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