Pop Goes the Weasel

Written by Albert Jack
Review by Gwen Sly

Albert Jack only reluctantly took to studying the history of nursery rhymes, but then found it to be his most rewarding work as he discovered a whole secret of meanings incorporated within the rhymes.

How absorbing and fascinating it is to learn that most of the everyday rhymes we repeat as children contain snippets of preserved history. Shakespeare may have written one, Kipling too. They only became known as ‘Nursery’ rhymes during the 18th century, when they were told to children as cautionary tales to instil moral values around which they could build their adult lives. They even contained advice as to healthy eating and good manners!

Mr. Jack also analyses some of our most favourite and well-known traditional songs and anthems; how The Star-Spangled Banner started as a London pub drinking song 200 years ago; Swing Low Sweet Chariot, dear to rugby fans, was written by a freed American slave; and God Save the King was a naval catchphrase during the time of Henry VIII.

There is a slight vagueness with historical dates at times and inaccuracies sometimes creep in, but the hidden history is irresistible, often far from innocent, but preserved for all time.