Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Sailor…

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Yesterday I had conversations with an optometrist, engineer, teacher, banker and insurance man…

I remembered saying, ‘tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief’… whilst counting cherry stones… Whichever word was the final cherry stone indicated my future.

Apparently this goes back to William Caxton’s ‘The Game and Playe of the Chesse (c.1475): the pawns are named: ‘Labourer, Smith, Clerk, Merchant, Physician, Taverner, Guard and Ribald.’ Eight pawns; eight occupations…


The sexist: My version determined what I would be; if a girl said the rhyme it determined whom she would marry.

Is a man still defined by what he does? Is a woman recognised more by her family, who she is? And some jobs more suited specifically to men or women?

We’ve moved a long way since the suffragettes 100 years ago, but ‘equality’ and ‘discrimination’ are still on the agenda…

The good job: I wanted five cherry stones because I’d be a ‘rich man’… I wanted my children, want my grandchildren, to get a ‘good job’.

For some a ‘good job’ is well paid, prestigious, leading to a nice house, new car and security. For others it’s a vocation that brings happiness, satisfaction…

What about jobs that are dull, dirty or dangerous? – What if my grand-children become a bin-man or a ‘Big Issue’ seller…?

The destiny/fate: Can my future be determined by cherry stones… or tea leaves or horoscope? Is my future mapped out and I have to discover that predetermined path? Is life totally random and out of control?

When people say, ‘What will be will be’, do they mean ‘it’s already been decided’ …or what?

I believe that truth lies both in the African-American spiritual: ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’ and St James: ‘I will show you my faith by what I do’. God’s in control, but I’ve got to do my bit – however many cherry stones I have.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: