River Wissey Lovell Fuller


August 2009

Ian takes hisusak irreverant view of life in general and Norfolk in particular

A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon in Methwold, we enjoyed a Teddy Bears' Picnic in St George's Church. There were thoughtful moments, prayerful moments and a great deal of fun. There was a jam sandwich making competition between adults and children, during which the adults were blindfolded to handicap them. I could not help thinking of the man who lost his sight but not his wicked sense of humour; he was given a guide dog who also had a sense of humour. Their favourite trick was to go into a large department store where there was plenty of room. The man would bend down, stroke his guide dog and whisper in his ear. The dog would grin and wag his tail. The man would then throw the dog into the air and spin him around on the end of his lead in ever increasing circles. Inevitably, someone would demand to know what on earth he was doing, swinging his dog through the air and the response was always "Oh, I'm just having a look around".

This set me thinking about intrusive shop assistants. Head office and I found plenty of those during our visit to China; if we were looking at a cup and saucer, a shop assistant would come up and say "This is a cup" and "This is a saucer". Maybe they were just practising their English but it drove us nuts (see joke at the end of the article) and we inevitably left the shop without buying anything. When we are looking around, we like to do so undisturbed, with an assistant available for queries. The quickest way to drive us out of a shop is to be "in our face".

Get out your calculator and multiply 13837 by your age and then by 73. You will see your age repeated across the screen.

I have long been a fan of the Norfolk dialect. Although the Norfolk speech patterns have been relatively well preserved by Norfolk's relative isolation, they are under constant attack from Estuary English. Fortunately, Keith Skipper and other champions, who founded "FOND - Friends of Norfolk Dialect, are keeping the language alive. Here are a few Norfolk dialect words:

Bishy-barney-bee Ladybird

Cockey Stream or dyke

Puckaterry Muddle or confusion

Mawther Girl

Mardle To gossip or chat

Mob To scold or nag

Squit A load of old nonsense

Dwainy Weak or sickly

When I first came to Norfolk, I learned rapidly that someone who felt "anyhow" was unwell but, when that turned to feeling "fairly", things were on the mend.

I was recently reminded of Sidney Grapes, a rustic Norfolk comedian who died in 1958. A bicycle shop owner in Potter Heigham, he would pen "Boy John" letters to the EDP for 12 years from 1946. The letters featured Boy John, Granfar, the cantankerous Ole Mrs W and Aunt Agatha. I particularly liked one letter where Granfar came back from the pub complaining about the beer - "Poor Granfar, he go down the pub every nite, he come back a mobbin about the beer, he say he's right glad when he a' had enuf on it". The letter always carried a postscript which detailed Aunt Agatha's latest item of home spun philosophy, always presaged by "PS: Aunt Agatha, she say...":

"If yew dorn't git orl you want, think of things yow dorn't want - and dorn't git"

"Thass no good a' puttin' yar foot down if yew hint got a leg ter stand on"

OLD is when:

Going braless pulls the wrinkles out of your face.

You are cautioned to slow down by the doctor instead of the police

"Getting lucky" means finding your car in the car park

I promised you a joke at the end of the article. A gentleman visited the GP with a steering wheel stuck between his legs. "How long has it been there?" asked the GP. "Oh, about six weeks - it's driving me nuts!" Boom, Boom, as Basil Brush would have said! Whilst on the subject of motoring, I am able to bring you some breaking news. The USA are finally coming around to the idea that gas-guzzlers are not a good idea and that cars should be smaller and more economical. Ford USA have asked Renault, who are good at making economical cars, to cooperate in the production of a new model. After a lot of consideration, they have combined the Ford Taurus with a Renault Clio to make a zippy little car which they have name the Clitaurus. It will be manufactured in the UK, where the dashboard will be covered with beaver fur, and it will also be assembled in Brazil, where the dashboard will only have a narrow strip of the fur or, if requested, no fur at all. Best wishes to you all

Ian g Nisbet

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