And lo, it came to pass that I realised quite how out of date and unrealistic nursery rhymes are.
What am I teaching my children? It’s bad enough that one of them thinks there’s a Gruffalo hiding in the back garden without them assuming that horticultural success can be achieved simply by the addition of expensive campanological implements, Cerastoderma edule and a line of random tarts fresh from Sea Point Main Road.
So, I was lying in bed this morning thinking of how one could best update and refresh nursery rhymes to actually be relevant to South Africa today. And I reckon there’s some mileage in this one, since observational humour is da bomb over here right now. And remember, we’re laughing with ourselves, not at ourselves. Sort of.
Let’s look at Little Bo Peep as our first example. And if you are more than 12 years old or you don’t have kids, allow me to remind you of the folly of the original prose:
Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep,
And doesn’t know where to find them.
Leave them alone and they’ll come home,
Wagging their tails behind them.
One can learn so much from those four simple lines.
Employment Equity – as described in the Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998 – details how affirmative action should be applied wherever possible to ensure that previously disadvantaged groups are given preference when applying for employment. Wonderful. But look, women (a previously disadvantaged group) are simply not suited to some positions of responsibility*.
Take Little Bo Peep. She is obviously just not cut out to be a shepherd. Her one task: look after the sheep. Failed.
I’m not generalising here**, but the chances are that she was on Mxit or chatting with her friend about how fat Little Miss Muffet has got lately or something and turned around to find her flock had been stolen.
Her lack of height probably doesn’t help either: a taller ovine guardian would be able to see over the unkempt grass.
And now she doesn’t know where to find them. Well, surprise, surprise.
Actually, not. Given that a woman’s sense of direction is about as good as that of a fridge, I’m not shocked at all. However, one thing in her favour is that she may at least ask passers-by if they have seen her sheep. A male shepherd would merely set about finding them himself, probably with equally limited success. Though decorating the local streetlamps with a myriad of poorly photocopied A4 “Missing Sheep” posters, as people seem to do when looking for “Lucky” their Jack Russell (later often found to be a misnomer of note), would probably not assist.
The bad news is, since sheep are also pretty rubbish with directions, it’s highly unlikely that they will merely just arrive back in their field by chance. This is assuming that they have “just wandered off” and not been stolen. In these tough economic times, lamb, mutton and wool are sought-after commodities and desperate thieves will steal anything that’s not nailed down. Sadly (for the sheep), I think the most likely place for them to be found is in pieces on a braai or in a big steaming pot over a fire. And those sort of temperatures are going to render the Altech-Netstar tracking device that Little Bo Peep’s boss installed, useless.
Sure, they may have found Annanias Mathe, but he wasn’t being slowly grilled over hot coals. Although, maybe he is being now.
So, in summary, we have a wholly inept shepherdess, employed not because of her skills, but because of her demographic. Not only does she manage to lose the sheep, she has no idea where to even begin to look for them. And let’s face it, it’s completely unrealistic to expect their safe return.
Yet I’m supposed to relay this information to my offspring as being gospel, despite the fact it’s undeniably irrelevant and incorrect. Complete fantasy. No chance.
Next week, I’ll address the utterly stupid tale of Jack and Jill, exploring the issues of siting a wellpoint at the top of a hill, basic time management in sending two people to do the job of one in the modern corporate world and the medico-legal implications of using ethanoic acid and parcel wrapping to staunch bleeding from a severe head wound.
* [sits back and awaits the firestorm.]
** No… wait… actually, I am.