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Rowing with crocodiles

Row, row, row your boat...

Life is but a dream
If you see a crocodile/don't forget to scream
Gently with the tide/to the other side
Throw your teacher overboard/and watch your teacher scream
Something else, to be mentioned in comments

I grew up with the bare minimum of "life is but a dream", with the occasional schoolyard bonus of throwing one's teacher overboard.

Here, the crocodile second verse is mandatory, but somewhat boggling in the way it's worded. What would happen if one absent-mindedly forgot to scream? It's like a bored tourist with a rote travel itinerary: Rowed boat? Check. Saw crocodile? Check. Screamed? Oh, what a waste, I totally forgot to do that.

The crocodile verse, on less frequent occasions, can also lead to lots of other animal variants. ("gently down the river/if you see a polar bear/don't forget to shiver")

The "tide" version I've heard a couple of times, but always at the same place, in a recording.



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:04 pm (UTC)
... gently down the stream,
belts off, trousers down
isn't life a scream?!
Apr. 20th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
Bless Blackadder. ;)
Apr. 21st, 2013 07:35 pm (UTC)
...and I only remembered this version this afternoon after singing the song all weekend.
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC)
My experience with this is essentially the same as yours, but I thought it worth mentioning that our "teacher" variant was "throw your teacher overboard and listen to her scream."

I love the crocodile second verse!
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
Your version of the teacher one makes more sense. watch/scream does have a certain disconnect to it.

I'm not yet quite comfortable with the crocodile verse, thanks to the oddness of "don't forget", but given how frequently I'm encountering it (twice today!) I suspect I shall become accustomed to it eventually despite myself.
Apr. 19th, 2013 07:45 am (UTC)
As above with slight variation: Throw your teacher overboard and then you'll hear her scream.
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
I think my favorite version with animals is "to the other shore/if you see a lion/don't forget to roar".
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC)
I vaguely knew the song with the 'dream' as a child - but it was crocodiles all the way by the time I sang it with my step-daughter in the mid-'90s.
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
Strictly speking "Throw your teacher overboard and listen to her/him scream - but close enough
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:25 pm (UTC)
Gently down the stream. Something something something blah. Life is but a dream.
Apr. 18th, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
'gently down the stream/ Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily/life is but a dream
Apr. 19th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
Exactly this.

I mean, we had "gently down the stream / throw the teacher overboard / then s/he'll really scream", but that was a knowing subversion of the "merrily merrily merrily" version.
Apr. 19th, 2013 12:24 am (UTC)
Yes, this - but not till I was a grown-up, and saw whichever Star Trek movie it was. Until then, all I had ever known/heard was "Row, row, row your boat." I thought it likely that there was more, but half a line was all I had, somehow.
Apr. 19th, 2013 06:17 am (UTC)
Yeah, always this version.
Apr. 19th, 2013 12:24 pm (UTC)
Yup, same here.
Apr. 19th, 2013 12:43 pm (UTC)
Apr. 19th, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
Apr. 20th, 2013 04:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, this.
Apr. 19th, 2013 04:45 am (UTC)
Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream
merrily, merrily, merrily
life is but a dream!
Apr. 19th, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
With the crocodile version and possibly throwing your mother overboard as alternate options.
Apr. 19th, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
Fairly sure it's an age thing. From my ancientness, it wasn't a song we messed with when I was a child.
Apr. 19th, 2013 06:44 am (UTC)
I knew the original as a child, but since having Daf, I've learnt all the animal variants! Kids do love the scream bit. *grin*
Apr. 19th, 2013 08:12 am (UTC)
We mess with the song, taking it in turns to vary the verse. The only obligation is that it scan and rhyme with stream, so both the crocodile and the teacher have been sung, along with local variants such as:

"Don't forget the biscuits, we like the custard cream"

Also, because we are us, we vary the "Merrily": "Meriol, Meriol, Meriol, Meriol, life is but a dream"
Apr. 19th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
There's also "Putt, putt, putt, putt/We're out of gasoline."


"Ha! Ha! Fooled you./I'm a submarine."
Apr. 20th, 2013 10:43 am (UTC)
I slightly dread row row row the boat because after hearing the lion, bear etc versions, Owen will now name an animal and expect me to make up a verse for that animal on the spot!

He also very much likes the 'gently past the fishes, merrily merrily merrily now it's time for kisses' and 'gently past the tugs, merrily merrily merrily now it's time for hugs' variants.
Apr. 20th, 2013 12:06 pm (UTC)
I only know the life is but a dream version, but the crocodile one is so awesome that I'm now keeping it.
Apr. 21st, 2013 03:25 am (UTC)
Got nothing, but when my dad taught Counter Culture (or something) at York (Ont) in the early 70s ... he had students explicate ticky box one as an exam question. Dammit I really hope you see this comment--I'm making an exception as far as LJ commenting for you Ms. Owlfish ;) ;)
Apr. 21st, 2013 02:43 pm (UTC)
Yay, you commented just for me! (And a very moderate comment it was too.)

That's a challenging exam question!
May. 1st, 2013 03:08 am (UTC)
I like highlyeccentric only remembered the "merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,/ life is but a dream" verse. However, this discussion jogged my memory and I vaguely recall the "throw your teacher overboard/ and listen to her scream"
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )