We don’t have a TV aerial in our house, so when we watch anything, it tends to be on DVD. One of the films we sometimes watch with Dora is a frankly astonishing 1980s compilation of classic nursery rhymes. The rhymes are sung by a raft of top folk singers like Martin Carthy, while the stories are acted out in a combination of puppets, animation, or against nascent green screen technology. Taken in one sitting, it’s like Alice is having a nightmare. WHILE in Wonderland. The whole collection swings between the trippy and terrifying, but there are a few surprisingly haunting songs in there. One in particular has stuck with me; it’s an old song, but I don’t think I’d heard it before watching the film. It’s called ‘Soldier Soldier, Won’t You Marry Me?’. It’s a duet between a young lass and a soldier, and it goes a bit like this:
For I have a wife of own…”
It’s really sad, isn’t it? It reminds me of Alan Garner. I sing it to Dora every now and then – it’s one of the few songs she doesn’t try to sing along with. She prefers to listen. It feels curiously grave. And what happens next? Does the sweet maid pine after the soldier, or pick herself up and find another man? I feel like she needs vengeance. I’ve been imagining another verse:
And the sweet maid shot him down…..
It doesn’t make the song any happier, of course, but the soldier needs comeuppance.I haven’t yet decided whether I can sing it to my daughter.