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Bang Bang the Dishes

Bang bang the dishes, children's play / Margaret Osborne, [Helen Osborne?] & [various performers], speech in English

Bang bang the dishes, children's play / Margaret Osborne, [Helen Osborne?] & [various performers], speech in English

MOTHER:  Right! You must go to sleep, and I’m going out to the town and I’ll give you your food when I come back again.

The children snore and the mother goes out.

CHILDREN (loudly):  BANG, BANG THE DISHES! BANG, BANG THE DISHES! BANG, BANG THE DISHES! BANG, BANG THE DISHES!

MOTHER (returning):  Oh! my little children are asleep!

CHILDREN:  Mammy, can we have a cup of tea?

MOTHER:  Oh yes you may. Oh! my good gracious! Who broke all my dishes?

ONE CHILD:  Oh Mammy, a big man came to the door and took all the oranges and broke all the delph.

MOTHER:  Oh, I must find out and see if this is true. (Ringing up) Nine, nine, nine?  Um  – police station? Did you see anyone walking out the Castlerock Road today, or any little children there, round that place?

POLICEMAN:  I saw a little girl with a green pinafore and a white blouse, and a girl with a blue tee-shirt and blue shorts, and lots of others.

MOTHER:  Well, um – did you hear any rattling or anything?

POLICEMAN:  Yes, but I thought the mother was in and I didn’t go in, because I was afraid to go in and  – let  –

MOTHER:  Thank you. (She hangs up) To the children: Right, I’ve a little story to tell you: the policeman said that there was  – all the clothes that you have on you  – that, um, he mentioned all, and they were the exact same colours. And he said that it was yous. Right! You can need a good smacking for that. (She smacks them. They roar and yell.)

Notes from Hugh Shields

Acted in a barn. This curious play occurs in none of our collections but looks quite traditional. It is close to “Mother, the cake is burning” (or Gipsy); see A Gomme’s The traditional games of England, Scotland and Ireland (vol 1, 1964:151); Opie and Opie’s Children’s games in street and playground (1969:317–29). In the mother’s absence, the Gipsy must entice the children away one by one. One might also notice “I’ll follow my mother to market,” in Opie and Opie’s Children’s games in street and playground (1969:104), or, in the same volume, “Old man in the well” (1969:305–7) and “Old mother Grey” (1969:307–10).