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The AGM took place, as planned, at Oliver’s Cafe on Wednesday 23 February. The company assembled in good order and feasted on meringues, tea-cakes and coffee. It was all very sedate.
Proceedings were enlivened by the presence right next to us of three owls (barn owl, little eagle owl and Asian spotted owl, to be precise) and a kestrel, courtesy of the Ridgeway Wildlife Centre. It was half-term and they were there to raise awareness and funds, as well as to amuse the throngs of kids who gathered round.
It was lovely to see the kids’ faces as the birds swooped across and landed on the special gloves provided for the purpose. I suppose, like the rest of us, they’re townie kids who don’t really get many chances to be up close and personal with eagle owls and kestrels.
A very, very big thankyou to the four truckshunters who went to the trouble of turning up; Hildie, Nev, Linda - and Vivienne, the birthday girl herself.
Hildie suggested that we each bring with us a favourite local dialect word to contribute to Newcastle Library’s list. This was the only item on our AGM agenda and - what with meringues and Asian spotted owls and such - we completely forgot about it. Which is the way of things at AGMs.
So, in the spirit of continuity and good sense…
...here is the shortlist of my favourite local words.
There is some disagreement about the precise meaning of fettle. A dialect dictionary I’ve seen says it means ‘good condition’ but, in my opinion (which has no authority at all), it means simply ‘condition’, good or bad.
I’m not sure how common this is now, but my Nana and Mam used it all the time. It means ‘insipid, bland, ineffectual’. It rhymes with harsh, by the way.
I really love this word. It means ‘screen’ or ‘baffle’ (as in ‘baffle board’, not ‘puzzle’). If anyone can help with its derivation, I’d be very grateful to hear from you.
Again, one of my Nana’s words. It means ‘empty’. Miners (like my Granda) were paid fortnightly; the Friday without pay was ‘baff Friday’.
A pigeon. Not only does it sound so idiomatic - its derivation puzzles me, too.
‘Bothered, irritated, angry’. This is one of my all-time favourites. Last week, my brother discovered its derivation; it is descended from Old French, although I can't imagine how it was imported into the dialect of north-east England. As I’ve found out, the selfsame word is still used in ‘street French’ - facher, ‘to be angry, fed up or irritated’.
I'm not sure how many of our traditional local dialect words are falling by the wayside, or how quickly. It's true that Gregg's still bake and sell stotties, but are there any bakers offering fadges?
And, of the words in my list, I've only heard fettle, warsh and femmer used recently.
I’d be seriously interested in your suggestions for words we can add to the list. Get them to me in the any of the usual ways.
Upcoming AGM venues include Birkheads Nursery, the Lit and Phil and the Bowes and Tanfield Railways.
If there are any other venues you’d like us to scandalise, drop me a line.
The mention of meringues earlier has reminded me of a joke we heard from a listener…
A Geordie is attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen approaches with a plate of goodies and says ‘Would you like a piece of cake or a meringue?’
Geordie replies ‘No, Your Majesty, you’re quite right - I’d love a piece of cake’.
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