By: jbhthescots@mac.com, Categories: Words & Images, 1 comment



Back in those wonderful care-free days a kid, I was into “WWW” long, long, long before the Internet was probably even imagined as a concept by Al Gore.  You see, for mini-me, WWW stood not for World Wide Web but “Wee Willie Winkie”, my favourite bedtime nursery rhyme. And while Glasgow’s Necropolis has some incredibly impressive gravestones built for the great and the good – there’s also a memorial to William Millar, author of Wee Willie Winkie, published in his 1842 collected edition of works under the title of Whistle-binkie: Stories for the Fireside. His rhyme soon became a great favourite among the children of Glasgow.


Miller’s memorial is near the start of the twisting Necropolis path to the summit; and he’s the first famous person there you’ll meet en route to John Knox at the top. The Glasgow-born poet died destitute in 1872, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Tollcross churchyard. Funds had been raised by public subscription originally to help nurse the poet back to health – but they came too late and he perished a pauper. Those funds were instead used to start a wider public subscription to erect a memorial to him in the Necropolis, with the stone inscribed ‘The Laureate of the Nursery’. And in homage to Miller, Rudyard Kipling used his poem’s title for his 1899 story Wee Willie Winkie.


Is it perhaps heresy to suggest that Wee Willie Winkie might not be a nursery jingle after all but rather a dig at the “promulgators” who prowled the Saturday streets of eighteenth-century Glasgow – perhaps looking up to John Knox for acknowledgment of their deeds – as they imposed their ten o’clock Calvinist curfews?


Wee Willie Winkie
Rins through the toon;
Upstairs an’ doonstairs
In his nicht goon;
Chappin’ at the windae
Tirlin’ at the lock:
Are a’ the bairnies in their beds?
It’s past ten o’clock


A stark description of how the bigots operated and Wee Willie Winkie – yet another of my childhood myths burst – is nothing but an inspired name for a pious, canting hypocrite. And one certain way of defusing uncomfortable satire is to sidetrack it into Children’s Corner. Much like Gulliver’s Travel’s.


Leica M3 & 50mm Summilux V2
Kodak Tri-X (200)
Sekonic L-308S
HC-110 (Dil.B – 1:31 – 7 min)
Plustek 7600i & Vuescan



1 Comment

  • Hmmmm, Now i need to watch the 1937 'Wee Willie Winkie' starring Shirley Temple directed by John Ford