This will come as no surprise to most people, but parenting is hard, really hard, and often you will go to extreme measures just to make it that little bit easier for yourself.
Nevertheless, there are people out there who are adamant that their children will not watch television, will not play computer games, and will certainly not be eating chocolate and sweets under any circumstances.
These idiots fall into two groups:
Group 1 – The Naïve
The first group contains those still expecting their first child, or relatively new to parenthood, who naively believe that they will be different, and that their child will live a wholesome television-free existence, while eating quinoa salad rather than turkey dinosaurs. Most will learn, in time, that their pre-birth ideologies were nothing more than unrealistic bullshit.
The reason for this naivety, is often because they are blissfully unaware just how long a child can scream at you before you finally give in and let them have what they want. Children may start out tiny, but they have the lung capacity of an Olympic swimmer and the dogged determination to match. Frankly, it’s a miracle that screaming children aren’t used as a form of torture, as the best spies in the world would eventually buckle under the pressure.
Group 2 – The Bohemians
This is where we find the real nut-jobs. These people are the extremists, who stick to their stupid belief system even once their offspring are older, imposing a strict ‘no TV, internet, computer games or sugary crap’ policy, despite a wealth of evidence that their children will eventually grow up to be weird. Invariably, by the time they realise the error of their ways (if they ever do), the child in question has already become ostracised from their classmates (assuming they aren’t being home-schooled too), and is far more likely to kill in the future – even though they have never witnessed any violence, because they aren’t allowed television or computer games. Irony much?
I accept that parents should restrict the amount of television their child watches, obviously, but a bit of fun and a fucking potato waffle every once in a while isn’t going to kill them.
There was a family like this on our road when I was growing up. Eventually, once the children reached secondary school age, the rules were relaxed slightly and they were allowed to watch television in moderation, so long as they avoided programmes ‘with black people in’. I shit you not. How can anyone have grown up during the 1990s and not known all the words to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Now, I’m not suggesting all of Group 2 are also racists, but extremist parenting is often indicative of extremist views and opinions.
Anyway, this second category of people are thankfully in a minority, and most parents realise, either before having children, or soon after the little demons are born, that you sometimes need to give them what they want, if it only means they will shut the hell up once in a while.
Unfortunately, this often means turning off that episode of 24 (which you know was just getting good, because Jack had just shouted “Damn it!” at no one in particular), and suffering some awful children’s programme instead, like Baby Jake or, heaven forbid, In The Night Garden (which is just about the most messed-up viewing experience known to man).
But then you have the problem of what to do at bedtime. Unless you have a television in the bedroom, (which we don’t), you can’t even rely on Igglepiggle sailing around in his crappy little boat, or Upsy Daisy flashing her foof to everyone on the Ninky Nonk, for some much needed peace and quiet.
Thankfully, with the development of smart phones and tablets, you can always rely on the seemingly endless catalogue of child-pleasing entertainment that is YouTube, and it was on one such night, not that long ago, that my wife introduced me to ‘Little Baby Bum’.
If you have young children, there is a good chance you will have heard of Little Baby Bum, or ‘LBB’, as they are now the fourth most profitable YouTube channel in the world. If you haven’t heard of them, let me explain: Little Baby Bum have put together a series of nursery rhyme compilations on YouTube, accompanied by some (frankly bizarre) cartoons, for the sole purpose of getting your child to sleep.
So far, so good.
However, they have then taken it upon themselves to mess around with the rhymes, changing not only some of the words, but in some cases the entire story.
At first I assumed they were an American company, since some of the rhymes are sung with an American accent, and at least this would explain the lyrical variations, but it turns out Little Baby Bum are an English company, so there really is no excuse for such behaviour.
The most popular compilation, entitled “Wheels On The Bus | Plus Lots More Nursery Rhymes | 54 Minutes Compilation”, is the one my wife introduced me to and, astonishingly, it is now the 16th most viewed YouTube clip of all time. It’s more popular than that fat kid with the lightsaber.
Anyway, for those unfamiliar with LBB’s work, let me direct you to some edited ‘highlights’ of this YouTube phenomenon, so that you can fully understand my concern. In each case, I will give you the start time for the nursery rhyme in question, so that you can skip straight to it:
0:05 – The Wheels On The Bus
The ultimate classic. The one everyone knows. Surely they can’t get this wrong…. can they? Well, yes, as it happens they can. Firstly, the opening verse should be:
The wheels on the bus go round and round
Round and round
Round and round
The wheels on the bus go round and round
All day long.
Right? Well, for some unknown reason, they have seen fit to change the last line to:
All through the town
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’re all familiar with the subsequent verses about the wipers going swish, the horn going beep, and the children chattering (among others), but for some reason these imbeciles have chosen to add in numerous other, increasingly unlikely, scenarios, such as:
The cow on the bus says ‘moo, moo, moo’ (01:05).
What the fuck is a cow – and by the same token the pig and robot sat behind her – doing on a bus in the first place? And why is she making a phone call, using only the word ‘moo’? I think if we’re to suspend disbelief, and accept that there is a cow travelling on a bus, we might as well give her the ability to speak too. Thinking about it, how did she ask for her ticket? Is the bus driver also fluent in Friesian?
I don’t know why the next verse is about the children going ‘giggle, giggle, giggle’ either, as most kids I know would be terrified of a live cow (or a dead one for that matter) being sat next to them on the bus.
5:34 – One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
In fairness, they haven’t mucked about with the lyrics here, although I have always wondered why there isn’t a better rhyme for ‘nine, ten’ than ‘big fat hen’, but why do we have to suffer a robot doing… erm…. ‘the robot’ as a musical interlude in the middle? It’s the most cringe-worthy robot dance since Peter Crouch last scored.
8:04 – Baa Baa Black Sheep
Amazingly, it isn’t the fact that we have a sheep delivering his own wool which is the weirdest thing about the LBB version of this popular nursery rhyme. It’s that, for reasons unknown, they’ve set it in chuffing space, and the little boy ‘down the lane’ appears to actually be on his own asteroid, well away from his parents (if only….)
10:00 – Ten In The Bed
Another classic, and whilst LBB haven’t altered with the words or tune, they have chosen the ten most unlikely of bed fellows for the accompanying cartoon. The ‘little one’, who of course is the selfish little bastard around whom the rhyme is focused, is for some inexplicable reason a star. Yes, you read that right. And if that wasn’t weird enough, she (I assume it’s a she, based on the pink bow in her ‘hair’, although a cross-dressing star would not surprise me in the slightest at this point) has chosen to shack-up with, among others: the cow and pig from the bus; what appears to be a shaved dog; and, most bizarrely of all, Ernest Borgnine from Airwolf.
18:25 – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Things now get properly weird. This one starts with a gold statue of a boy (who, as it happens, was also in the star’s bed a while back), and a large crowd ogling him and saying how ‘handsome’ and ‘lovely’ he is. I’m not sure where this village is, but the locals need to take a long hard look at their lives.
Anyway, once darkness falls, the statue is all alone and starts crying, so slutty star turns up and brings him to life with some magic dust, before flying him around the world like some LSD-soaked version of The Snowman.
(20:27) – London Bridge Is Falling Down
This one is the final straw. This is where Little Baby Bum have become so detached from reality, their actions are simply inexcusable. Lyrically, it starts as standard:
London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.
I think we can all agree that’s pretty much the accepted wording. But I don’t think any of us thought for one second that the cause of the bridge’s demise might have been a large, green, monster, and that the best solution to this problem would be a flying superhero pig. I wish this was some kind of sick joke, but the lyrics genuinely continue:
Who can help to save the bridge, save the bridge, save the bridge?
Who can help to save the bridge, my fair lady?
Superhero Pig can help, pig can help, pig can help
Superhero Pig can help, my fair lady
Now the monster he has gone, he has gone, he has gone
Now the monster he has gone, my fair lady
Now, I’m all for re-working classics, but this is sheer bastardisation and they’ve gone too far this time.
There’s still another half an hour of this rubbish, but I think I’ve made my point.
In short, Little Baby Bum has done for nursery rhymes what Jive Bunny did for ‘50s music – mashed it all together into one colossal mess. Their compilations are ridiculous, wrong, sacrilegious, and I loathe every second of them.
Isaac, on the other hand – who is, after all, their target audience – bloody loves them. I can’t explain it, but you have to hand it to the people who create children’s TV shows and cartoons like this, they certainly know their stuff. What might seem like utter tripe to you and I, is televisual cocaine to children, and they can stay silently transfixed to the screen for ages – allowing you to eat, sleep, and generally survive as a parent.
I’m therefore in a quandary. I hate LBB with a passion, but I am also eternally grateful to them.
Oh, and Ernest Borgnine from Ten In The Bed? Turns out he’s actually Incy Wincy Spider.