My Granda and my Nana

My Aunty Mill (back row, second from the right)
This is a picture of the teachers at Pelton Infant and Junior School when it first opened
in (I think) 1909. Aunty Mill's future husband (my Uncle Will) is seated on the left.


In this posting...
*The things people say
*Grandfather's Clock
*A truckshunting motto
Now, read on, Macduff...

Thankyou to yet another new emailer to the truckshunters inbox (address below). Carol is from Peterlee, which she colourfully calls ‘our mutual paternal acres‘. (Later in her email she tells me she’s a teacher, although she didn’t need to. I ask you: mutual paternal acres.)

She says our recent musings on the blog about family sayings, adages and quips served to revive some fond memories of her Nana. Apparently, when a visitor her Nana didn’t like was being waved away down the path, Nana would shout a friendly ‘Bye!‘ and then utter, under her breath, ‘and thank your mother for the rabbits!’.

I love that one and I wonder, like Carol, if anyone can trace its origins.

My own Nana, incidentally, had her own phrase for under-the-breath mutterings like these; she called them ‘stage whispers’.

But back to Carol. In her email, she asks if anyone can remember an ‘alternative‘ version of the days-in-the-month mnemonic verse. She and her chums used to say:

Dirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
February’s day are quite all right -
It only rains from morn to night.
All the rest have thirty-one
Without a blessed gleam of sun.
And if any of them had two-and-thirty
They’d be just as wet and just as dirty.

Much more fun than the real thing, Carol. Can anyone else remember it, or something like it?

A final few words from my Nana, whose stock phrases have come flooding back to me since this subject was first aired.

Her description of being made to feel unwelcome was ‘I don’t want you to go but here’s your hat’.

If, as kids, she thought we were getting a bit uppity and needed cutting down to size, she’d say ‘Think yourself lucky you’re in the band - the instrument you play!’

And if someone was almost - but not quite - right about something, she described them as being ‘in the right chapel but the wrong pew’.

Why don’t people talk so fragrantly nowadays?

...will take place on Wednesday 23 December. We’ll be foregathering at the foot of Grey’s Monument at 1100 (or, in inclement meteorological circumstances, in the Pret opposite). I know this is a tricky time of year and that you may conceivably have other things on your mind. So please don’t put yourself out for this one. As if.

Whatever happens, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

I’ve had a sternly-worded email from ex-Blue Bus producer Natasha berating me roundly for not telling her - in all the years we worked together - about the famous ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ in Piercebridge, County Durham.

As a matter of fact, she’s quite right to feel aggrieved. It’s a truly fascinating legend which I’ve known virtually all my life, my Aunty Mill having been not just a big fan of local folklore but also a formative - and formidable - influence on my life from that day to this.

(For the uninitiated, the story goes that the ‘long case clock’ (as they were then known) in The George pub at Piercebridge suddenly slowed down when one of the two brothers who owned it died. When the other brother died, the clock stopped altogether. Isn’t that a lovely story?)

The American poet and lyricist Henry Clay Work (awesome name!) heard the story somehow and promptly wrote the words of what was to become a world-famous music-hall song: Grandfather’s Clock. Absolutely everybody knows that it 'stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died'.

And it’s said that the fashion for calling such clocks by that name originates with Henry’s song. And all because of a charming South Durham legend.

Incidentally, the clock is still there. The owners of The George will show it to you very proudly indeed, as well they might.

In fact, you could spend a very enjoyable and illuminating couple of hours in Piercebridge, clocks notwithstanding. The village sits atop the Roman fort of Morbium and the village green is an almost perfect square, reflecting the shape of the fort underneath - just like the village square at Blanchland.

There are Roman ruins above ground as well, just to the east of the green. Further east still is a Roman relic of national importance. The Romans built bridges wherever they needed to, of course - including here at Morbium. But, apart from the abutment bases visible at Chesters fort on Hadrian’s Wall, this is the only place in England where you can still see one.

So my affectionate apologies to Natasha for neglecting to pass on all this information. As a matter of fact, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t think it was ever mentioned on the Blue Bus programme, either - or on the Roots programme that preceded it.

And I’m grateful to Natasha for suggesting the tagline you see above, under the Truckshunters heading. You may recognise it as coming from J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

I’m in total agreement with Natasha. Not only are the words liberating and uplifting; they also pinpoint several truths which, in the shallow hurly-burly of modern life, are often overlooked or even ignored.

I found Tolkien’s original version of the verse on the internet. It’s almost as good.

All that is gold does not glitter;
All that is long does not last;
All that is old does not wither;
Not all that is over is past.

I love the last line, there.

In fact, in the tagline above, I reckon the Honorable Company of Truckshunters has found itself a motto. After all, these postings - and the comments and emails they precipitate - may be a little wayward - but ‘lost’ is the very last thing we truckshunters are. Am I right or am I right?

Post comments on this blog or email me:


Hildie said...

Hi Ian and the Truckshunter Family, I am planning an early night but thought I'd look in on you. Aww, how lovely to see your Nana and Granda .... and especially your AUNTY MILL!! We have heard so much about her over the years. She was quite a character, by all accounts!
I am halfway through an Induction Course (to be a Support Worker with Vulnerable adults) ... but I wanted to come and tell you about my first day .... you know that bit when everyone takes a turn to stand up and introduce themselves to the rest of the group .... when you have to say a little something about themselves? Well, I gave my name, and told them where I came from and told them I'm a semi-retired Primary School teacher and DO YOU KNOW WHAT? Just before I sat down I was desperate to end it all with a flourish by adding, "And I'm a Truckshunter!"
Honestly, the temptation was becoming so over-whelming that I had to sit myself down before I came out with it!
I've been learning about Protection of Vulnerable Adults, doing some Health and Safety, some First Aid and Epilepsy Training and all kinds of stuff like that. During my (very short) lunch breaks I have been meeting up with my sister-in- law, Valerie, who lives in Stockton. She took me yesterday to this cafe in the middle of Stockton High Street ... the strangest set-up I have ever seen. You can smoke there (if you are so inclined). Ian, I must take you there one of the days so that we can work out how they are getting around the law. It is a permanent fixture that seems to be up on a platform, surrounded (to a certain height) with glass or perspex, and then there is a gap before a sort of tarpaulin roof, and they provide little fleece blankets on the chairs inside the cafe - case you get a bit chilly.
There is a young, gay guy on the course, his name is Sean and he is providing all the entertainment anyone could ever need, he is so, so funny.
Well, it's back to school for me tomorrow, thank heavens it's Friday
though, it has been a very , very long week!
Thanks Sid and Ian for your messages asking how it has been going, Truckshunters are lovely, you know .... those messages really made me feel cared about
as I ventured into the unknown!

Sid said...

I made the deliberate choice this time around of not posting a comment as quickly as I usually do. Give the other folks the chance to have a word in first I thought. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

You are undoubtably right Ian, being lost is not for us. Mind you, there have been times when I've been unsure as to my whereabouts.....

The expression 'Thank your mother for the Rabbits' seems to come from the time when female rabbits were used to determine if a woman was pregnant or not.
Pregnant ladies produce a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin, known as hcg. This hcg is found in their urine. When this urine is injected into the female rabbit, distinct ovarian changes occur (in the rabbit), within a few days.
Thus the 'rabbit test' was born. In the very early days the rabbit had to be killed in order to examine the ovaries to determine that the woman was pregnant. Although the rabbit ALWAYS died, it became common for a woman to tell someone she was pregnant by saying "the rabbit died".
So, thank you for the rabbit means to thank your mother that you are alive/born.

Sid said...

Is it just me...
Radio Newcastle have been running a trailer for one of their weekend shows. It contains a confession from a woman who found money near a bus stop. She was alone (apart from her dog.)She spent the money on wallpaper for her bedroom. Both her and the presenter laugh.
This is theft, and shouldn't be laughed at. The money could have been dropped by the richest person in the's still theft. What on earth are the BBC upto.

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks,

Sid, I agree with you. The Beeb seems to have got it wrong yet again!

Ian, have I got it wrong, but your latest 'Follower' (MBT) appears to be using Truckshunters for advertising purposes?

Just learnt today that my youngest nephew, Michael, and his girlfriend, Cara, became engaged yesterday on Cara's birthday! Great to hear some good news for a change.

Sid said...

That's lovely news Vivienne. I wish both of them all the very best.
I noticed the MBT thing Vivienne, thought it strange, then dismissed it.

Vivienne said...

Thank you Sid. They are a lovely couple and have been together since their mid teens.

Re MBT, I viewed her profile and decided that she's using the blog to advertise. Forgive me if I'm wrong MBT. Please post a Comment to tell us how you know Ian, or learnt about Truckshunters. We always welcome newcomers into the fold. So we would like to welcome you too.

Love, Vivienne xxx

Maureen said...

Hi All,
Good to hear that you are fine and keeping busy Hildie. I've had a lot on my plate recently too, but hopefully it'll settle down after Christmas!
Sid that's a funny thing about the rabbits. Trust you to find all that information. It reminded me of someone who used to say 'I hope all their rabbits die' when someone had upset them. It was said in a joking kind of way and I always thought that it was something maybe from when they kept rabbits for food. But now yet again, I'm left wondering... and yes, that trailer annoys me too, but I must admit so do most of their trailers, but it's an interesting point. It's certainly not a case of leading by example.

Alison said...

Hello all
Ian - I LOVE the Photographs. They are amazing.

I was also interested in Sid's explanation about Rabbits as I have heard that expression a lot and had no idea of its origin.


Sid said...

Hello everyone.
For those of you in far flung lands the North East of England is in good spirits tonight after a local lad won a talent show called X Factor on national television.
His name is Joe McElderry. Use your favourite search engine and have a listen, he's done us all proud.

Maureen said...

Yes, congratulations to Joe! Even if you don't watch the show you couldn't miss the excitement that has surrounded the selection process. As you say Sid, it's done wonders for morale in the North East. Great to have something to celebrate!

Hildie said...

It couldn't have happened to a nicer person, could it? I'm so happy for him! He has certainly put South Shields on the map!!

Sid said...

I don't know about anyone else but I'm digging out my winter footwear. The forecast indicates wintry weather is on its way, and could last for a while.
I just love your profile picture Ian, you've hardly changed at all.

Sid said...

Here is a short news item that really made me smile...
Suspected thief ran three miles across fields and streams trying to escape from a PCSO....who loves cross-country running.
As he ran, the community support officer gave police a 'running' commentary (sorry) and the thief was arrested.

Hildie said...

Sid, I LOVE your news item!
Well, it's as sure as God made little apples that it'll snow in Dipton! I wonder if I'll get to Stockton to complete my Induction Course. The last day of the course is Thursday, maybe the snow will hold off a while for me. What do you reckon? What do you do in your allotment when it snows, Sid? Do you just maybe put the kettle on?
This is a bit of a shame ... my sister-in-law , Valerie, has a sister named Hazel .... on Sunday Hazel's son Anthony got married at Crathorne Hall over at Teesside..... the bride , Gemma, broke her arm on the morning of the wedding ! She opted, bless her, to not have a plaster put on until the wedding was over.

Sid said...

By this time of the year Hildie my allotment is normally having a bit of a rest. Just letting mother nature take it easy till the spring arrives. This year its had a proper soaking...and no maintenance jobs done.
The kettle has hardly been used, and the worlds problems not solved.
Maybe the winter will be short, and the spring early. I'll try and be ready if it is. You can't beat a freshly dug spud, and an enormous turnip....even if it is an exageration.

Sid said...

How did the bride break her arm Hildie.....did the groom not want to go.

Sid said... is a website that forecasts weather conditions. I have used it quite a bit in relation to my allotment, and it's mostly accurate At the moment it is predicting snow for this area on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
If any of you are travelling by road at this time I thought you might like to keep an extra eye on the weather.

Maureen said...

Thanks Sid, and how about if you are travelling over the roof tops? Hope that Santa will be ok...

Sid said...

I'm surprised Santa hasn't been stopped from travelling around that way Maureen. Has he thought about Elfin safety (groan).

Sid said...

No animal was harmed....
Ian, this one's made for you...

A Dutch veterinarian was fined 600 guilders for causing a fire that destroyed a farm in Lichten Vourde, the Netherlands.
The vet had been trying to convince a farmer that his cow was passing flatulent gas. To demonstrate, the vet ignited the gas, but the cow became a "four legged flame thrower" and ran wild, setting fire to bales of hay. Damage to the farm was assessed at £60,000. The cow was unharmed. AP.

Sid said...

The Sky news website (I'm sure other good news services may have the same thing) is running a story regarding a new Social Networking Virus.
It apparently arrives as a xmas card video, and when opened, creates absolute havoc with the pc.
Do be aware, these things are such a nuisance.

Maureen said...

Thanks Sid, I've checked it out on, a virus checking website. Apparently it is connected to Koobface which was a problem on facebook in 2008. Let's be careful out there!

Sid said...

I suppose this seemed like a good idea at the time....
In the middle of the 16th century you could be hung for attempting to commit suicide.

Anonymous said...

Message for Vivienne.
On Radio 4 on Monday 21.12 at 21.45pm the book pawprints in the moonlight is serialised for all of next week read by kevin whately.
Have a lovely Christmas everyone.
love Ada

Sid said...

Thanks for that Ada, I shall listen in. You still can't beat a good story or a play on the radio.

Ian Robinson said...

Ada...thanks for the info about Pawprints - I've actually bought two more copies as gifts for people... Sid, I'm wondering exactly how the bride managed to break her arm...'re right, the Dutch vet story would easily have made it onto the Nighshift Newsreel...and as for Elfin safety...

Sid said...

Welcome back Ian.

Vivienne said...

Hi Ada,

Thanks very much for letting me know about 'Pawprints....' We'll be able to catch it on 'Listen Again' if we miss any of the episodes. My sister is thoroughly enjoying reading her copy, which I sent her for Christmas.

Mrs. Mac....., the vet's wife, believes the author has embellished the details in the book regarding her husband. (I guess that's why he gave Mac a fictitious name.) She said he would never give up on an animal, nor would he call anyone, 'a sentimental fool.' This was because he was sentimental too! By the way, Mac had thought about writing a book about his experiences as a country vet, but his friend, James Herriot, beat him to it!

Anonymous said...

Oops sorry gave the wrong time its 9.45am not evening.
Too much sherry hic hic!!

Vivienne said...

Cheers Ada!!!

Love, Vivienne xxx

Sid said...

I know most folks are busy with one thing or another but I just had to say how glad I am that from today the nights get shorter and the days get longer. Prior to the snow and ice I had Rhubarb starting to show again at the allotment. This cold spell is just what it needed to put it to sleep.
I hope everyone is fit and well.

Vivienne said...

Sleeping Rhubarb..... cool!

Hildie said...

Hi Sid .... I hope that you are well too ... I wasn't too far from you today .... Asda at the Metro Centre ... then the Team Valley Retail Park.
And, tomorrow I start my new job!
I am just never going to be ready for Christmas.... I have given up
.... I've decided to try harder next year!!

Maureen said...

Thanks Sid, nice to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel! I'm always glad to think that we are heading towards Spring once Christmas is over.
Hildie, why don't you try my trick, I've postponed Christmas until New Year, dead easy really!

Sid said...

I'm sorry but (how many times has that been said...unless you're a politician) tomorrow's agm, I can't make it.
For those of you who can, I hope you have a great time.

Maureen said...

Sorry that I won't be able to join you either but can I take this opportunity to wish you all a VERY MERRY Christmas and an absolutely AWESOME New Year! Have a great time and meanwhile here are a couple of things to think about...
Q: If Santa doesn't have to age, then why has he become old?
A: He only appears to be old. He's an undercover kid.

Q: How can a sleigh possibly fly through the air?
A: If you were being pulled by eight flying reindeer, wouldn't you fly too?

Q: Why do we wish people a "Merry Christmas" instead of a "Happy Christmas"?
A: The two are about the same, but with "Merry Christmas" an extra twinkle is seen in the eyes.

Q: Why is a Christmas tree that has been chopped down called a "live Christmas tree"?
A: It's dead but doesn't know it, and yet it's having the time of its life.

Q: Why do we wrap our Christmas gifts with paper?
A: Because we like to see surprise and joy (real or kindly faked) in the recipients.

Q: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
A: Nowadays only four angels can dance there. Formerly there was no limit, but OSHA passed the Angel Safety Law recently, which also requires that the pin must be inspected twice each year for structural defects.

Q: How many gifts can Santa Claus's bag hold?
A: One less than infinity. Why one less? Because there's a limit to everything.

Q: How could a star that is high in the sky lead the Wise Men to a tiny manger on the ground?
A: Wisely, toward the end of their journey they asked directions from someone on the road. Had they not been so wise, they might have missed the manger by several hundred miles. (That person on the road has never been identified.)

Q: Is there really a Mrs. Santa Claus?
A: The best way to know for sure is to ask Santa Claus next time you see him.

Q: Why do we hear so many bells at Christmas time?
A: Because so many people ring them.

Q: Why do so many people ring bells at Christmas time?
A: For the poor, for the joy, and because a bell can say what words can't say.

Q: What can't words say?
A: The moment you wake up on Christmas morning, listen carefully. You may hear then what words can't say.

Copyright © 1996 by Alan Harris. All rights reserved. Copying and reprinting are permitted so long as credit is given and wording remains unchanged. Not to be sold in any form.

Sid said...

Why did my mam always say to me "clever clogs" when I did something she thought I couldn't.
Anyway...clever clogs Maureen. That was interesting.

Ian Robinson said... excellent FAQ :-))
Vivienne...I agree. The very idea of Sleeping Rhubarb is both mind-boggling AND cool...