Jack Sprat and the Doom of Dogs

Better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!

Many years ago, when my brother and I were young kids our parents would occasionally leave us in the care of our aunts overnight. They lived in a small, yet somehow rambling house in North Perth with our two cousins – both boys about eight years older than us. It can’t have been much fun for them as teenagers babysitting two little kids, but they did a good job and I can’t remember a single incident of teasing or cruelty towards us on their part.

One thing they did do however was teach us two very important and little known facts, which I shall now reveal to the world at large.

The first concerns the gap down the back of an armchair, between the cushions on your couch, or even between a bed and the wall. You may think this is nothing but a depository for loose change, but in fact it is a dimensional portal that opens solely for members of the canine clan. It is The Doom of Dogs!

I have to admit I was a bit shaky on exactly what happens to any pooch that falls into the Doom of Dogs – the cousins seemed a bit shaky on that themselves – but whatever it is it must be fairly terrible because their aged terrier Suzie (her full name was actually Suzie Wong, but that’s a story for another day) would run for the hills whenever we placed her on the couch and started pulling the cushions apart.

(Of course we would never have let her actually fall into the Doom, we were merely using her to demonstrate the concept. Repeatedly. Every time we went over there in fact.)

The second important thing they taught us was the real words to the nursery rhyme Jack Sprat. You are no doubt familiar with the traditional version, learnt from books and at nursery school…

Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean,
And so betwixt them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean,

Well the real version, passed down through our cousins’ family line for generations (or at least since they made it up the previous week) is…

Jack Sprat forgot his back,
His dog was green with envy,
So together they sat, on Old Shag’s back,
And told stupid stories,

Now the meaning of this rhyme (not that it rhymes very much, if at all) is naturally an ancient and terrible secret. I could of course tell you, but then I’d have to condemn you to the Doom of Dogs, and no one wants that…

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