Friday, 4 March 2011

I Say!

I have just returned from a quest westward with Mr Gnarus seeking out many of the historical and antiquarian sites & delights that the dramatic county of Shropsire has to offer. Our journey westward was a journey back in time and took in ruinous Roman Basilica, atmospheric medieval nunneries, churches where time appears to have stopped in the early seventeenth century and even a reconstructed Victorian Village at Blists Hill, which is set within the Iron Bridge Gorge, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.


The bank and other shops at Blists Hill


Great costumes and great sayings at Blists Hill


A funny sign at Blists Hill.
*Please ensure all ladies, children and servants are out of the room prior to enlarging this photo


Mr Gnarus and I spent a good few happy hours there this very day, chortling at some very dubious signage and sampling its many delights and I can thoroughly recommend the bakers shortbread. Indeed, some like the baker were real tradesmen skilled in their work whilst others among the local inhabitants termed themselves 'demonstrators' and were a mine of information. Especially when it came to the origins and evolution of certain well known sayings, all of which are related to some aspect of the artisan's craft long, long ago. I committed them to memory, only so as to regurgitate them here for your enjoyment...

To Come a Cropper - Meaning to have an accident.
In the 19th century one Thomas Cropper invented the Cropper printing press which was commonly operated by children of twelve years and over. Many got their hands trapped in the press and due to the momentum of its large and powerful flywheel, many lost fingers and hands. Hence the saying.

Being in Fine Fettle - Meaning to be in good health in both mind and body.
'Fettling' is the process of cleaning off the residue and other materials left on an object by the process of casting, whether that be cast iron or plaster work which was a popular craft in the 19th century. Thus when an object was fettled it was seen to be in good order, hence the saying.

Stinking Rich - Meaning to be very wealthy.
Candle makers producing cheap tallow (Animal fat) candles in the 19th century could produce huge amounts of candles for sale. We were informed this day that one man, working 19 hours a day, 6 days a week, could make 30,000 candles in a week, which he sold by the lb . Most of his materials like animal fat had no other use and so were cheap and so a hard working candle maker could make lots of money. But tallow or animal fat is very smelly and it seeped into the skin, leaving the candle maker a bit whiffy, hence the saying.

Old Git - Meaning someone who is not liked and is even considered a waste of space.
When Iron was cast using the sand moulding technique, the reservoirs into which molten iron was poured and also allowed to expand and escape was of course also filled with excess cast iron that had to be removed after the cast object has cooled. These excess iron pieces were called 'git's and were waste material, hence the saying.

That's it for now. I hope you enjoyed these sayings as much as did I!

+Many Coats+ R.S.A.R

9 comments:

  1. Dear Mr. Many Coats,

    A most fascinating compendium Sir! My nephew, Tristram, was standing behind me when I enlarged the photograph. Being of a fragile disposition, I'm afraid the poor lad had an attack of the vapours, and is still not feeling himself!

    Huzzah!

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  2. I rather think I've just come a cropper putting my hand into the food processor (elevate, apply pressure... feint!)

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  3. I did warn you Munro, although I think it's time that Tristram found out just how wicked the world can be.

    Shazzah!

    +Many Coats+

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  4. Hello Sally

    It's good to see you here in this hallowed place, although please be careful not to bleed on the carpet!

    +Many Coats+

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  5. I've just had a really hard poo and now i've got an inflamation on my 'down below'.

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  6. I'm sorry to hear that Ethel. Perhaps you should make us all a nice cup of tea.

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  7. Dear Mr. Many Coats,

    I just spent a mesmerising four minutes and fourteen seconds watching the iron casting in the video via your link - made quite an impression!

    Huzzah!

    ~ Munro Tweeder-Harris, Esq. R.S.A.R. ~

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  8. It is a wonderous thing isn't Munro and they do actually cast one day a week at Blists Hill. Alas it wasn't on the day of our visit.

    I particularly enjoyed the musical accompanianent didn't you!

    +Many Coats+

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  9. Dear Mr. Many Coats,

    Yes, I did enjoy the music immensely!

    Huzzah and a hey-nonny yes!


    ~ Munro Tweeder-Harris, Esq. R.S.A.R. ~

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