Lily The Pink

People say that your adult life is shaped by your childhood experiences.

Now I have my own young children I begin to recall all sorts of nursery rhymes, songs and tunes I haven’t heard for ages. What effect did they have on me I wonder?

I’m not sure that my mum singing “The Purple People-Eater” greatly influenced my future development, but just recently I’ve been getting a song stuck in my head called “Lily The Pink”.

So with a bit of hunting in Wikipedia I find that “Lily The Pink” is an English drinking song based on “Lydia Estes Pinkham (February 9, 1819 – May 17, 1883) who was an iconic concocter and shrewd marketer of a commercially successful herbal-alcoholic “women’s tonic” meant to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains.”

The traditional “Lily The Pink” has verses like these two…

Peter Whelan
He was sad
Because he only had one nut
Till he took some of Lydia’s compound
Now they grow in clusters ’round his butt.

And Uncle Paul
He was terribly small.
He was the shortest man in town.
So on his body he rubbed medicinal compound,
And now he’s six foot, underground.

I have a sanitized version stuck in my head, and this was a hit in the UK just before I was born.

Maybe this was the start of my upbringing to becoming a medical sceptic?

All I can say is that anytime someone tells me they have found a medicine or natural cure that seems to work on anything and everything, then this song pops into my head (the full original lyrics are below the video)

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Mr. Frears
had sticky-out ears
and it made him awful shy
and so they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s learning how to fly.

Brother Tony
Was notably bony
He would never eat his meals
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now they move him round on wheels.

Old Ebeneezer
Thought he was Julius Caesar
And so they put him in a Home
where they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s Emperor of Rome.

Johnny Hammer
Had a t-t-terrible s-s-stammer.
He could b-barely speak a word.
So they gave him medicinal compound,
And now he’s seen, but never heard.

Auntie Millie
Ran willy-nilly
When her legs, they did recede
And so they rubbed on medicinal compound
And now they call her Millipede.

Jennifer Eccles
had terrible freckles
and the boys all called her names
but she changed with medicinal compound
and now he joins in all their games.

Lily the Pink, she
Turned to drink, she
Filled up with paraffin inside
and despite her medicinal compound
Sadly Picca-Lily died.

Up to Heaven
Her soul ascended
All the church bells they did ring
She took with her medicinal compound
Hark the herald angels sing.

Oooooooooooooooo Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

The original and complete vinyl recording is here;

-Dr Martin Russell

2 thoughts on “Lily The Pink”

  1. Oh, how I remember this song too. Would you believe my Mum would sing the chorus to me as a little girl? (I must be slightly older, but not much!!) Amazingly those words were still filed away in the archives of my memory. Thanks for cheering me up – I’d never seen the group perform though, and don’t think the lead singer would dream of donning such a hairstyle now!!! J.

  2. Yes, it is true that childhood influences our adult life. After all, we are the sum of all of our past experiences!

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