David McWilliams: Our cupboard is bare, so we must sell family silver
'Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none'
Like all nursery rhymes, the origins of 'Old Mother Hubbard' are more complicated that they seem at first. When I was young, the rhyme was repeated to reinforce the value of savings.
The moral of the story was that if you don't put away something in the cupboard when times are good, you'll have nothing to fall back on in bad times.
For years, it was thought that the "bone" in the rhyme referred to money, the Old Mother Hubbard was shorthand for all of us who forget to save in times of plenty, and the dog referred to anyone close-by who needed something to tide them over.