Iona and Peter Opie were pioneers in collecting children's playground rhymes and games - just in time, because by the 1970s most had disappeared. Many of the rhymes they recorded for posterity in their 1959 book The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren show an attractively ecentric and surreal British sense of humour, and also reflect well-known songs, sayings and adverts from the period. Here is a few of the most amusing.
"A bug and a flea
Went out to sea
Upon a reel of cotton
The flea was drowned
But the bug was found
Biting a lady's bottom."
"The boy stood on the burning deck
Melting with the heat.
His big blue eyes were full of tears
And his shoes were full of feet."
"Good King Wenceslas looked out
In his pink pyjamas.
What do you think he hollered out?
Lovely ripe bananas!"
"Salome was a dancer,
She danced the hootchie-cootch.
She shook her shimmy shoulder
And she showed a bit to much.
'Stop,' said King Herod,
'You can't do that 'ere!'
'Baloney!' said Salome
And she kicked the chandelier."
"Hark, the jelly babies sing,
Beecham's Pills are just the thing,
They are gentle, meek and mild,
Two for a man and one for a child.
If you want to get to heaven
You must take a dose of seven;
If you want to go to hell,
Take the blinking box as well."