Forgotten nursery rhyme
Anyone else know this one?
24 August 2013
When I was a child my dad used to recite this delightful and whimsical nursery rhyme:
As I was walking on Westminster Bridge
One Wednesday afternoon
A man in a bus, he made a great fuss
And said: "Too late! Too soon!"
"Too late and too soon for what?" I cried
On Westminster Bridge, "You Loon!"
"Too late," he replied, "For the turn of the tide"
"Too soon for the rise of the moon."
This sounds like the sort of rhyme that might date back to Victorian times, but I believe it was in fact an entry for a competition in the New Statesman, maybe in the 1950s. I have never met anyone outside my own family who has heard it, and my search for it on Google drew a blank, which suggests that perhaps it has completely disappeared from public consciousness.
These days, the web, and particularly Google, is becoming the depository of human knowledge, so that's why this blog is dedicated to the Westminster Bridge nursery rhyme, to save it for posterity (or for a few years, at least).
In June 2016 I was contacted by Lesley Ronaldson, who had come across my blog by chance. She remembered the rhyme too - her dad had taught it to her sometime in the mid 1950s. Like me, she thought it came from the New Statesman. Then in September 2017, I spotted a tweet by somebody who had been involved with judging New Statseman puzzle entries. I contacted him, and he put me in touch with the New Statesman competition historian, Bill Greenwell. Within 24 hours Bill had sent me the original clipping featuring the Westminster poem. But it wasn't from the New Statesman, it was from The Observer's 1948 Christmas competition. The wording was almost identical to how I remembered it, with one important difference. The original starts 'As WE went over Westminster Bridge". I think I prefer the "I" in my dad's version. It makes the rhyme more personal.