I was confidently explaining to Jeff how the nursery rhyme ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’ was about the Plague the other day. “One of the symptoms of the Plague was red rings on your limbs”, I explained patiently. “People carried herbs around in their pockets for protection, sneezing was a sign you were about to cark it, and then everyone died.” Well, bollocks Beth. Not true. Turns out that interpretation only cropped up after the second world war and the rhyme dates back to the 1790s. The Great Plague happened in 1665.
This discovery led me to look into a few other nursery rhyme interpretations. Kind of interesting. Mostly not. Except that ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ was biographical. “As a girl, Mary Sawyer (later Mrs. Mary Tyler) kept a pet lamb, which she took to school one day at the suggestion of her brother.” That’s the coolest.
The only vaguely plague-like illness in Sydney these days is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (aka as the decidedly rude coxsackievirus). High temp; ulcers in the mouth; rashes on feet, hands and nappy regions. Went around our mother’s group recently. I don’t remember this virus from my childhood at all. Do you guys? It is really contagious and not to be confused with Foot and Mouth Disease which is sometimes fatal for cloven-hooved animals. Poor cloven-hooved dudes.