An Old Fart Remembers

~ Snorting Cheese ~

Back in my day all the menfolk 'ud be snorting cheese, because there were cheese mills for miles around. Today people make do with the odd squirt of Primula up the blower, but it's not the same as the hard stuff.


One popular ditty of the time was the cheese song, which you heard being sung all over the place. The words went something like this:

I've got cheese up me nose
I've got cheese up me nose
I've got cheese for you
I've got cheese for me
Up one side I've got cheddar
Up t'other I've got brie
Oh I've got cheese
I've got cheese
I've got cheese up me nose

Of course, they were simpler times but we were none the worse for that.

~ Puthering Day ~

Course back in them days, Saturday were always puthering day. We'd all have to clear off and mam 'ud puther the whole house from top to bottom with a puthering stone. It were backbreaking work but them old lasses took proper pride in their homes. Woe betide anyone who got in the way on puthering day! There's many a time I come home early and got meself puthered along with the stove. There were an old song about it, went something like this:

Oh a-puthering we will go
A-puthering we will go
Not so fast and not too slow
Oh a-puthering we will go
And don't get in the way, think on
Yes a-puthering we will go.

Most folk today don't know what puthering is, but they were simpler times of course.

~ Rag-a-Tag My Neighbour ~

One of the most popular games we played when we were young 'uns was rag-a-tag me neighbour. Basically, how you played it was you stood in the middle of a muddy field, often in the pouring rain, for about one and a half hours while your mate went up the shops to buy a threepenny bottle of ginger ale. You had to stay perfectly still no matter what happened, even if you were being bitten by midges or a cow licked you or something.


When your mate came back you had to shout 'Wee Willy Handbo!' then hurl a brick into the nearest cow pat and run off and hide behind the public toilets on Argyle Street. And if anyone saw you had to chant:

Rag-a-tag me neighbour
Kick him in the knees
Rag-a-tag me neighbour
Fill his pants with cheese

It was a great game and everyone was playing it, not like kids today who just want to have fun all the time. Of course, those were simpler times.

~ The Mutton Man ~

Everyone used to look forward to the day that the mutton man came. In our street he used to come every Wednesday, with his cart loaded down with ducks' feet, donkeys' udders and pigs' willies. The whole lot would be buzzing with flies and it would stink to high heaven, and the mutton man would say that this were the sign of a quality since if the flies liked it then it must be good stuff. If you asked nicely, sometimes the mutton man would give you a pair of chicken tits or some cow's knees.

The mutton man also used to have a song...

...although the one that came round our way was a miserable bastard and 'ud never sing it. Oddly the mutton man never had any mutton, but then those were simpler times, of course.

~ Leathering Week ~

The first week in June were always leathering week and it were celebrated by everyone in the town. There would be leathering stalls up and down the high street, and everybody's place would be done up in bunting and flags. And on the Friday there would be the leathering festival, which was always the highlight of the year in them days. All the local girls would come together to perform the leathering dance, and there would be bread with grit in it, and an aubergine on a stick, and one year the drayman let us touch his horse.

There was also the special leathering song, of course. It went:

Leather, leather, leather, leather,
Leather, leather, leather...

Actually, now I come to think of it, it was all a bit crap. Why am I sat here talking to you when I could be playing Grand Theft Auto? Ta-ra...

Old Mill