More Children’s Songs – Polly had a Dolly

Creative Commons (Historical)Another of the songs that Gill, being a Doctor, likes to sing to Caleb is the old nursery rhyme about Miss Polly and her Dolly. The interpretation I hear goes something like this: 2

Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick.
So she phoned for the doctor to be quick, quick, quick.
The doctor came with their bag and their hat
And they knocked at the door with a rat-a-tat-tat.
They looked at the dolly and they shook their head
Because Miss Polly didnt have the $7 for the co-contribution
And Medicare wouldn’t take Monopoly money
So Miss Polly’s Dolly Died Died Died.

This rendition clearly finds its inspiration from the ultra-modernist healthcare zeitgeist, and the growing budgetary pressures placed upon doctors and the system alike. The parable clearly picks up on the discourse surrounding the current contribution system in Australia, while recognising that it is not based on the US model. The repetition in triplicate emphasises some of the urgency of the situation while mirroring the quagmire of political and bureaucratic administrative overheads experienced by those who interact with the system (often in triplicate). The reference to monopoly money hints at the arbitrary nature of the fiscal system, where worthless objects are imbued with a notional value determined by the authoritarian state. While the overuse of plural gender neutral language for singular objects highlights the overly politically correct emphasis of the period.

Finally the macabre ending to the nursery rhyme transforms a child’s ditty into a stark political parable about the state of healthcare in the modern world, while recognising the ultimate futility of the hyper-preservation of life. I see this ditty as being apropos for an Orwellian futuristic vision, perhaps with gas masks and giant TV screens..


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  1. Gill doesn't actually sing this version
  2. Gill doesn’t actually sing this version