Nursery rhymes can be fun, but they can also be a source of great frustration. Haven't you ever started reciting a nursery rhyme and then realized that you didn't remember the whole thing? I don't mind telling you, it's happened to me on numerous occasions. Though I know the beginnings of many delightful nursery rhymes, I can rarely remember how they end. But I recently came up with an ingenious system which puts an end to this problem once and for all. As long as you know one nursery rhyme in its entirety, you need never again be embarrassed or frustrated by incomplete rhymes. It's quite a simple system.
You start with the one nursery rhyme you know in its entirety. In my case it's this one: Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard, to fetch her poor dog a bone, but when she got there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none.
Now here's a rhyme which always gave me trouble: Tom, Tom, the piper's son, stole a pig and away he run . . . I could never remember what came next. So here's how I remedied the situation, by making do with materials that were already at my disposal: Tom, Tom, the piper's son, stole a pig and away he run, but when he got there the cupboard was there, and so poor Tom had none.
And there you have it, a complete nursery rhyme with a minimum of effort!
Here are some more examples, to give you a clear idea of how the system works.
1. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, jack jump over the candlestick, but when he got there the cupboard was bare, and so poor Jack had none.
2. Hey diddle diddle, the can and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon, but when she got there the cupboard was bare, and so the poor cow had none.
3. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, but when they got there the cupboard was bare, so Jack and Jill had none.
4. There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do, but when she got there the cupboard was bare, and so the old lady had none.
5. Jack Spratt could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean, but when they got there the cupboard was bare, so Jack and his wife had none.
6. Three blind mice, three blind mice, see how they run, see how they run, they all ran after the farmer's wife, but when they got there the cupboard was bare, and so the poor mice had none.
7. Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, but when they got there the cupboard was bare, and so the poor birds had none.
8. Peter Peter Pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn't keep her, but when he got there the cupboard was bare, and so poor Pete got none.
Well, I think you've got the idea by now. So now it's time to try some rhymes on your own. Here are a couple of incomplete nursery rhymes. See if you can complete them.
1. Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he, _____________________________________________________________
2. Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock, _____________________________________________________________
Easy, isn't it? Just remember, all you need to know is one complete nursery rhyme and you can be the life of the party, impressing your friends with your vast repertoire of nursery rhymes. And remember too that there's no room for creativity here. Just stick with the basics and you can't go wrong.
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A version of this was published years ago in a magazine called Games, but it was greatly altered. This is the previously published original version.