Generations of tinies have grown up learning the nursery rhyme with the Roud Folk Song Index number 21143, to wit:
Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.
In a recent earth-shattering research paper, published in The Weekly Earth-Shattering Research Papers Digest, boffins at the Centre For Banbury Cross Studies make a convincing argument that the third line of the rhyme is wrong. Using state of the art techniques involving a big magnetic robot, they claim that it ought to read
Wrinkles on her fingers and boils on her toes.
The lady may indeed be fine, but she is also a crone, or a hag. It is thought that she is related by sisterhood to both the Woohoohoodiwoo Woman and the Woman of Twigs, and Shakespeare probably had the trio in mind when he was writing The Tragedie Of Macbeth.
In a related development, other boffins at a different Centre, for other Studies, have been using state of the art techniques involving a tiny rubber nozzle to identify the music that the lady with wrinkles on her fingers and boils on her toes was listening to wherever she went. Their unarguable case is that the music was some particularly argumentative German improv racket, made with dustbin lids and hammers and hideous electronic buzzing noises.
Together, these two studies shed an entirely new light on the nursery rhyme. It is a light that the present day inhabitants of Banbury Cross find unwelcome, and there have been mutterings in the streets, and dark deeds plotted in the taverns, and pebbles thrown at boffins. Excitingly, the latter hoo-hah has given rise to the creation of a brand new nursery rhyme:
Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross
To see all the citizens get very cross
Let’s all throw pebbles at the boffins
Until they end up in their coffins.