Songs for babies

Jeremy wasn’t having a very good day yesterday, so his mummy wasn’t, either. It was probably her own fault, really. She just didn’t seem to be able to understand what Jeremy was communicating to her – quite clearly, he thought – about what was the matter with him, and what he wanted to put it right. You see, she’d told him that Granny and Grandpa were coming to see him today. And – where were they, then? They weren’t there! He got himself quite worked up, he wanted to be wide awake when they came, but then he got more and more tired and fussed and didn’t know what to do with himself.

What eventually got him quietly asleep on Grandpa’s shoulder

was Grandpa singing to him. The song went like this:

Oh, the green wothe botheth every day
The green wothe keeps on bothing
It botheth in the morning light
And it keeps on bothing –
All the livelong night.1

When Grandpa got home at the end of a long, tiring day, he thought he would sleep really well all night long. But instead he was awake before the alarm, suddenly remembering how he used to sing to Jeremy’s Uncle Tom when he was little. It was a different song, because Grandpa was quite learned in those days, and he remembered singing it in the JCR at Cranmer Hall. It went like this:

Thoberamus Bobaramusque, what are you doin’?
Thoberamus Bobaramusque, you’ll be my ruin.
Thoberamus Bobaramus, aut semper aut tunc,
Thoberamus Bobaramus, dic mihi Quod nunc?

Jeremy wonders if other people’s grandpas sing nonsense songs to them, too?

  1. Devotees of James Joyce will recognise that this is the young Stephen Dedalus’s song.

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