounded.

She’s all alone
stuck in at home
and can’t get out
to party.

How will love come
to one so alone?
She doesn’t know
where she’ll find it.

She’ll sit on her own
Call friends on her phone
But all of her dreams
are thwarted.

She’ll leave them alone
till better days come
and the bad days
will be well behind her.

Sad King Cole

Old King Cole

was a merry old soul

the lockdown didn’t suit him.

If this carries on,

thought the merry old soul

they might as well just shoot him.

He called for his pipe

he called for his bowl

but somehow

they didn’t console him.

Where are my fiddlers

fiddlers three

music, laughter dancing?

Strike up a fiddle

give me a song

brighten up my day.

How much longer will it be

that this thing still goes on?

I’d like to wake up

have the whole thing gone

and find it all a dream!

Humpty Dumpty Fell Off A Wall

Any resemblance to recent events is unintended and purely coincidental.

Humpty Dumpty
fell off a wall
The King and his men
weren’t happy at all.

There’s too many falling
Too many ill
The numbers are rising
They’re going up still.

All the Kings horses
and all the Kings men
Couldn’t get numbers
To come down again.

There’s too many poorly
And flat on their back
It’s clearly a problem
We’ll just have to crack.

But the King said it’s simple
Here’s what we must do
Nothing gets done
If it’s left up to you.

The numbers keep rising
Because you will count
If you stop counting
The numbers won’t mount.

If Humpty’s still broken
We’ll just look away
If nobody sees
Then there’s nothing to say.

Back to school

Mary had a little lamb

They said go back to school

She wasn’t sure if she’d be safe

But they had changed the rule.


Now everywhere that Mary went

The lamb was sure to go

He followed her to school that day

Though Mary didn’t know.


It made the children laugh and play

To see a lamb at school

But as for social distancing

To them it seemed too cruel.


They were so pleased  to see their friends

They laughed and squealed with glee

A lamb in class made them forget

To do things differently.


‘It’s hard enough to keep kids safe,

the lamb should not be here!’

The angry teacher turned him out

But he still lingered near.


He waited patiently there bouts 

for Mary to appear 

She promised she would take him home

And made her anger clear.


“What makes the lamb love Mary so?” 

The eager children cry; 

“She understands the rules so well”

The teacher did reply.

While the old folks die

The U.K. has experienced the highest number of Coronavirus deaths in Europe and a quarter of known coronavirus deaths in Great Britain have happened in care homes but there is still a view we should ‘back Boris’ and not ask awkward questions. It reminded me of Kipling’s poem ‘the Smugglers’ with its refrain, ‘Watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by.’


IF you wake at midnight, a’ sweating at the count

Please don’t blame our leader, should the death toll mount,

Them that don’t ask questions won’t be told a lie.

Back to sleep my darling, while the old folk die.


Don’t go asking questions, 

Best stay in the dark – 

There are daily briefings, questions no one asks

Clapping for the nurses; rules for you and I,

Bite your tongue my darling while the old folk die! 


If you make comparisons and you chance to find 

Evidence that’s mounting up and preying on your mind,

Don’t you shout to come and look, or use it for your play.

Carefully place a lid on it so all’s forgot next day.


If you see the stable-door setting open wide;

If you see an argument crudely brushed aside

If you see the minister’s cut about and tore;

If the questions are too tough – don’t you ask no more ! 


If you meet apologists sharing what they’ve read,

You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.

If they call you ” pretty maid,” and chuck you ‘neath the chin,

Better you just back away and think of giving in. 


If you see an empty bench  – division lobbies dark –

If parliament behaves itself and house-dogs will not bark.

Sir Keir is there, but none to hear, so see how dumb they lie

They don’t fret or holler out when the old folks die ! 


‘If you do as you’ve been told, ‘maybe there’s a chance,

They will get you back to work, or picking fruit perchance,

You’ll get to see a relative or play a game of golf

They’ll let you have a cleaner in; but keep your granny out.


Five and twenty briefings, 

Still we’re in the dark – 

Swerve the awkward questions, silence awkward folk

Them that don’t ask questions isn’t told a lie – 

Bite your tongue my darling while the old folks die!

Four and twenty Londoners crammed in a Pie

Workers in U.K. have been advised to get back to work if they can’t work at home but to avoid public transport; contradictory advice if you live or work in a big city like London, so the result has been predictable, packed tubes and buses.

Sing a song of sixpence

Whose scared to die?

Four and twenty Londoners

Crammed in a Pie.


When the pie was opened

They all began to sing—

It’s the perfect petri dish

To catch a virus in.


The king is in his counting house

Disinfecting money,

The queen avoids the London bus

Though she needs some honey.


The maid is on the underground

Covering up her face

Along comes the virus

She’s another case.


Sing a song of sixpence,

Who wants to die?

Four and twenty Londoners

Baked in a pie.


When the pie is opened

They all begin to sing—

Isn’t that a dainty dish

To set before the king?