Not all nursery rhymes are nice nursery rhymes
September 17, 2018 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Boing Boing: “Spiders blamed after broken siren played creepy nursery rhymes randomly at night to UK townsfolk. The Ipswich Star reports on what one local described as 'something from a horror movie.'” BBC: “For several months she would hear the rhyme, which would go away only to come again another day.” Ipswich Star: “It was waking me up in the night, it was absolutely terrifying. I heard it at all times of the night - 1am, 2am, 4am - it was sporadic, sometimes it would play once, other times it was over and over.”
posted by Wordshore (69 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
(I sent this to a friend in Iowa earlier and she replied with this picture)
posted by Wordshore at 8:28 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Spider-triggered nursery rhyme sirens sounds like something from Scarfolk.

Bit of an odd deterrent for thieves though. Are they aiming for 'too creeped out to continue with the robbery' as an end goal?
posted by Happy Dave at 8:31 AM on September 17, 2018 [24 favorites]


The itsy, bisty spider
Climbed up the security cam
Out came the song
That creeped the residents out
posted by nubs at 8:31 AM on September 17, 2018 [20 favorites]


"...and now, the weather."
posted by gwint at 8:37 AM on September 17, 2018 [35 favorites]


She rang local council officers, who tracked the noise to the nearby Farthing Road Industrial Estate, as first reported by the Ipswich Star.

It has since been turned down.


I read that as “It has since been burned down,” which made at least as much sense.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:44 AM on September 17, 2018 [35 favorites]


Metafilter member: "Spiders are lovely and harmless, just wonderful creatures who deserve our love and respect"

/spiders wage psychological warfare on small town

"Aww, spiders are so great"
posted by Ghidorah at 8:45 AM on September 17, 2018 [30 favorites]


This article seems like bullshit because I saw a spider in my bathroom yesterday and it didn’t play any creepy music.
posted by greermahoney at 9:00 AM on September 17, 2018 [15 favorites]


i was like "haha if this happened near me i would leave creepy dolls everywhere to horrify the neighborhood" and then had a brief and terrible mental image of this scenario and now i am creeped the fuck out. i played myself.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:00 AM on September 17, 2018 [62 favorites]


creepy nursery rhymes

This is a pretty broad statement, and the creepiness depends on 1) the reading of the poem, and 2) the words of the poem. For example, Goosey Goosey Gander, which may be either a religious poem, or a sexual one, and involves throwing people down stairs, possibly breaking an old man's back.

And somehow this is something that is to this day included in books of nursery rhymes for little kids.

They're public content, people, feel free to modify them to be more kid-appropriate! /parent rant
posted by filthy light thief at 9:04 AM on September 17, 2018


UK gonna UK.
posted by acb at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I saw that headline and all I could think was, "That's not helping those people feel any better."
posted by wenestvedt at 9:27 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


For several months she would hear the rhyme, which would go away only to come again another day.

I see what you did there, BBC.
posted by zamboni at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2018 [29 favorites]


creepy nursery rhymes

This is a pretty broad statement, and the creepiness depends on 1) the reading of the poem, and 2) the words of the poem.


Did you listen to the recording (top video, first link)? Pretty sure it checks both your boxes.
posted by solotoro at 9:31 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


like where would i even GET creepy dolls, i would have to deliberately seek them out and then next thing you know i'm possessed and everything's on fire
posted by poffin boffin at 9:41 AM on September 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


Poffin Boffin

In my experience any doll bought in a charity shop can be made creepy by the removal of

A: Clothes
B: Hair
C: Eyes
D: Head
E: All of the above

You are welcome.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:43 AM on September 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


A Skegness shop had these in its window when I was last there...
posted by pipeski at 9:46 AM on September 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


EXTREMELY cursèd image
posted by poffin boffin at 9:48 AM on September 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


I'd be surprised if poffin boffin didn't already have a stash of dolls with parts removed.

Not that that's a bad thing.
posted by blurker at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


like where would i even GET creepy dolls, i would have to deliberately seek them out and then next thing you know i'm possessed and everything's on fire

Robocop_is_Bleeding set up a "haunted doll experience" kit that people can check out of his public library. We poked around a lot of extremely creepy antiques barns in rural New Hampshire until he found the perfect creepy doll. We looked at A LOT of creepy dolls to find the perfect one. I'm pretty sure our family is now haunted by all the dolls we deemed "not creepy enough."

Also, re: the post- this is basically a nightmare for me on so many levels, I can't even deal with the thought.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2018 [14 favorites]


like where would i even GET creepy dolls,

Ebay's got you covered: haunted dolls.

Anyway, if I had experienced this, I would have assumed a haunted ice cream truck was roaming the neighborhood and gone mad attempting to find it.
posted by yasaman at 10:03 AM on September 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


As an audio recordist, nothing bugs me more than when people get woefully incomplete recordings of things that have been allegedly going on for months / hours / apparently the better part of a year?? Anyway, if you're running a haunted house this year, I did the best I could.
posted by mykescipark at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


Well. This answers the "Where were the spiders?" question.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:24 AM on September 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


i mostly enjoy the company of spiders but they seem to have a track record of stuff like this

back in dial-up days when i was a kid, i'd sneak onto the computer when everyone else was asleep and stay up super-late and, like, troll around on usenet reading conspiracy theories or whatever. to avoid getting yelled at to Go To Bed, i'd leave the lights off and turn the monitor contrast way down, sitting in the dark, squinting at my screen. one night, when the house was still and the world asleep, a short sharp scream shattered the silence. i jumped, but it stopped before i could even process the sound. heart thumping, i looked about in panic, but saw nothing, and went back to what i was doing.

ten minutes later, another short sharp blast -- a little longer, enough for me to tell it was electronic and not animal in nature, but not to find the source. heart still pounding -- half worried that a parent would wake up and yell at me for being awake, half worried about the whatever-it-was, i skulked around the hallway and through the house, finding nothing.

for the next hour, the pattern continued: silent intervals, shattered at random by brief, creepy, untraceable noise-bursts, definitely coming from inside the house but not from any identifiable source. but no one else in the house seemed to be hearing it, since somehow it wasn't enough to wake anyone up. was it a prank? was i hallucinating? WAS IT ALIENS

it turned out a spider had decided to make a home in the hallway smoke detector, and its crawling about in the wiring was somehow causing a short. THANKS, SPIDER.
posted by halation at 10:27 AM on September 17, 2018 [25 favorites]


Yeah, I try to be Adult and Reasonable about spiders, but frankly they are unwelcome in my house. They don't pay rent, they don't respect my personal space or boundaries, and they like to run across the floor unexpectedly or turn up in my bed or live in my wellies and it is just not acceptable.

My mother asked me the other day why I was so afraid of spiders, as she had not raised me to be afraid of them. No, mum, the spiders taught me.

In other news, I own a creepy doll and I used to hide it places where it would make eye contact with my husband, ideally when he looked in a mirror. I had to stop after he told me that he found this genuinely upsetting rather than hilarious.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:33 AM on September 17, 2018 [19 favorites]


Duly forwarded to my wife who hates spiders but loves creepy stories and just arrived in England for a two-month stay.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


I laughed gleefully aloud at this. I want to hire whoever came up with the idea.

Does anyone know if this is a normal practice?
posted by slipthought at 10:59 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


In my experience any doll bought in a charity shop can be made creepy by the removal of

A: Clothes
B: Hair
C: Eyes
D: Head
E: All of the above


Yeah, I sew for Barbie, and every time I open my drawer of model dolls it reminds me of nothing so much as a mass grave.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:12 AM on September 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


Does anyone know if this is a normal practice?

Using spiders to trigger motion detectors? I don’t think so.
posted by nubs at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


So I listened to the recording after I had read all the articles and knew what was causing it but it STILL creeped me out. And why on earth did the industrial park choose a nursery rhyme recited by a demon child as its alarm sound?? I suppose it would be very effective at driving out people who hate horror movies.

I am currently reading Anthony Horowitz' Magpie Murders, and just last night read the following line: "There's a well marked one-way system that takes you around the edge of Ipswich, which suits me because it's one town I've never much enjoyed entering." How apropos! I'm inclined to give it a wide berth now, myself.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Next thing you know I'm possessed and everything's on fire.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


it turned out a spider had decided to make a home in the hallway smoke detector, and its crawling about in the wiring was somehow causing a short. THANKS, SPIDER.

This exact thing scared the shit out of my partner and I last night. Fortunately, the first thing I did was to check the smoke detector batteries, which is when I noticed the webs around the outside of the detector.

I still spent at least an hour running around making sure there wasn't a small fire or a gas leak or something. I was aided in this by the fact that my upstairs neighbours have the pilot light on their basement furnace running, so I could hear a hissing sound of escaping gas but wasn't able to immediately place it. (The furnace for my unit is electrically-ignited, so I didn't think about a pilot light right away.)
posted by tobascodagama at 11:29 AM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I love that their theft deterrent was meant to be a nursery rhyme. I suppose any sound does the job, but curious that they thought to use "it's raining, it's pouring" over literally anything else.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:57 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I find it interesting that so far everyone's taken the story at face value. I think it's perhaps highly likely that someone was fucking with their neighbors intentionally, and blamed "the spiders" when finally caught out.
posted by explosion at 12:18 PM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]




I'm having a really hard time empathizing with someone who heard this and didn't put on a coat and go out to investigate. Sign me up for this sort of thing!
posted by eotvos at 12:32 PM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


i want to believe it's the spiders
i also want to believe the same spiders are behind this whole situation
posted by halation at 1:00 PM on September 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm having a really hard time empathizing with someone who heard this and didn't put on a coat and go out to investigate.

Okay but like you have seen a horror movie, right? This plan of action is not recommended!!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:12 PM on September 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


Okay but like you have seen a horror movie, right? This plan of action is not recommended!!

I am sure nothing bad would ever happen to someone in a horror movie who is in a deserted industrial estate that is swarming with spiders at three o'clock in the morning. Sounds perfectly fine and safe to mAARGH GET IT OFF M
posted by Wordshore at 1:15 PM on September 17, 2018 [13 favorites]


Let’s split up and explore separately!
posted by Segundus at 1:18 PM on September 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


I am sure nothing bad would ever happen to someone in a horror movie who is in a deserted industrial estate that is swarming with spiders at three o'clock in the morning.

Sounds like a great episode of Scooby-Doo!

"It's old man Caruthers! He was pretending the industrial estate was haunted so he could tear it down and build an amusement park!"
posted by nubs at 1:28 PM on September 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


Robocop_is_Bleeding, banjo_and_the_pork : is that exhibit still available?
We'd love to see it, and are based in Vt.
posted by doctornemo at 1:41 PM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


"and the spooky singing?"

"Spiders activating a motion sensor!"

"The ghostly beast with 1,000 eyes?"

"A projection - using this bed sheet, this flashlight, and three Q-tips!"
posted by nubs at 1:42 PM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Around 1988 I lived in a house in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A bunch of us lived there, but didn't get along, so we largely stuck to our rooms. My room was on the upper corner, with windows overlooking some empty spaces: a big parking lot, two streets, some laws.

Across that space stood a very tall pole with a siren up top. Every so often it would burst into a godawful HOWL, a metallic shrieking that seemed to rend the fabric of space. In my room I felt suspended in a void of brutal sound, cut off from all of the world until eventually, without explanation, it ceased and let fall a massive, blessed stillness.

I never saw anyone else react to the siren. No one walking looked up or took shelter. No cars pulled over. Nothing. It felt weirdly private.
posted by doctornemo at 1:52 PM on September 17, 2018 [13 favorites]


I have spent an unnatural amount of time looking at “haunted dolls” on eBay, and my interest is piqued.
posted by gucci mane at 2:02 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sounds perfectly fine and safe to mAARGH GET IT OFF M

Great, now Wordshore is the hollowed-out puppet of a freaky colony of spiders. Instead of hearing about the lovely lovely cakes at the local church event, we are just going to get endless posts about how juicy the flies are in the belfry.

Why didn’t you think of us, Wordshore!? Why?!?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:31 PM on September 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


During my youth, I once went on a badly budgeted climbing holiday south of Paris. We had almost completely run out of money and needed to stay in the town of Fontainebleau before catching a series of trains the next morning, but all of the accommodation options were full, as there was an internationally famous horse race happening at the time.

So, after some thought, we decided to stay on the train platform. We knew that we could get into the station, and we knew that the station closed down at 11pm or so (as we’d arrived at about that time on the last train, and a few moments after we disembarked, all of the screens and lights turned off). Plus we had camping gear, so we could set up our sleeping bags amongst the chewing gum and cigarette butts, and cook up some instant noodles on our stove.

This proved to be a bad plan for two important reasons: 1) although the last passenger train went through the station before midnight, 100-carriage-long freight trains came through the station at high speed every 20 minutes or so, a few feet away from our “campsite”; 2) the multi-storey carpark opposite the station had the world’s creepiest music playing all night, presumably to deter vandals and car thieves - at least that’s what we told ourselves.

It was a sort of medley of haunted nursery rhymes, recorded by a band of lost Victorian urchins on fiddle, accordian and piano. Absolutely the spookiest thing I have ever heard. It faded in and out of hearing from across the tracks, only really becoming audible during the occasional musical climax or when the clouds cleared from in front of the moon.

Obviously none of us slept at all that night and if any of the trains had slowed down, I’m pretty sure that’d we’d have tried to jump onto one to get away from the demonic car park.

It’s reassuring to read that businesses do in fact use spooky music to scare away teenagers, and that all those years ago we were not in fact, trying to bivouac by the Carpark of the Damned.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 3:00 PM on September 17, 2018 [30 favorites]


Perhaps if your classical-music-based hooligan repellent started attracting droogs, you'd switch to eldritch nursery rhymes.
posted by acb at 3:03 PM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


eldritch nursery rhymes

Do you know the shoggoth man
the shoggoth man
the shoggoth man
Do you know the shoggoth man
Who lives on R'lyeh lane?
posted by nubs at 3:06 PM on September 17, 2018 [14 favorites]


I feel like Ipswitch has got the be the most common source of News of the Weird just because the people who write up that sort of thing know that any weird story sounds better coming from "Ipswitch."
posted by Navelgazer at 3:42 PM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I read the stories before I listened and thought "it can't be that bad."

But holy fuck, that was way more creepy than I expected.

I mean, I guess that's a good deterrent for burglars or something because it's just so ... weird.

The spider aspect just makes this perfect.
posted by darksong at 3:52 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I feel like Ipswitch has got the be the most common source of News of the Weird just because the people who write up that sort of thing know that any weird story sounds better coming from "Ipswitch."

Ipswich is the Romania of Great Britain.
posted by acb at 3:57 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


But holy fuck, that was way more creepy than I expected.

Found an extended version on YouTube, and it's perfect for the forthcoming Halloween. The lyrics become ... interesting.
posted by Wordshore at 4:09 PM on September 17, 2018


They played that at my wedding.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:34 PM on September 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


In my experience any doll bought in a charity shop can be made creepy by the removal of

A: Clothes
B: Hair
C: Eyes
D: Head
E: All of the above


Plus adding nipple rings/barbells for German-style creepy.
posted by waving at 5:10 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Great, now Wordshore is the hollowed-out puppet of a freaky colony of spiders. Instead of hearing about the lovely lovely cakes at the local church event, we are just going to get endless posts about how juicy the flies are in the belfry.

What do you mean, now? Have you ever seen him eat any of those cakes? I'm pretty sure they're just bait for flies and small children. It's just not natural to be that affable and adroit.

I'm having a really hard time empathizing with someone who heard this and didn't put on a coat and go out to investigate.

Okay but like you have seen a horror movie, right? This plan of action is not recommended!!


In non-horror movie real life rules I have discovered a number of small raves or sound art projects and other interesting things by investigating weird noises not unlike this. If I heard weird, booming nursery rhymes or other creepy nonsense being broadcast on a PA I would definitely be investigating, because if anything I would need to at least make sure it wasn't the local tsunami warning sirens and PA. and the sound of that huge city wide public address firing up once a month is a really eerie sound as it is.

Granted, more often than not I've been the source of weird noises like this. I accidentally freaked out a group of Evergreen sound design students because I was re-tracking an experimental music piece deep in some really creepy concrete bunkers while they were doing a field recording exercise.

I remember seeing their flashlights beams and hearing words like "Wait, what the hell is that noise?" just before they came around the corner, microphones on boom poles first and then terrified faces wearing studio headphones - where they found me looking very shadowy and way back in a narrow concrete crevice with a small, black portable speaker was held to my face and my field recorder behind me on a tripod, using the part of the bunker as a very narrow and tall reverb tank.

So what they saw was me clad all in back, pale white face and probably wild black hair with my face lit up blue and glowing from the power light on my speaker, and then backlit with a dim glow of red and greenish LED light from my field recorder much farther behind, while my face and mouth area was making weird insect noises as I was manipulating the sounds coming from the small speaker with mouth embouchure, not unlike playing a didgeridoo.

They really didn't start screaming and running until I said hello. Alas.
posted by loquacious at 7:06 PM on September 17, 2018 [29 favorites]


As for the creepy Mr. Softee LinkNYC kiosks, my money's on huertanix, because reasons
posted by gusandrews at 7:44 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Huh, now I'm wondering what was the first horror movie to make use of children's nursery rhymes to build unease. I mean there's nothing intrinsically frightening about a child reading a nursery rhyme, okay, sure, at 2am from some location and purpose unknown maybe, but aside from that it would seem fairly harmless, but horror films have used it as a trope for a while, counting, I guess, on the tension between innocent voice and potentially not-so-innocent words taken at face value.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:03 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


In 1966, Dark Shadows used a wistful, minor-key version of "London Bridge Is Falling Down" to signify the appearance of the ghost of Sarah Collins, who died on her tenth birthday in 1795. Long before "London Bridge" was written.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:57 AM on September 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


Nice! I think I vaguely remember that now from watching the show as a kid. I wonder if there was a radio program that might have gone that route even earlier. It seems a potentially good match and there used to be some nifty horror shows broadcast on radio.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:02 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


If it's creepy dolls you're after, you can't beat Frozen Charlotte.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:15 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Robocop_is_Bleeding set up a "haunted doll experience" kit that people can check out of his public library.

Here's Lil Godfrey - won't you talk to him?

Robocop_is_Bleeding, banjo_and_the_pork : is that exhibit still available?

He'll be going up as my Halloween display starting in October.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:57 AM on September 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


There are some possibly borderline examples earlier than Dark Shadows under CreepyChildrenSinging, IronicNurseryTune, and OminousMusicBoxTune, like in The Birds, The Haunting, and M.
posted by mubba at 7:10 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Check surroundings for safety.
posted by workerant at 7:25 AM on September 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Godfrey looks great, robocop is bleeding .
posted by doctornemo at 2:49 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Godfrey is, indeed, attractive as all Hell. He doesn't creep me out, personally, but I'm probably a bad measure of creepiness. I've always found cenobites a bit twee, and Cthulhu just makes me hungry for calamari. Your basic, broken, dead-eyed China doll wouldn't be enough, either.

I think a creepy doll would be like, a broken, dead-eyed China doll that looked exactly like the person you want to creep out, except like, it has no mouth, it has centipedes for limbs, and its torso inverts itself in multiple dimensions like a Klein's Bottle, so that its organs erupt from its belly and then twist back up inside itself in an n-dimensional prolapse. Plus, it moves an almost imperceptible fraction of an inch whenever you look away. I feel like that doll might be a little creepy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Or a bobble head made out of people would probably work, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:47 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Spiders and other insects are said to be responsible for 30 per cent of false burglar alarms.

30% of all spiders are interrupted before they finish legging it with your valuables.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:50 PM on September 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


Or a bobble head made out of people would probably work, too.

Help I need an adult.
posted by loquacious at 9:13 PM on September 18, 2018 [4 favorites]




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