Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tail Corn

The expression itself in a country sense means the small, light or undersized grains in a sample. In this case, it refers to country sayings in the magazine The Countryman, which I collect back issues of. I found one from 1965/66 at the car boot sale last weekend, and for 50p it came home with me.

I thought I would share the examples of colloquial chat with you, as such things seem to be a thing of the past these days (they were gradually lost to The Countryman magazine too, so one assumes not enough were submitted by readers to keep the page going). Anyway, enjoy:

Farmer's wife, of sick husband who has lost much weight: ''Couldn't hardly find him in the bed. He were just like a crease in the blanket."

Hampshire farmer, of bearded student: "'E looked jus' like a rat peepin' through a besom."

Lancashire woman, to visitor inquiring for her aged mother: "'Oo's sittin' round t' speer. 'Oo's as faust as a boggart.' (She's sitting behind the partition. She's as cunning as a hobgoblin.)

Gloucestershire postmistress, of husband's appendix operation: "'E's 'ad a bit of 'is chitterlin's out."

Kentish farm worker, searching for his lunch bag: "I 'ung a bit of a scran bag 'ere 'smornin'. 'Pears summun's snuk it."

Orra man on Fifeshire farm, bringing news of arrival of laird's first=born: "Naebody tell't me. I saw the hippens hingin' oot. What mair wad ye hae?" (Hippens - nappies).

Yorkshireman, to vet who left medicine for dog: 'Ah give it 'im an' locked 'im oop, an' a couple of hours after 'e was as frisky as a cat an' fit ti roon a mile an' scream murther."

Wiltshire farm worker, describing feverish symptoms of his seven-year-old daughter: "She's all redded up as if she's busting to lay."

Scots straphanger in bus slewing round corner: "Guidsakes, Ah'm bein' ca'ed aboot like a birlie." (Child's hoop).

Herdsman's wife, of husband's employer: "'E's that mean 'e dreads milkin' time an' 'is cows gettin' a feed."

Veteran singer in Lancashire chapel choir, to nervous new member: "Tha'll be aw reet, lad. When Ah guz opp tha guz oop, an' when Ah guz doon, tha guz doon."


  1. I love these, esp. the 'hippens'. thanks for posting them.--hart

  2. I recall that you and I became acquainted through a lively discussion of colloquial speech--I am endlessly fascinated.
    Have to say I am sometimes embarressed when here in Kentucky I can't quickly translate the locals' remarks.
    The farm magazines to which we subscribed in our ag years [60's and 70's] were much enjoyed. Most of them had a section for 'the farm wife' with stitchery patterns to be ordered, recipes, sometimes a country 'bookshelf' of publications deemed to be of an edifying character. Most had a page of 'letters from our readers.'
    I just detoured over to Farm Journal--wasn't sure they were still in publication as we've been out of serious farming since 1977. It sounds like they've moved with the times.
    This from their site re founding of the magazine: "Farm Journal was first published in March 1877 for farmers in bountiful agricultural regions within a day's ride of the publication's office in Philadelphia. Founder Wilmer Atkinson was a Quaker, farmer and journalist, who insisted that his publication disseminate common sense information to farmers and their wives."
    Your quotes sound like something out of The Archers. I listened to that for years in Vermont when it was broadcast by Canadian Broadcasting Co from Montreal, Quebec. When Quebec got snooty about English vs French I lost touch with the Archers!

  3. Brilliant. I`m pleased to say that many of these country dialects are still alive and well among the hidden farms and villages of Britain. When my son, as a young vet,went on his farm calls in the rural Midlands and later in Cornwall, he often had to ask for a translation of some of the choicer remarks!

  4. Wonderful to read. When we visited England in 1997, I remember sitting on a bus in Bath and listening to a conversation between two old men who may as well have been speaking a foreign language their dialect was so broad! They tried talking to us, but we only understood about one word in ten I think. I really enjoy your blog. Cheers

  5. When I first taught school in Liverpool (12 year olds) I had one student I never did understand all year. The other students would translate for me.