Slamming Doors Can Lead to a Messy End

When I was a child, my family owned an LP of Stanley Holloway (I think) reading Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales For Children. It would send a delicious shiver through me every time I listened to it, as it didn’t feel like the normal watered-down namby-pambiness that is designed for children’s consumption. It felt as though I shouldn’t be listening to it – too much bluntness about death and naughtiness. It was obvious, even to a child, though, that they were designed by an adult to keep kids under control 🙂

I had a couple of ‘tales’ that were particular favourites, and this was one of them:

(Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably)
A trick that everyone abhors
In little girls is slamming doors.
A wealthy banker’s little daughter
Who lived in Palace Green, Bayswater
(By name Rebecca Offendort),
Was given to this furious sport.

She would deliberately go
And slam the door like billy-o!
To make her uncle Jacob start.
She was not really bad at heart,
But only rather rude and wild;
She was an aggravating child…

It happened that a marble bust
Of Abraham was standing just
Above the door this little lamb
Had carefully prepared to slam,
And down it came! It knocked her flat!
It laid her out! She looked like that.

Her funeral sermon (which was long
And followed by a sacred song)
Mentioned her virtues, it is true,
But dwelt upon her vices too,
And showed the deadful end of one
Who goes and slams the door for fun.

The children who were brought to hear
The awful tale from far and near
Were much impressed, and inly swore
They never more would slam the door,
— As often they had done before.

Hilaire Belloc


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