Archive for April, 2015

Old sayings disappearing

April 13, 2015 2 comments

I have noticed that over the years our use of local sayings are disappearing and words used on popular TV shows are moving into everyday speech. Uni (university) for example, r (Are), c (see) u (you) 4 (for). Get the gist.

‘Haad thee pipe’ was in common use meaning wait, for example meaning you wanted to catch someone up when walking or running. ‘Three sheets in the wind’ meaning a person had too much to drink (alcohol). ‘Daft as a brush’. I think that explains itself. ‘Hang on man’ again meaning wait. ‘Blatherskite’ meaning a person who talked too much. ‘Gallower’ for horse. I think this would come from the Galloway breed of pony used down the pit. The old word ‘thou’ was still in use ie ‘Thou said that a few minutes ago’.

The word ‘class’ meaning clothes ie ‘His pit claes’ the clothes he wore down the pit. Pit clothes were clattered against an outside wall to get the muck and dust out of the. This action was described as ‘dadding’ the clothes. Where this was done on a regular basis against a wall there was a darkened area. Can anyone add to this. Brian mc.

Categories: Memories

A 25% Genetic Overlap Is Not The Only Thing On Offer

April 12, 2015 6 comments

The Tory Party is obnoxious while the Labour Party is merely inefficient. There, I said it. But that is not what this post is about. I want us to think about our grand-parents; were they obnoxious or inefficient, or something entirely different, and how do we compare with them?

I can only recall knowing two grand-parents, both on the maternal side, namely Richard [1902 – 1983] and Ethel Hope [1903 – 1978]. It’s unfair to judge them on information that is always likely to be insufficient so strong impressions are the best we can hope for.

Richard is already well documented on this site. He was a good man and achieved a measure of success in terms of career and humanity; mind you I have an overwhelming feeling that he voted Tory which if true would have made him a bit of a rare animal in the humanity stakes and Ushaw Moor. I cannot recall getting a cuddle of a kiss from him but I did and do feel considerable love and warmth towards him. I recall that he bought me at least two books; Jane Eyre and Two Years Before The Mast, so his choice of books covered femininity and masculinity and that would not have done me any harm.

I cannot remember Ethel ever giving me a kiss or a cuddle. She seemed a little self-absorbed and formal but never afraid of hard work. She liked a bit of gossip [which, as you well know, is normal] but it never reached absurd heights. She also liked fish and chips, blackberry pie and ginger beer. Her pronunciation of the word lettuce was extraordinary.

My grand-parents lived through tough times, especially between 1926 – 1950, yet never wavered in their loyalty to each other and their family. Richard’s threat to throw Ethel into Loch Ness during a rare domestic incident while on holiday does not count. They were both honourable people although perhaps a little formal and serious.

I am a grand-parent and the words informal, soppy, loving, inefficient and caring come to mind when I am self-judging, but beware, I am biased! In The Night Garden – brilliant – but I am sure that you must be tired of me stating the obvious. Oh, I must not forget Mr Tumble – nearly did.

In the Western world a lot of people [but far from all] can expect to live longer than Richard and Ethel; consequently they might end up not only baby sitting but also loving and caring for very elderly and frail parents and doing so, without hesitation, all on the same day. Furthermore, if we are able, some of us give much needed money to family members while actually enjoying doing so! I say to those that attack baby boomers as being a waste of space and money, as well as a drain on the NHS, please stop being unkind and ignorant.

This little post is send to you with love and produced despite pain and threat to sleep [see previous post] please bear that in mind when I now ask you to post a bit about your Valley grand-parents; it will help me to understand mine a little more.


Categories: Memories

Enjoy Life Because It Really Is Later Than You Think

April 7, 2015 2 comments

I have some wonderful memories of New Brancepeth and Ushaw Moor and snow drops, catkins and wallflowers come to mind. I cannot help thinking: what is this obsession with flowers? Then we have screeching multi-coloured chalks; galloping locomotives in frosty February at a time when George the sixth was freshly in his coffin and Al Jonson’s life was being depicted at the Empire cinema.

It was not all sunshine then. I recall the feral bully and his snotty spittal that bullseyed into my face just as I was entering the working men’s club to watch a film. Tarzan. Probably.

Back then the body responded to requests like last year’s BMW model. Slow slow, quick quick slow, football on the green thanks to jam and bread, lots of milk and that internal car engine. I could go on but your appeal and wail is heard, so I won’t.

That was then: for the last six weeks I have found my body to be very painful; more like a depressed Lada than a BMW. During this time I have averaged, I suppose, about two hours broken sleep per night owing to a neck problem and inflamed shoulder.

What larks: being physically sick in the doctor’s consulting room [I had a bucket ready]; wearing jimjams in the medical centre waiting room, for all to see; nobody seemed interested in my clothing so I relaxed. It was not just about being with medics: much time has been spent in my lounge, in the middle of the night, watching a recording of Call the Midwife/Law and Order and goodness knows what. No, not that. Adult channels are for the impressionable.

I had a good night last night and the result of my MRI scan is awaited. Look, while your body is well oiled and firing on five gears, enjoy life. Look after your family and be good to your friends.

It really is later than you think.


Categories: Memories

The Northern Counties School Certificate

April 5, 2015 5 comments

This regional certificate was introduced in 1959 and taken by thousands of ‘A’ form pupils at secondary modern schools and county schools in Durham, Northumberland, Yorkshire and Cumberland [as it was then called] at the end of their fourth year. To achieve the educational context for this award google: The Beloe Report.

I was awarded the certificate in 1960. As a matter of interest in 1961 the average number of pupils taking it, at schools that were offering it, was 18 and the percentage of candidates awarded the full certificate was close to 65%. The pass mark was 40%, credit 60%, and distinction 80%. There was an attempt to reduce the pass mark but teachers refused to accept such a change.

It was a very large certificate but size is not everything! The GCE was much more prestigious. A headmaster of that time called Mr J Golightly [not in post at our school] explained that the Northern Counties Technical Examination Council had introduced a wide variety of subjects in which English, arithmetic [or mathematics] were compulsory. If a pupil wished to offer arithmetic and mathematics then a fifth subject had to  be selected, and all five passed from a menu that had been split into two groups.

Group 1 [more academic]
Art, biology, commerce, English Literature, French, general science, geography, history, music and religious education.

Group 2 [more practical]
Accounts, housecraft, metalwork, needlework, shorthand, technical drawing, typewriting and woodwork.

Otherwise to obtain the certificate the candidate was required to pass in English Language, and arithmetic or mathematics, plus at least two other subjects of which one had to be in group 1.

A statement of success was awarded to candidates who did not qualify for the full certificate but had passed in one or more subjects.

Some schools were able to offer such pupils the Northern Counties and the GCE. Ushaw Moor Modern was one of those, although not during my time. I know that in at least one year of the 60s the pupils at Ushaw Moor Modern averaged just over four GCE O level passes and that compared quite well with grammar schools.


Categories: Memories

School Football

April 4, 2015 3 comments

It is well documented on this site that the Ushaw Moor County School football team was a very good side in the late 1950s but the Ushaw Moor Modern team that followed them in 1959/60 was a disappointment; why that was takes some study. Certainly our goalkeeper Minnis was enthusiastic and competent but he was not very tall and at times that put him at a disadvantage. Our left back Allan Dunn was a little overweight and lacked both pace and positional sense. The halfback line looked good on paper and most of the time performed quite well but I cannot help thinking that if the school had been able to slot in an alternative to me at centre-half I could have served the team very well at left-back and cut out a fundamental weakness in that position.

Looking back the Modern side seldom conceded more than one goal per match but there were exceptions including a horrible 8-0 home defeat to Fencehouses in a County Cup match. They looked older and taller than us and the scoreline reflected how the game went. I recently discovered that the Fencehouses team was regarded as one of the best in the North-East at that time, so I suppose that softens the blow a bit.

As for the Ushaw Moor Modern forward line it seldom scored many goals. For one thing centre forward Dennis Pinkney would have performed better on the left wing, as he had done for Ushaw Moor County. Although inside forward Bob Moore smoked too much he could have scored more goals if only he had enjoyed better service; I know that because he had some skill and determination.

In contrast to the Ushaw Moor Modern senior side the school’s Intermediate team performed well that season and won their league. I remember Buster Burnet, its centre forward, because he was in direct opposition to me in a friendly match between the school’s two teams in 1960. He was a very determined player and scored that day! The older side played high up the pitch knowing full well that it could be caught out by the Intermediate team in breakaway attacks. That is why we found ourselves 2-0 down to the younger boys! There was no panic in the older boys’ camp: we simply started to stay close to their forwards while continuing to pummel their defence. After that game, which the older boys won very comfortably by 5-2, I heard two lads talking about the game: one said that the older boys had been given a fright however the other lad disagreed and stated that the young ones had been given a start; how perceptive.

Categories: Memories