Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Old Country Sayings.

I bought a lovely old book recently called "Country Sayings" by a chap called Fred Archer who grew up in Worcestershire around the time of the First World War. I have read several of his country books in the past, and he wrote of a wonderful time to grow up in the country.

There were some sayings in his book which were already familiar to me, whilst others I have never come across, and perhaps are local to his area. The saying "A woman, a dog, and a Walnut tree, The more you beat them the better they be" doesn't seem to have much of a ring of truth about it. What might do the tree good, is certainly no good to the dog and would turn it into a timerous cowering animal and I'd like to hear what the wife had to say on the matter too!

This one did ring truer though: "Two women in one house, two cats and one mouse, two dogs and one bone, will never agree for long." Never a truer word was spoken! The same applies to "As uncertain as a baby's bottom." !

"Dressed up like a dog's dinner" was something my mum used to say. Spotting a neighbour looking unusually smart, she would comment, "Where's he going then, all dressed up like a dog's dinner?" It was perhaps an event unusual enough to comment on, but most country dogs got fed on scraps, so I don't know its origin.

Another saying which I am familiar with is "Don't spoil the ship for a h'aporth of tar" - in other words, spoiling much by skimping a little. However - according to Fred Archer, it didn't have anything to do with a "ship". He maintained that it was referring to sheep - the dialect word "ship" was often used in the midlands (spelt that way) for sheep, thus meaning that by skimping on the (Stockholm) tar used to treat various sheep ailments, you might well lose the sheep. This particularly so in the case of fly strike, where the blow fly maggots cause open wounds.

"A creaking gate hangs a long time" or the version I am familiar with, "A creaking gate makes the most noise." This refers to people who seem to take pleasure in being ill - or at least, telling you at length about their ailments, and yet they are often the ones who will hang on for years and years, and other, seemingly fitter people, may go suddenly in their prime.

Finally, for the singers amongst you: "God loves the Crow as well as he loves the Nightingale. He sings like a Bumble Bee in a churn." Sadly, not everyone sings as well as the choir . . . my late mother-in-law once described my singing a nursery rhyme to my daughter as "That sounds like the tune the old cow died of" - in my defence, I did have a cold at the time . . .

The photograph this time is not quite a Worcestershire view, but one from Gloucestershire, on a sunny evening looking westwards from Frocester Hill, above Kings' Stanley.


MammyT said...

I love it! I think I'm going to incorporate your mum's use of the "dog's dinner" phrase into a conversation real soon.
That "tar" one could have been about a ship. If they skimped on the "tar" for waterproofing, well, they'd lose the whole thing. Again, keep 'em coming.

Kelli said...

That sounds like a wonderful book and I LOVE the photo...what a beautiful!

MammyT said...

I know I left you a comment on this post yesterday. Did you not get it? I'd be glad to try to do it again. I probably touched a wrong key and sent it sailing into cyberspace.

Bovey Belle said...

I think the post should be there now Nancy - I clicked on it, but the connection, "he was feeble" . . . I'm still inclined to think that in coastal areas, a ship was a ship!

Kelli - it's a fascinating book, and I'm still smiling at the "He sings like a bumblebee in a churn"!