I See London, I See France

Everyone seems to know this one:

I see London, I see France
I see _____'s underpants!


This is well known enough that if someone's undies are showing, you can pretty generally just say "I see London" and they'll be alerted.

One variation I heard exactly once as a kid, but has been recorded by plenty of folklorists, was to add on:

May be purple, may be pink
I don't know, but they sure stink!


Funny as I thought that was, it always struck me as a line that made no sense (even by playground rhyme standards, which are awfully loose where sense is concerned). If you can SEE the underpants, how would you not know whether they're purple or pink?

A fairly common variation is

Teacher teacher, I declare
I see _______'s underwear


A variaton of THAT is to I see _________'s bottom bare. This is somewhat rare (as are bare bottom sightings compared to underwear sightings, I suppose).

Not sure as to the origin of these yet - guessing it'll turn out to be several decades old, though.

See also: "may be black, may be blue / oh my gosh they're full of poo" which is part of a We Will Rock You parody variation.

11 comments:

  1. I see London, I see France
    I see _____'s underpants!

    South Africa (late 1960s and 1970s)

    I see London, I see France
    I see _____'s underpants!

    Michigan, USA (1970s)

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  2. Know those first 2 lines from Long Island in the mid 1970's

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  3. Teacher, teacher, it's not fair
    I can't see your underwear
    Is it blue, or is it green?
    Is it nitroglycerine?

    ...yeah, I've got no idea either. London, early 1980s.

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  4. I see London, I see France
    I see xxxx's underpants
    Not too big, not too small
    But you coud hang them on a wall

    Buffalo, NY 1959 or 1960

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    Replies
    1. I was born in Amherst NY near Buffalo, my parents and aunt/uncles said the first two lines, it was something from their childhood in the 1930-40's. I suspect they censored themselves, and stopped before they second half.

      Delete
    2. I grew up in Western NY. We also said the last two lines but sometimes would say, "not too big, not too small just the size of the Berlin Wall."

      Jamestown,NY 1980's

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  5. I grew up in Maryland the DC suburbs in the late sixty's And we ended it with "is it black is it white oh my gosh it's dynamite"

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  6. I see London, I see France
    I see _____'s underpants!
    There not Purple,there not pink
    But boy oh boy they sure do stink.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I see London, I see France,
    I see _______'s underpants
    Not too big, not too small
    Just the size of Montreal

    Manitoba, Canada, late 60's

    ReplyDelete
  8. i see London, i see France, i see _______'s underpants. long or short, wide or small,they could fit, city hall!

    ReplyDelete

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    ReplyDelete

PLEASE tell us where and when you heard your version (ie, "Chicago, early 1950s). And please be aware that the information may end up in a book sooner or later.