Saturday, April 2, 2011

There’s nowt so queer as folk!

“Come and help me get these curtains down,” I shouted to the better half – the one with muscles – the other day, and before I could help myself I added, “It’s a lovely drying day and mark my words, there won’t be many of these before winter sets in.” The latter part was said in a broad Lancashire accent as if uttered from a shawl wearing, apron clad, clog hopping pinch faced washer woman! The fact that ‘winter doesn’t set in’ here in PE and that we are living in the middle of a 3 year drought made me feel pretty foolish!

Now where did that come from I thought and then this got me thinking about some of the other voices and phrases that rattle around my mind and occasionally pop out of my mouth. Words like ‘salt o’thearth’ when thinking about the fine qualities of some of the less pretentious people I know and “well I ‘ll go t’ foot of our stairs” – when experiencing an unexpected surprise (granted I haven’t said that for a while but I think it quite often). And “no wonder the weather is all upside down –its them Russians sending rockets into space.” Of course some of these words are part my growing up the latter phrase belonging to Nan Westwell who blamed most things on the Russians!

My roots are in the north of England but my family weren’t shawl wearing, apron clad, clog hopping pinch faced washer women so I can’t blame it all on them. I think TV programmes of the day are partly to blame. Coronation Street for example was full of characters who said “here you are chuck.” which I have been heard to say when dishing out the ice cream and chocolate sauce! I visited Coronation Street once on a trip to Granada Studio and wandered around the cobblestones looking for the Rovers Return so I could catch a glimpse of the ‘snug’ and I even knocked on Vera’s door to see if she wanted to come to Bingo. I was very tempted to buy a pair of Betty’s shocking pink plastic earrings in the souvenir shop but alas I didn’t have the leopard skill fake fur jacket to compliment them.

Catherine Cookson was in her prime around this time too. For those too young to remember or not acquainted with British fiction circa 1970, she wrote these gritty northern period dramas with characters like the Mallen Girl, Katie Mulhollnad and Tilly Trotter (yes really – there was a Tilly Trotter trilogy). It was all one story really – just sold...sorry told... in different ways. Always a poor but proud young woman, always a virgin, always set upon by a well to do mill owner or the son of a wealthy landowner, always another scheming female to be reckoned with and always a happy ending with the said Tilly Trotter, Mallen female or Katie ending up rescuing a failed business or working her fingers to the bone (another one of my recent utterances) to save the family name and marrying a wealthy mill owner, wealthy landowner or whoever she hated at first sight in the first chapter! It was all very addictive stuff and full of north east of England euphemisms that have been translated into 17 languages, but how they translated, `I'll skelp the hunger off you' or `He's got a slate loose' or `Bugger me eyes to hell's flames!' I really don’t know!''

So, as I was saying, all this norther-ness rattles around my mind and occasionally pops out of my mouth. One day I am sure that they will find a cure of AIDS but I am a product of the north and a child of the fifties - a terminal condition, I am stuck with it - “Ee By Gum”! There’s nowt so queer as folk!”


  1. as a northerner living in a house full of southerners my half-remembered and oft quoted sayings are seized upon as hilarious mum-sayings. my favourites is 'go to elephant lane' and I'm fond of 'nettled hen' and 'fleck'.

  2. LOL - You can take the girl out of the north but you can take the north out the girl!