Some years ago, I bought some finger puppets for some young children of my acquaintance.
They were really good quality ones, but a weird combination of animals — parrot, dragon, owl, pig and some others (I forget which exactly, but ten in all).
When questioned, by their mother, precisely which story might be told with them, I suggested The Owl And The Pussycat.
She objected that there was no cat amongst them.
I suggested telling the tale of The Owl And The Pussycat And The Dragon … in which the dragon disguised itself as the pig for the wedding ceremony and then flew out to sea to await the boat and murder the pussycat, to live happily ever after on the inheritance the owl got upon the death of the pussycat ¹.
I wasn’t allowed to tell them that tale.
Nor was I allowed to tell them updated nursery rhymes.
Which was a shame really — I reckon they were pretty good myself ² and far more relevant to kids of today than how to recognise the signs of bubonic plague or how many men the Duke of York had ³.
In fact, I was banned from telling them any fairy tales, nursery rhymes or the like until they reached the age of majority ⁴.
Which seems like a bit of an overreaction to me.
¹ The owl and the dragon were lovers and planned to murder the pussycat all along.
² Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play
He kissed them too
He’s funny that way
… or …
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
But stupid Jill forgot her pill
And now they have a daughter”
³ Although … an argument might be made in favour of retelling that one as a latterday cautionary tale about the dangers of unprotected anal sex.
⁴ Eighteen years of age, to be precise.