Lost in the wood

Imagining the girl next door seeking salvation from a constable, Bloom plays wittily on the name of her employer, Mr. Woods: "O please, Mr Policeman, I'm lost in the wood." His conceit alludes to two staples of popular culture. The traditional children's story Babes in the Wood is one that he might have encountered either in pantomimes or in Mother Goose nursery rhymes. He combines its picture of frightened children lost in the forest with a music-hall song, Oh Please, Mr. P'liceman, about country girls lost in the big city.

John Hunt 2017

1879 illustration of Babes in the Wood by Randolph Caldecott. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Cover for sheet music of The Boys that Mind the Shop sung by Vesta Tilley, held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Source: www.vam.ac.uk.