Baa baa black sheep

I was talking to my friend (and copywriter extraordinaire) Sara about the challenges of being a working mother when she said

“It’s funny, but I come up with my best ideas in the shower.”

It was nice to hear I’m not the only one who has epiphanies in the shower. It’s the only 10 minutes i have “to myself” during the day.

During meetings at work I often “almost” start sentences with “In the shower this morning” … but I have to bite my tongue and quickly rephrase the sentence. I’m not sure how productive these meetings would be if everyone else’s creative train of thought is interrupted by unwelcome visualisations of me brainstorming in the shower.

I had an interesting experience 2 years ago when I lived in Chippendale. I’d been happily walking naked from the bathroom to the bedroom for a few weeks before making a detour one day – walking towards our loungeroom windows instead of walking away from them. There was a whole balcony full of men (and one very nicely dressed girl) smoking and smiling at me. I ducked and hid behind the lounge while they finished their cigarettes and emerged mortified once they’d gone back into their office.

A few weeks later I had to meet some graphic designers at a studio on Regent St. They were all extra nice to me and made a point of introducing me to e v e r y o n e in the office. It felt a little unnatural at the time but i assumed they were just being welcoming. After the meeting they suggested I leave by the “back way” and stop in the coffee shop before heading to work. Imagine how I felt to exit onto the rear balcony (in a cloud of cigarette smoke) and look directly into my own apartment.

But anyway… I was thinking again in the shower this morning.

Nothing too profound, but I wanted to share all the same. Did any of you get to read this “news” story on the weekend about Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep? Apparently it’s politically incorrect to say baa baa black sheep because the song has connotations of and/or was written in a time of slavery.

The ludicrosity of this must still be grating on my subconscious.

I feel that telling a child “Oh no we can’t say black any more” will have more of a negative impact than not mentioning it at all. When Miss2 comes out with choice swear words i find it’s more effective to ignore them completely. If i make a big deal out of it she’ll use it more often for special effect. And when she hears something bleeped out on the radio she’ll often ask about it weeks later… “What does xxx mean Mama?”

Beyond minor irritation at the PC police, i was also thinking:

Most modern children will never touch a sheep – let alone participate in a shearing festival or sheep dip day. Many of them will never fully comprehend that men’s business suits are made of sheep fleece. They won’t understand that wool is like hair and grew on a real life animal. Most children will never know the feel and smell of lanolin on their hands.

To paraphrase one of Miss2’s favourite books “Why are children’s stories full of moo cows and baa lambs anyway? Kids will only ever see these animals on a plate. They go ‘sizzle’.”

Another sad thought then occurred to me… What if the adults who banned the black sheep song had never seen a sheep either? (Let alone a black one?)

I studied agriculture at school (another subject taken no further in adult life… like legal, accounting and photography). It was in that classroom, as i dutifully memorised all of the popular sheep breeds for the exam, that thought to myself for the first time “Noah couldn’t possibly have fit all these sheep on the ark. And if he only took one pair of sheep and all these species now exist that only proves micro evolution.”

Beyond the smell of my Great Grandfather’s wool classing apron and the time I touched the electric sheep fence on a dare and lost the use of my right arm for half a day… My most poignant sheep related memory was outside Christchurch New Zealand. The sky was so blue, the grass was so green… but it was the sheep that really stood out. So impossibly blinding white that I assumed they had to have been bleached.

If the same sheep breed were here in Australia they’d look browny grey… Just because of dust.

To end this ode to sheep I want to share with you my absolute favourite species. But before I do, I’d love you to visualise the last time you saw a sheep in real life… ?

This is the Border Leicester:

Black Border Leicester ewe with twin lambs

Black Border Leicester ewe with twin lambs

Out of curiosity, what colour were the sheep you visualised? I’m guessing rainbow?

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7 thoughts on “Baa baa black sheep

  1. Love the idea of the kids book that says it as it is! (Why are children’s stories full of moo cows and baa lambs anyway?)
    Here’s my favourite sheepish tale – We lived on a farm in Derbyshire for a year, and spent the spring keeping an eye on a field of pregnant sheep. Early one morning I was horrified to see (from my bathroom window) one sheep upside down, legs straight up in the air, and sent my husband off to report ‘dead sheep’ to the farmer while I shielded the little ones’ eyes. He matter-of-factly went into the field and up-righted aforesaid sheep, who had merely fallen over in the night and was too pregnant to get herself back up again. I think we all remember that last-trimester-beached-whale feeling…

  2. I’m surprised this is only really just attracting media attention now – they were teaching kids to sing “Rainbow Sheep” nearly 4 years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long) at a school up here when I was nannying. PC gone mad – when I was younger I thought it was about sheep with black wool, as do most kids!

    1. Yeah, i thought it sounded familiar – maybe you told me about it back then? Miss2’s version is pretty cute “One for the master and one for the Dave”… Dave is our local cafe owner whom she adores 😉

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