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Hole in a bucket

Today’s post is going to be about those weird songs we sometime sing to pass the time. Now, have you ever noticed how much the songs don’t make sense?

For example, the “99 bottles of beer” on the wall song. When you really think about it, the song is not just annoying, it makes no sense. Where and why would anyone put 99 bottles of beer on the wall? I wonder how many people can say they have sung this song in its entirety?

I remember my mom and grandmother often singing “The hole in the bucket” song. Don’t know it? It goes like this:

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.
With what should I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza,
With what should I fix it, dear Liza, with what?
With straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, with straw.
But the straw is too long, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The straw is too long, dear Liza, too long.
So cut it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
So cut it dear Henry, dear Henry, cut it!
With what should I cut it, dear Liza, dear Liza,
With what should I cut it, dear Liza, with what?
With an axe, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With an axe, dear Henry, an axe.
But the axe is too dull, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The axe is too dull, dear Liza, too dull.
So, sharpen it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
So sharpen it dear Henry, dear Henry, sharpen it!
With what should I sharpen it, dear Liza, dear Liza,
With what should I sharpen, dear Liza, with what?
Use the stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Use the stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, the stone.
But the stone is too dry, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The stone is too dry, dear Liza, too dry.
So wet it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
So wet it dear Henry, dear Henry, wet it.
With what should I wet it, dear Liza, dear Liza,
With what should I wet it, dear Liza, with what?
With water, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With water, dear Henry, dear Henry, water.
With what should I carry it, dear Liza, dear Liza,
With what should I carry it dear Liza, with what?
Use the bucket dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Use the bucket, dear Henry, dear Henry, the bucket!
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were this “dear Liza” I would have lost it for the “dear Henry” ages ago. They probably lived in the countryside for Henry not to go out and buy a new bucket. One of my friends swear by masking tape, but I suppose it was written in the days before masking tape was even invented.
I remember learning a song in the second grade, but all I remember is this:
We’re going on a bearhunt. x2
We’re going to catch a big one. x2
I’m not scared. x2
I know of one sung in Afrikaans. “Daar’s ‘n gat in die grond, en die groen gras groei daarom”.  It’s also sung in reverse and with each round, a new element is added.
Gat in die grond, en die groen gras groei daarom
En in die gat is ‘n boom
En op die boom is daar ‘n tak
En in die tak is daar ‘n mik
En in die mik is daar ‘n nes
En in die nes is daar ‘n voël
En op die voël is daar ‘n vlerk. 
En in die vlerk is daar ‘n veer. 
En op die veer is daar ‘n luis…
How many more songs like these do you know?

Igpay Atinlay

Ancay ouyay eadray isthay? Ancay ouyay understandway isthay?

Iway asway oingday away osswordcray ethay otherway ayday andway ethay answersway asway inway Igpay Atinlay.

Atwhay isway Igpay Atinlay?

Itway isway isthay awesomeway anguagelay amegay erewhay ouyay ewriteray ethay ordsway inway odecay. Ethay inishedfay oductpray eadsray ikelay onsensenay.

Erehay areway omesay examplesway:

ananabay isway banana
ice tray isway trice
earth day isway dearth
underway isway wunder
outstay isway stout


If you want to know what I wrote above use 

My Nonsense Alphabet

A – Absurdity, applesauce
B – Bilge, baloney, BS
C – Claptrap, codswollop
D – Drivel, Dada, dribble
E – Empty talk, eyewash
F – Fudge, Flim flam, farce
G – Gab, gibberish, Greek, gobbledygook
H – Hogwash, hokum, horsefeathers
I – Idiocy, idle talk, insane
J – Jabber, jargon
K – Kookiness, knick-knack
L – Ludicrous, loony
M – Marlarkey, mumbo jumbo, mummery
N – Nonsense, nuts
O – Out of one’s mind
P – Poppycock, potty
Q – Quackery, QI
R – Ridiculous, rubbish, razzmatazz, random,
S – Silly, slipslop
T – Tommyrot, twaddle
U – Unmeaningness, unreason
V – Verbiage
W – Waffle, wacko
X –
Y – Yakking, Ya-ta-ta, yap
Z – Zany

I need help with the letters Q and X. Anyone?

Nothing = Nonsense

Do you know what I realised a while back? I realised there is no such thing as ‘nothing’. And yet, why do we have a word to describe such a concept?

The MacMillan dictionary describes it as such:
– not anything as in its ‘not a thing’ or ‘no thing’, no matter
– nothingness: the complete lack of existence, life, or any quality/empty space
– zero

What do I understand as nothing? An empty space, a blank page, a vacuum, a dark hole.

I remember way back when I was in primary school and in mathematics class we had this whole discussion of what is nothing/zero. Some pupils and their parents were adamant that 0 + 0 = 1

If we follow their logic it means that those two zeros aren’t really nothing but something.

When I think about that debate it reminds me of George Orwell’s classic “Nineteen eighty four” (BIG SPOILER ALERT). When the hero of the story meets Big Brother the latter try to convince him that 2 + 2 = 5 

These two events may seem absurd at first, but what if they are right?

In school we were taught to accept these things as the truth. But when I went to university we were taught to question everything. But why is it so? (That’s one thing that still bothers me about the school system – we were not given time or the option to question things).

What do I understand as a vacuum? According to the MacMillan dictionary it is a physical term which describes “a space that has had all the air and any other gases removed from it.”

In science, there is no such thing as nothing. Physicists even argue that there is still something in a vacuum. There will still be forces acting in on it such as gravity, forces that can be measured.

If you can define it, that means it has properties, and if it has properties it is something – (

If you look around you it seems like there is empty space, but there is still atoms and bacteria floating around – things so small it cannot be perceived by the naked eye.

99.999% of every atom is itself made up of empty space. (

If you could eliminate all matter, you will still be left with something. This is where the Higgs Boson comes in.

Even if we use it in a social context, it is always something.

Whenever a man asks a woman if something is wrong and she replies “nothing” don’t let that fool you! There is always something that he did wrong or shouldn’t have said.

Go look in the dictionary, all the phrases we use with the word “nothing” in it always implies something. For example:

  • “nothing doing” used for refusing a request or saying that something is not possible
  • “there’s nothing in it” used when you are saying that something is not true
  • “nothing of the kind/sort” used for emphasizing that you disagree with someone’s statement, or that you refuse to let someone do something

How can you disagree with something that does not exist?

According to the Greek logician Thales, there can only be nothing if there is no one there to contemplate it. 

It’s the same with the dilemma: if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? If no one is there to hear it fall does it mean it didn’t fall?

I think it is nonsense that we have a word that describes a thing that supposedly doesn’t even exist.




Technology is nonsense

I am a very old-fashioned chick when it comes to technology. Especially phones. I was very happy with my Blackberry phone that I carried for five years. I loved the keyboard buttons. My friends and colleague were very annoyed with me and tried to persuade me to get a new phone: one of those touch screeny ones. Being the stubborn ass that I am, I refused.

I always knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. But I assumed it would just die on me one day. But it was worse.

I went through a nightmare week when I lost my phone. It’s the worst feeling: that dread you feel when you think you lost it. The worst is I’m not sure how I lost it. I remember when I last had it. We were at Phat Panda waiting for our order. I was fumbling with my phone and distinctly remember putting it in my handbag when we got up to leave. It was only afterwards at work I realized I couldn’t find my phone. I was in a frenzy. We retraced all my steps: where I’ve been the last hour and so on, but it still baffles me.

The first two days were the hardest part. Always wanting to check my phone and remembering I don’t have one any more. Worrying if my phone is okay (hey! Don’t judge me it was my companion and friend for 5 years!), worrying if someone found it or stole it and if they would use whatever they found on my phone against me. (Come on, we all have our dirty little secrets!) Or even worse, use information on my cellphone to steal my identity!

So I was forced to get a new phone. And unfortunately they do not manufacture Blackberries with buttons any more. I have an LG one with a touch screen. I absolutely loath it. I do not understand WiFi. With my Blackberry I didn’t need it. I’m trying to read the user guide as quickly as possible on my off weekend I might add. It seems every time I want to use the Internet or apps I must be connected to the WiFi. And the WiFi differs from place to place. Sometimes its free and sometimes you need a password. Great… more hassle.

I thought technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not more complicated! Until I figure out the connectivity thing I cannot contact the outside world. And oh, I supposedly kept my old SIM card and cellphone number but I can’t find anything that was stored on my old SIM card. What’s the point of that?

So I got a phone with a stronger screen (I don’t want one of those flimsy ones that when you accidentally let it fall the screen cracks – I’ve heard enough horror stories!) and it has a longer battery life. Remember the days when your phone lasted up to 5 days without charging it?

Funny enough, the few days without the phone (and ruling out the withdrawal symptoms) the experience was quite liberating. It’s nice not to have a phone as an excuse not to look at other people. Or talk to them. It was nice not having to know the latest news or gossip.

Do you still remember what it was like when our lives weren’t ruled by cellphones? I sometimes wonder if we weren’t better off then…


The Father of Nonsense



I’ve written about Lewis Carroll aka Charles Dodgson before, but this post is a mere celebration of his two books: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there”.

As a child I was always fascinated by the story of Alice in Wonderland and the possibility of entering such a dreamworld.

Everyone is familiar with Alice and her Wonderland: young and small, big and grownup either by bedtime story, Disney animation or if you only recently watched Tim Burton’s version. Everyone knows the beloved characters: the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, The Red Queen and her stolen tarts “Off with his head!”, the Mad Hatter and March Hare at their bizarre Tea-party.

I’ve always assumed it was just one big tale, but realized that Alice in fact went on two separate journeys: the first following the White Rabbit through the rabbit-hole and the second, climbing through the looking glass. But it is only on her second journey where we meet or hear about The Jabberwocky, The Garden of Live Flowers and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. I love the way Lewis uses unusual sports: croquet and chess in his stories. Through the looking glass’s structure is in fact based on a chess problem created by Lewis.

Back cover: 

Alice i s one of the most beloved characters of English writing. A bright and inquisitive child, one boring summer afternoon she follows a white rabbit down a rabbit-hole. At the bottom she finds herself in a bizarre world full of strange creatures, and attends a very odd tea party and croquet match. This immensely witty and unique story mixes satire and puzzles, comedy and anxiety, to provide an astute depiction of the experience of childhood.

First published: 1865 & 1871

And perhaps I should also mention that her character was based on a real girl called Alice Liddell.

My favourite quote is this:

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice. ‘You must be,’ said the Cat. ‘Or you wouldn’t have come here.’

So there you have it. Lewis Carroll’s creations are only for those mad enough to venture into his dreamworld.



I remember way back in primary school we had an English teacher that read to us every Friday if we behaved. That must sound really dull to you, but for me it was the equivalent of someone rubbing my back. Always relaxing. I remember she read to us: The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and some other story that I can’t remember the title of except it was about a child living in a cold, dark cave.

Anyway, recently, I’ve become very nostalgic about books and wanted to relive my youth: and what better way than through Roald Dahl’s “The BFG”?

Back Cover:

“Me gobbling up human beans! This I never! I is the only nice… Giant in Giant Country. I is the Big Friendly Giant!”

Luckily for Sophie, who has been snatched from her bed by him, the BFG is far more jumbly than his disgusting neighbours. They guzzle and swallomp nice little chiddlers. So Sophie and the BFG cook up an ingenious plan to rid the world of trogglehumping giants for ever!

What I like about this book:

Roald Dahl is a very good storyteller and he knows how to use (or in this case create) the words to his advantage. I haven’t written anything about anything nonsensical in a long while: Roald Dahl is a perfect example of using Nonsense words. Here are just some of my favourite: scrumdiddlyumptious, snozzcumbers, frobscottle and whizzpoppers, crockadowndillies.

You can also find a lot of life truths in the book, such as:
“Giants is not very lovely, but they is not killing each other. Nor is crockadowndillies killing other crockadowndillies… Human beans is the only animals that is killing their own kind.”

First published: 1982

Rating: 5/5

Napowrimo Day 11 (2)

Ek het ‘n gedig probeer skryf met die fokus op afkortings. NEEM ASB KENNIS: HIERDIE IS PURE NONSENS GEDIGTE

Met afkortings wat lees soos woorde (11 April)

Die Rus. dra ‘n mus.
Hy drink Port. en luister metal.
Sy vrou is bot. en het maar min.
Hulle kan Mal. gaan maar dis eintlik teen die wet.

Sonder afkortings:

Die Russies dra ‘n musiek
Hy drink Portugees en luister metalurgie
Sy vrou is botanies en het maar mineralogie
Hulle kan Maleis gaan maar dis eintlik teen die wetenskap.

Dis weird maar die tweede een maak ook sin

Nonsense stories from the past

I just remembered about this story earlier this week. I remember when I read it the first time I was so impressed with it, I had to write it then. Please note: I was 11 or 12 years old and had no idea about Plagiarism. I’m not even sure I can put this on my blog without it being plagiarism? But it’s not like I’m claiming this is my work or not going to reference it. And I’m certainly not making money out of my blog… I think the story is from the book Arabian Frights by Michael Rosen . It is a scholastic Little Hippo Paperback book. Anyway, see if you can guess which story this is based on

Toe Tight and the seven daffs” 

Once long a goat in the widdle of winter when the toe was falling, a Green sat doing her snowing. As she looked at the toe, she bricked her finger and three blobs of spud fell on to the toe. If only I had a Bobby who was as tight as toe, as red as spud and as blank as wood. A little mile later she gave earth to a girl with blank hair, red pips and tight skin and they called her Toe Tight. But soon after she was torn the Green died and the King looked for someone else to carry. The woman he carried, the new Green, was beautiful. She had a Midget Miller and she kept looking at her shelf and saying:

“Miller Miller on the wart

who is the most beautiful of us, sport?”

The Miller said: “You, oh Green, you are”

But as Toe Tight grew bolder, she became more and more beautiful until one day, when the Green spoke to the Miller, he said:

“Oh Green you are beautiful it’s true,

but Toe Tight is more beautiful than stew.”

The Green was very hungry. One day she sent for a Grunter and said: “Get that girl out of here. Take her to the florist and chill her. Bring me her river to prove that you’ve done it.” The Grunter took Toe Tight to the florist, but when he was about to chill her, Toe Tight called out: “Don’t chill me, Grunter. Let me run a whale.” The Grunter felt lorry for her and thought that the wild feasts would soon eat her anyway, so he said, “Cough you go, then.” He chilled a wild beer and took it’s river back to the Green. Toe Tight ran a whale as fast as she could till she came to a little horse. Everything was very neat and toady but very very small. On the stable there was seven little plagues and seven little cops. By the wall there were seven little beads. Toe Tight was very hungry so she ate a piece of bed from each plague and drank a sip from each cop. Then she was tired, so she lay down on one of the beads and fell a slop. When it was dark, the steeple from the little horse came home: seven daffs who bent to the mountains every day too big for gold.

“Who has been sitting in my hair?” said one.

“Who’s been oozing my plague?” said another.

“Who’s been eating my bed?” said the third.

“Who’s been eating my parrots?” said the fourth.

“Who’s been using my fort?” said the fifth.

“Who’s been using my fife?” said the sixth.

Who’s slopping in my bead?” said the seventh.

Toe Tight woke up. “What’s your game?” said the daffs. “Toe Tight.”  “How did you get fear?” Toe Tight told them what had happened. “You can stay here, Toe Tight,” they said, “but watch out for the Green. She’ll soon find out you’re fear. Don’t let anyone in.” Back at the police, the Green stood in front of the Miller.

“Miller Miller on the wart

who is the most beautiful of us, sport?”

And the Miller said:

“You, oh Green, are beautiful, it’s true,

but Toe Tight is more beautiful than stew.

She has found a place too stale

with seven daffs far a whale.”

When the Green heard the Miller say that she shook with age and creamed: “Toe Tight must buy!” Then she went to a secret groom and prepared a very poisonous grapple. It looked nice, with red chicks, but anyone who bit off a trunk would buy. Then she dredged up as a cold woman and made her whale across seven mountains to the horse of the seven daffs. The Green knocked and Toe Tight came to the bingo. “I can’t let anyone in,” she said. “The seven daffs won’t let me.” “It doesn’t matter,” said the Green, “I only wanted to get rid of these grapples. Here, I’ll give you one as a pheasant.” “No,” said Toe Tight, “I musn’t.” “Are you afraid of poison?” said the Green. “Look, I’ll hut it in calf. You have the red git and I’ll have the green git.” But the Green had been Trevor – only the git was poisonous. Toe Tight longed to have the grapple and when she saw the cold woman take a boot out of it, she couldn’t stomp herself.  She held out her hand and took the poisonous calf. But the moment she took a boot out of it she fell to the oar, dud. Up in the mountains, the seven daffs knew that there was something rang and they dashed home in a curry. They found Toe Tight flying on the oar. No broth came out of her moth. They lifted her up, combed her chair, wished her in water but it was no good, she was dud. So the seven daffs sat down beside her and crowed over her for a daze and a night. They got Teddy beard to bury her in water, but she looked so French and alive. “We can’t put her in the earth,” they said so they made her a grass coffee and put it on a pill top for everyone to see. Even the beards came to wee for Toe Tight.

One day, a Mince came to the pill and he saw Toe Tight. “Let me have the coffee,” he said. “I’ll pay you as much as you like for it.” “We wouldn’t part with it for all the honey in the wild,” said the daffs. “Then give it to me,” said the Mince. “I would like to cook on this Toe Tight every day for the vest of my life. The daffs took putty on him and gave him the coffee. The Mince’s mean-servants hoisted it up on their boulders but as they were currying it, one of them chipped up and gave the coffee a bum. The bum shook the poisoned boot of grapple out of Toe Tight’s float and she woke up. She sat up in the coffee and said: “Where am I?” “With me, the MInce,” said the Mince. “Will you come to my father’s car school and be my whiff?” Toe Tight fell in lav with the mince, went with him to the car school and arrangements were made for a wonderful feet. The Whacky Green was invited to the weeding. Before she came she went to her Midget Miller and asked:

“Miller Miller on the wart

who the most beautiful of us, sport?”

And once more the Miller replied:

“Oh Green you are beautiful it’s true,

but Toe Tight is more beautiful than stew.”

In a great reage, she smashed the Miller against the wart. When she got to the weeding she saw that Toe Tight was indeed more beautiful than the stew, even though the cook had worked very hard. But the Mince looked lovely, too. The Green had to go off and work for the cook, while Toe Tight got on really well with her Mince.

The review reads: “The book has a selection of traditional stories which are turned into nonesense stories, such ‘Toe tight and the seven Daffs’ and ‘Hot Cross Bums’ ” Here’s a link if you don’t believe me

Toe Tight and the seven daffs

Back to the Roots

Sometimes I get a little distracted and for the last posts I strayed a lot from the topic. I started some research in the Dada movement and the Dadaists.

What is Dada?

It was an art movement in the European Avant-garde in the early 20th century. No one is sure when it exactly started. Most websites state it was started in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916, but the New York Dada group has already existed since 1915.

According to Dona Budd, Dada was born out of the negative reaction to the horrors of World War I. It became an international movement and was started by a group of artists and poets associated with the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.

Dada was so revolutionary because it rejected reason and logic and embraced nonsense, irrationality and intuition.

Dada is anti-art. Dada represented the opposite of art. If art embraced traditional aesthetics, Dada ignored it; if art appealed to sensibilities, Dada intended to offend.

The Dadaists were against bourgeouis nationalist and colonist interests which they believed was the root cause of the war.

According to Marc Lowenthal “Dada is the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, the prelude of postmodernism, influence of pop art and it laid the foundation for Surrealism.

Interesting fact: Dada in French means “hobby-horse”.