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Monday, September 12, 2011

My mother said, I never should, play with the gypsies in the wood...

My mother used to sing a 'skipping song' that was sung in Kalgoorlie playgrounds in the 1920s/1930s.  She went to North Kalgoorlie Primary School:



The song obviously originated in England and arrived in Australia with the settlers. I loved her to sing it when I was a child - my brothers and I all did - because it had hints of the mysterious. Gypsies, woods, bonnets, alleys. Exciting stuff to children from suburban Perth. There are lots of versions, but I'm fairly sure that this is the one my mother sang. It starts out quite dirge-like, then gradually builds up speed and the last verse is said very fast indeed.

My mother said I never should
play with the gypsies in the wood
If I did she would say
Naughty girl to disobey.

Disobey one, disobey two
Disobey all the waters blue.

I had a bonnet trimmed with blue
Why don't you wear it yes I do
I do wear it when I can
To go out with my young man

My young man has gone to France
To teach the ladies how to dance.
When he comes back he'll marry me,
Give me kisses, One, Two, Three.

Oh – dear – Johnny
Where – have – you – been
All – this – day?’

Down the alley courting Sally
picking up cinders
breaking windows,
riding donkeys
feeding monkeys
ALL DAY LONG.

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