Pop Goes The Weasel

You are probably already scratching your collective heads out there in blog-post-reading-land. You are looking at this strange title and probably thinking,and correctly so, shouldn’t this post have something to do with Father’s Day? To that I give you the definitive, ‘well, yes and no’. Yes, it is June 14, the post before Father’s Day, so of course I want to tip my hat to all the awesome fathers out there…and I will. Hang on. But, no, it is not only about Father’s Day. It is also the Queen’s Birthday. I feel it merely polite to give HRH a birthday shout-out by tying some British into the post. I cannot forget “Gin Day”–the official day we celebrate everybody’s favorite juniper-based spirit, right? And finally, my publicist likes me to tie every blog piece back to the type of novels I pen. I write historical fiction. Overall, I think you might agree it makes for a tall and pretty-strange order. But I am crafty, so I will do just that:

Pop goes the weasel

“Half a pound of tuppeny rice,

Half a pound of treacle.

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop! goes the weasel.”

Uh-oh, this probably does not sound to your ears like the same song we Americans learned as children. I mean what, on earth, is ‘treacle’? I had to look it up, myself; it’s molasses-like syrup used for cooking and sweetening. No, sorry, the ‘Pop’ doesn’t have anything to do with Father’s Day. In the Victorian Era, to ‘pop’ something meant to pawn it. Lastly, weasels were not the critter variety common to the USA—that would just be weird. A weasel was a “Sunday’s best” suit coat, which even the poorest of folks owned, off-and-on…

“Up and down the City road,

In and out the Eagle.

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop! goes the weasel.”

The most unfortunate of London men could barely feed their families with rice and sugar staples. This left little if any money to drown their sorrows in grog—or in today’s celebratory case, a G&T. A detour to ‘pop’ their coats at the local pawn shoppe was required of most men on their way to the Eagle Tavern. By Sunday, those men would need to find the money to buy back their suit coats in time for church services.

I think “Pop goes the weasel” sounds absurdly tame compared to “Pawn the suit coat so daddy can drink” —even like child’s play. I know that for a great many children, it simply isn’t so. This Father’s Day, I pray our fathers can pass by their personal taverns, choosing instead to enjoy spending time with their children, grandchildren and all the rest.

Happy Father’s Day!

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