Yorkshire Words Of The Week

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From: Mrs Val Russell, Secretary, Staintondale and Ravenscar Local History Group, Church Road, Ravenscar, Scarborough.

May Smith of Selby has previously mentioned money given to a boy for singing a song at New Year, and referred to the money given as “Lucky Bird.”

I was told of Lucky Birding by an elderly resident of this village (now deceased, but his dialect and vocabulary would have interested readers of your column). Apparently, boys went round on New Year’s Eve (I think) and girls on New Year’s Day, chanting a rhyme and hoping to get money in return. I was given the words to this rhyme by a farmer from the next village. This was always chanted, not sung.

“Lucky bird, lucky bird, luck, luck, luck

It’s time Missis and Maister were getting up.

If you don’t get up, you’ll have no luck

Lucky bird, lucky bird, luck, luck, luck.

We wish a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,

Good Luck to you and all you have

All through the year.

A good fat pig, a new calven coo,

Missis and Maister, how do you do.

We wish a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,

Good Luck to you and all you have All through the year.A barrelful of money and a cellarful of beer.”

I believe that varieties of this custom prevailed in North Yorkshire, certainly into the 1950s. I would be interested to know what variants there may have been, and how recently the rhyme has been used.

From: Bryn Niesyty, Newfield Crescent, Normanton, West Yorkshire.

My wife, Leeds born and bred, has always called the Christmas tree decorations ‘cockles’ but I have never heard anyone else use this term. I was born in Birstall and my mum, when she was getting really fed up, would say she was “getting to the band’s end”.

I never knew whether this was musical or a reference to string because we used to call string “band”.

Mum also, when she had an itchy bottom, would say “it was raining in China”.

From: Richard Smales, Barnsley Rd, Dodworth, Barnsley.

In the 1940s, I would be taken to the barber at Eli Shaw’s in Sheffield Road Barnsley for a short back and sides –“t’shears up t’back”. On arriving back home my grandmother would insist “I had t’dishcloth on”.

This entailed bending over the kitchen sink and having cold water applied with the dishcloth to the back of my head and neck, apparently to stop me catching cold.