Why Did The Policeman Cross the Road?

By Stevyn Colgan

Not so much police intelligence as intelligent policing

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sung to the tune of 'Aaaaaarrrggh!'

Here's a story you might like from my coppering days ...

Back in the early 1980’s, a sergeant from Lambeth borough came up with an idea that he hoped would help tackle the problem of kids being knocked down by traffic. He decided that he’d teach them road safety through the medium of song. The result was a slim printed volume called Road Safety Songs intended for use by police schools officers all over London. I've clung on to a copy all these years and I'd like to share some of the highlights with you.

The officer’s primary method seems to have been shock; during the course of just 18 pages, he manages to mow down over a dozen kids, mostly using lorries. Take this cautionary tale from an unnamed song listed simply as ‘Sung to the tune of Clementine’:

But she dashed right on the roadway
Never heeding brothers nine
And a lorry came and hit her
Foolish foolish Clementine.

Or the royal tragedy laid out in the gripping 'Sung to the tune of The Grand Old Duke of York':

And a lorry came along
And knocked him off his feet,
And now all that's left of the poor old Duke
Is his statue in the street.

Or the tear-jerking ballad of John the Brixton schoolboy in Ode to John - the only song with a title (but with no hints as to a tune):

But then one day it happened
As John was out to play.
A lorry come and hit our John
Now he's not feeling gay.

And so it goes on. My favourite is 'Sung to the tune of Daisy, Daisy' and it goes like this:

David, David, mind how you cross the road
You're half crazy if you don't use the Code
You may be a boy of courage
But if you don't avoid that carriage
Then you'll be sweeped (sic) right off your feet
And you'll end up in hospital.

Did it work? I don’t know. But at least he had a go. The songs may have had no impact at all. But they might also have frightened enough crap out of those kids to have saved some young lives. I salute him for that. So, children, remember to use your Green Cross Code and...

Little girls and boys,
Happy in your play,
We don't want an ambulance
To carry you away.

Goodness me, no.

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Craig Lewis
 Craig Lewis says:

I can't help thinking that Dave Prowse would have been a far more effective deterrent to risky road-crossers as Darth Vader than the Green Cross Code man.

'I find your lack of observation disturbing'

posted 1st June 2015

Mike McHugh
 Mike McHugh says:

I read Ode To John to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon. Seems to work for that bit :)

posted 4th June 2015

Pat Harkin
 Pat Harkin says:

Didn't Stevie Wonder have an album "Songs In The Key Of Ow..."

posted 4th June 2015

Christopher Richardson
 Christopher Richardson says:

The rhyme without a tune could be one of many. It's in Ballad Metre, a variant of Common Measure.

Try "The House of the Rising Sun", "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem", "Amazing Grace", "Greensleeves", "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

posted 4th June 2015

Sioned-Mair Richards
 Sioned-Mair Richards says:

Sitting reading these at work & trying not to snigger. I think it is Puff the Magic Dragon for Ode to John, but am wary of the Gay Aversion therapy it seems to propound :-)

posted 5th June 2015

Chris Phillips
 Chris Phillips says:

The Green Cross code was way better. I am 42 and still remember it well.


posted 8th June 2015

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