Nobbut laiking: Ros Brewster

Date: Monday 22nd January 2018

FOR as long as I can remember, whenever I bump into ubiquitous Herald photographer Fred Wilson we share a greeting that mystifies the uninitiated. “Hods oot weel,” Fred will say. “Sec a laal bit does,” my response.

They say it pays to advertise, and Appleby grocer John Parkin certainly knew his onions in that regard, although it was his adverts for Hy-Cup tea in the Herald, over a period of more than 80 years, that caught the eye--and gave Fred and myself our unusual salutation.

Hy-Cup tea was packed and sold by Parkins at their shop on The Sands in Appleby before the First World War and John Parkin was ahead of his time with his gimmicks and use of local and national themes in his adverts. When, in 1911, the new monarch’s wife was to be Queen Mary, Mr. Parkin, with all his customary enterprise, offered a packet of tea to every bride-to-be in Westmorland named Mary.

Well, we all know that “everything stops for tea” as the song says. And that must be why Freddie and me caught on to the Parkins advert with its catchy dialect message. Be it a show, a carnival or any other event, it’s a case of “hods oot weel, sec a laal bit does”.

Tea seems to have been an essential part of life in Penrith and the Eden Valley since way back. Indeed, going back a very long way, Penrith once had it own blend, Beacon Tea, which was sold by former town grocers Pattinson and Winter.

Our tea-drinking habits, as a nation, were put under the spotlight in a recent You Gov survey on behalf of the Contact The Elderly charity, which revealed that people in the UK drink enough tea annually to fill two bath tubs.

The average Brit enjoys 884 cuppas a year. The over-55s are the principal consumers with an average 21 cups a week. For the 18-24 year olds it’s nearer eight. However, 58 per cent. of adults of all ages confirmed they associate tea with comfort.

One British Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Richard Henderson, went further in attributing tea breaks to his success as inventor of a technique that allows scientists to use electron microscopes to examine molecules from living organisms. Wow, and all on a cuppa, folks.

Prof. Henderson said having a tea break was “very important” to his discovery because it enabled him to share insights with colleagues. “A lot of the best ideas come from discussions from across disciplines. Most people, particularly the ones who value this exchange of information, go to the canteen,” he said.

I’m sure that, were John Parkin around today, he’d have introduced the words of Prof. Henderson in his adverts. You know the sort of thing — “Nobel Prize winners can’t think straight without a cup of Parkins’ tea” or “Hy-Cup tea, the drink of inventors”. Even now, the memory of those ads in t’Herald still hods weel.

COTTAGES OF ILL REPUTE?

THE Bishop of Derby, the Right Rev. Dr. Alastair Redfern, reckons homes in the Peak District are being rented by gangs of traffickers who are bringing young girls into the area to work as prostitutes.

The Daily Mail, under the lurid headline “The Brothel District” went further in suggesting that holiday cottages in many scenic parts of the North, including Cumbria’s Lake District, might similarly have been used as “pop-up brothels”.

The Mail stated that police had warned of gangs using tourist hotspots for nefarious purposes, specifically quoting warnings in Cornwall and the Lake District. It’s new to me, but if it’s true then it’s a serious matter. Our principal concern about holiday homes is more to do with the loss of affordable homes for local people than the Bishop’s claim that criminals rent a secluded place for a few weeks, make a lot of money then flit before they are found out.

We’ve heard of Houses of Ill Repute, but Rural Cottages of Ill Repute doesn’t have the same ring about it. However, if Bishop Alastair is correct, and businesses have been slow to connect some of their customers with organised crime, then it’s a bit more worrying than a catchy headline.

CLEVER TIMING

WE undoubtedly have problems with waste, whether it’s the plastic filling up the seas, illegal dumping or a host of other issues relating to disposal of unwanted products.

However, call me an old cynic, and I’m sure some of you will, but isn’t the Prime Minister’s declaration of war on waste a distraction at a time when the number one priority should be sorting out the crisis in hospitals where we can’t provide the care and support the sick, elderly and vulnerable deserve?

Mrs. May says sorry. But after another week in which hospitals have come under intense pressure, surely plastic bottles and carrier bags, even if they are important environmental issues, could wait a little while longer.

After talk of a latte levy we can all play a part by dispensing with that ludicrous business of carrying plastic cups of coffee around with us — we get through seven million throwaway coffee cups every day. What happened to the office kettle and bring your own coffee mugs to work?

Yes, we must act on waste. But first things first. It’s the hospitals that need the PM’s help right now. Politicians are notorious for burying bad news. The cynic in me can’t help thinking that Theresa May, faced with mounting problems in the NHS, found plastic wrappers a rather convenient diversion during yet another bad week for the Government.

“E” HECK!

“THOO got that wrang, lad,” hailed a reader across the fruit and veg aisle when I popped into one of Penrith’s supermarkets the other day.

My recent note about William Whitelaw’s transport arrangements, when he was a leading government minister travelling between Westminster and his home at Ennim in his Penrith and Border constituency, revived a hoary old chestnut, the spelling of Blencowe, or should it be Blencow?

I spent a good 45 minutes searching earlier Herald articles in an endeavour to arrive at the definitive spelling prior to despatching the item to the editor. Yet, according to one local, I still got it wrong.

My distinguished predecessor as Herald columnist, John Hurst, once debated similarly over the issue of “to e or not to e”, as he put it, with passing reference to Shakespeare. The newspaper had long used the final “e”, although some readers had pointed out a signpost clearly giving the name of the village as Blencow.

As ever, John’s local history knowledge came to the fore, showing that Blencowe stemmed from the name of the family which once owned the place, and he was able to quote from such worthy tomes as Cumberland Families and Heraldry and the Cumbria Family History Society’s records to prove his point.

John Hurst’s explanation was that a signwriter or council official must, at some time in the dim and distant past, not have been concentrating when painting the road sign. All I could say to my doubter was “if it was good enough for John Hurst then it’ll do for me”.

Blencowe or Blencow, I’m certain that Willie Whitelaw, weighed heavily by matters of state and international politics, not to mention Maggie Thatcher, loved his weekends there, whatever its spelling.

BLOW UP A PENSIONER

PICTURE the scene. You’re a pensioner walking through Penrith’s Narrows when your airbag goes off unexpectedly taking out half a dozen shoppers, blocking the street for the next hour until the fire brigade cuts both you and your innocent victims free.

Airbags for OAPs. I thought it was a joke. But, no, apparently it’s one of the ideas that emerged at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, where all sorts of futuristic developments were rolled out, from folding TV sets to 3D printing and personal robots.

Oh, and a French start-up called E-Vone that has created shoes with sensors that notify friends and families if you take a tumble and, even more ambitious, a wearable product with airbags on your hips which inflate in 0.8 of a second when a fall is detected.

Care for the elderly? Presumably the next thing will be GPS devices you can fit to your elderly relatives to guide them home if they go wandering. Really, it’s no joke. Don’t let anyone try to convince you getting old is fun.