We all know this English nursery rhyme. Two young’uns go up a hill for some water. But there is a second stanza. ‘Then up Jack got and home did trot. As fast as he could caper. Dame Gill did the job, to plaster his nob, with vinegar and brown paper.’ Note, ‘nob’ means ‘head’ in this context. Not… not the modern meaning. That would be a very different story…
It keeps going, too. ‘Then Jill came in and she did grin, to see Jack’s paper plaster. Her mother put her a fool’s cap on, for laughing at Jack’s disaster. This made Jill pout and she ran out. And Jack did quickly follow. They rode Dog Ball, Jill got a fall. How Jack did laugh and hollow. The Dame came out, to know all about. Jill said Jack made her tumble,’ (but she was lying).
‘Then Jill did say that they should play, at sea-saw a cross the gate. They sea-saw’d high, they sea-saw’d low, at length they both did tumble. Then the next thing, they made a swing. But Jill set up a big cry. For the swing gave way, in the midst of play, and threw her into a pigsty.’
‘While Jack he brawl’d, and Jill joined in the choir, Dog Ball being near, bit sow by the ear. And threw Jack in the mire. And how Jill did jump, with him to the pump, and pump’d on him to clean him,’ (again, not the modern British sense).
‘Dame Gill came out, with a horsewhip from the door, she laid it on Jack and poor Jill’s back, until they both did roar. Ball held sow’s ear, and both in rear, ran against old Dame and hither. That she did fall, over sow and Ball. How Jack and Jill did twiter,’ (not the Twitter).
‘And now all three, went in to see, to put the place to right all. Which done they sup, then drink a cup, and with you a good night all.’
I had to omit two stanzas (out of 15) and over 10 lines. But it’s a hell of a story. About two kids laughing at the pain the other is suffering from. It’s like an 18th century ‘Jackass’. Pushed down a hill. Falling off a dog. Thrown into a pigsty. And a mire. There’s a brawl. The two kids get whipped. And it also involves ‘twiter’ and an old Dame who’s a dab hand at patching nob…
You gotta feel for Jack. First this kerfuffle with Jill, then he has to jump over a fire in ‘Jack Be Nimble’. Then he goes a bit mental and starts bragging about a plum in ‘Little Jack Horner’. In ‘Handy Spandy Jack-a-Dandy’, he is clearly and worryingly addicted to plum cake and sugar candy. In ‘Jack Jingle’, he gets tired of being single and decides he needs a wife. Then, in ‘Jack Sprat’, he develops dietary issues, and then marries a woman who also has dietary issues. And then, in ‘The House that Jack Built’, he builds a house, only for it to become infested with a cat, a rat, a dog, a cow and a cock. He’s also clearly having an affair with some maiden. My money is on Dame Gill. It’s not Jill. She’s probably in rehab by this point.
I presume he decides to climb the beanstalk to get away from his wife…
If I had to choose Jack or Jill, I would go for Jack. Jill is nothing but a complete bastard to poor Jack. And a compulsive liar. She laughs and causes most of his misfortunes, whereas hers are largely accidental, and Jack only laughs because she was laughing at him. He’s the victim in all this, he really is. Jill can sod off for all I care.
Jack is the one I’d choose. All day long…
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