Some more Nottinghamshire sayings

By R B Parish

Nottingham claims the origin of some well known expressions such as “Playing Gooseberry” which accordingly it records being in love rather than the present being caught up between two lovers.  The well known expression “Wrong end of the stick” is also said to have arisen in Nottinghamshire.

Many sayings relate to towns, for example “women were said to be obedient to their men in Newark”, this is said to have arisen from the number of Queens said to have resided in the castle, the behaviour of which, the local women would copy. The impact of industry underlies many expressions, such as:

“I cannot without lye and shame.”

Is a rather uncomplimentary saying, which is an early comment upon the inevitable pollution, produced by the many industries of the city. It is perhaps the earliest of such criticisms of the multitude of smithies, bakers and tanneries who produced smoke and smell. The expression is first noted in 1641. A similar expression is that:

“Nottingham the people and fuel stink.”

Perhaps needs no explanation (or should I qualify that if the air smells bad so do the people-not that we all know Nottingham people smell!)

 “Nottingham once stood on Mapperley Hills”

Describes the debt the town has to this area where all the brick fields and foundries were here from which the city of Nottingham was built. Similarly, the beneficence of the Sherwood Forest is recalled by:

“Shirwood my fire and the Trent finds me my fish”

A more ‘recent’ expression is:

“All the world and Bingham”

Relates to the days of the railways, when a notice board on the way to Newark would have an advert which read “Passengers and Parcels conveyed to all parts of the world-and Bingham” and as such the notice appeared to suggest Bingham was not part of the world and the expression stuck!

Work often created sayings, a North Nottinghamshire expression would recall:

“Tickhill! God Help You!”

This is recorded in 1820, by Christopher Thompson, an Edwinstowe man in his “autobiography of an artisan”.This is believed to date back to the time when the land was all freeholders and thus as these families held their own land and worked on it had no requirement for labour from outside. Hence anyone from Nottinghamshire going there for labour would exclaim “God help you!”

“Black Monday, Bloody Tuesday, Sorrowful Wednesday, Hollow Thursday, Boundsome Friday, Hey! For Saturday.”

Was explained as follows: Monday they could not work, Tuesday work went down badly, Wednesday there was no money to spend, Thursday hollow inside nothing to eat, Friday was bound some as pay day was near and Saturday was payday and fresh money was available although the observant may notice that not working one day may have meant little pay in the end!

There are doubtless more expressions and the author would be interested to hear them.


This page was added by R B Parish on 17/02/2014.
Comments about this page

The "Black Monday, Bloody Tuesday...." saying is recorded by Cornelius Brown in his book "Notes About Notts" (1874) (page 52) and it sounds as if he heard it being used in the year 1872. He writes "Two years ago [ie1872], speaking with a North Notts, countryman about the " sayings " he was acquainted with, we got the following about the days of the week: — Black Monday; Bloody Tuesday; Sorrowful Wednesday ; Hollow Thursday ; Boundsome Friday; Hey ! for Saturday i' th' afternoon ! His explanation was after this fashion : — Monday, could not work. Tuesday, work went down badly. Wednesday, worked with a sorrowful will because there was no money to spend. Thursday, hollow inside — little to eat. Friday, " boundsome " in spirit, because payday was nigh. Saturday, payday — a fresh stock of money".

By Edna Welthorpe
On 06/03/2014

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