Once upon a time in Britain they had mail trains, which some will recall as the subject of WH Auden's 'Night Mail' poem. They typically traversed the UK main lines, from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh; the trains were made up of many red carriages; each train was really a big mobile mail sorting facility - mountains of mailbags went onto the train at its departure point; others were collected en route, many whilst the train passed the collection point at full speed by an ingenious catcher built into the train, which grabbed the line-side bags from a special gantry as the train thundered past. Each mail train even had its own letter box, where very very last minute mail for the direction of travel could be posted late at night to ensure next day delivery. Anyhow, I once found myself as a schoolboy late at night on Carlisle railway station, which is the last stop in England for trains on the west coast main line to Glasgow, when the Glasgow -bound Night Mail drew in. I was in the station buffet, which was also the station bar, serving draught beer etc. I'd watched the buffet server curiously for the former ten minutes as she had poured about fifty pints of beer from the pumps and filled every spare space on the bar counter with the full tankards. All was explained just after the Night Mail drew to a halt. It disgorged a crowd of the sorting staff from ever carriage who en masse hurried into the buffet and within half a minute or so the counter was no longer covered with beer glasses. All the beer was very rapidly disappearing down the throats of all the sorters, anxious to get a few pints rack down during the train's few minute's stop in the Border City. The crowd of imbibers overflowed the buffet onto the platform by the train. A Railway Porter came past them wheeling a big loaded trolley and was clearly very familiar with many of the faces he saw, for cordial greetings were exchanged. He greeted one older Sorter particularly warmly: " 'Ello 'Arry, 'owyerdoin' !" in broad Carlisle accent (which is a curious mongrel mixture of northern English and Lowland Scots' Harry responded in equally broad London Cockney " Well, yunnow ow it is, Fred: Up and Down.....Up and Down " followed by a wink and another puff on his fag and another enormous glug of beer from his tankard. Enacted on a dark and otherwise empty station platform wreathed in steam and grime from the waiting big locomotive It was with hindsight all like a masterful scene from a JB and it was a salutary early lesson for young me about the rich and subtle comedy capable of being generated by even the most ordinary and humble groups of workers. Sent from my iPad > On 28 Jul 2015, at 01:36, P <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > > All kinds of interesting language are disappearing in the great homogenisation. > My dad told me that when he was in London in WWI they used to kid the drivers, when they would say something like "Next stop 'ampstead." Dad would say "Didn't you drop something there?" The reply would be "That's alright. I'll pick it up at Hoxford." > PM > >> On 27 Jul 2015 4:16 pm, Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >> >> Hi David Hi Peter >> >> Were all migrants here mate you heard a diversity of patois in my childhood. In 1966 we went to dollars and cents from pounds shillings and pence. In fact at school I learnt to do the necessary arithmetic in the old money ( if I buy a shirt for two pounds ten shillings and sixpence and a tie for eleven shillings how much change will I get out of five pounds etc etc) the change to a North American currency style made life much easier but we lost contact with such lovely sayings as "not worth a two bob watch" and I have to go to spend a penny". We never took on those engaging English slang terms for money like monkey or pony however. Progress I guess. >> >> Cheers >> >> P >> >> >> -----Original Message----- >> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of P >> Sent: Tuesday, 28 July 2015 5:11 AM >> To: [log in to unmask] >> Subject: Re: Northern English phrase >> >> Well if it comes from an oral background, & one's own background is literate, then the speaker could be right next door & one might never hear it. >> >> My thank to Peter Dillane for the elucidation from down under. >> >> The phrase 'It isn' t worth shit. ' comes to mind. That may be a North Aremican phrase. >> >>> On 27 Jul 2015 9:42 am, David Boyd <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >>> >>> You seem to be substantially accurate, Peter >>> >>> Here is an example from, believe it or not, a tiny village just a few miles from where I live:- >>> >>> >>> https://mobile.twitter.com/danmatthews/status/550788059105857539 >>> >>> >>> I've often heard 'sound as a pound' to describe someone favourably, but never this, which seems hyperbolically to spell out the converse. >>> >>> I must have lived the last 60 years in a sheltered existence! >>> >>> Good on you though, that the saying got identified >>> >>> >>> Sent https://mobile.twitter.com/danmatthews/status/550788059105857539from my iPad >>> >>>> On 27 Jul 2015, at 16:43, Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >>>> >>>> Hey peter the expression is that a person is "nowt a pound and shit's tuppence" I think. I took it to mean relative values but it is clearly more complex than I superficially understood as if shit is tuppence you could still be doing alright although not the full quid. >>>> >>>> What's the Geordie hymn? Yes "fook him" ok I'll go quietly now >>>> >>>> Cheers Pete >>>> >>>> Sent from my iPhone >>>> >>>>> On 27 Jul 2015, at 6:14 pm, P <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >>>>> >>>>> reply.