Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Wallflower, Wallflower...

Wallflower, wallflower, growing up so high
All the little children are all going-to die
Except [Johnny Smithson] - he's the only one
Fie for shame! Fie for shame!
Turn your back to the wall again

I remember this chant from my childhood, together with vague memories of a game that went with it involving some kind of dropping-out of one kid at a time until the last one was left - perhaps the one who was going to die?

It always struck me as a sinister and unlucky song, and I was very reluctant to sing it, or name anyone as the 'except' person who was not going to die - because of the people I was not naming.

But it has that strange, uncanny power about it that some nursery rhymes retain - the product of being orally-transmitted folklore, handed down among children one generation after another.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Here is a description of the game from 1899: https://books.google.com/books?id=sVY_AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA159

Apparently the song exists (existed?) in America as "Water, water, wild flower": https://books.google.com/books?id=Y10jAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA122

I'm not sure that children's games still work the same way. Communities are too fragile for there to be any continuity for these sorts of things, and television is too ubiquitous