Origin Stories


Step on a crack

Break your mother's back.

Step on a line 

Breaik the Devil's spine.



Memory tells me, a memory with no detail, that I learned this bit of doggerel from my mother. It is the sort of thing one learns from other children and I'm sure I passed it on, as a child, to many others. There are many variants of this rhyme, including breaking daddy's spine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gia6xOBRjQE).Some of then suggest a sickening racist twist. Some versions of the story have this as simply a childrens game of fairly recent origin. Other versions have it going back much further in time and suggest it speaks about the dangers inherent in the world.


I was out walking just now and as I naturally avoided stepping on the obvious cracks in the pavement I once again thought it curious how deeply engrained 

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© Richard Valasek