”There is nowt as queer as folk”
It is an old addage, originating from the north of England, that pretty much sums up people.
We are a strange lot and no mistake, we evolved from apes millions of years ago… and yet we are still monkeying around to this very day!
My family background is a strange one to say the least, as I soon realised while researching my debut book. One half Irish, the other half English and whatever is left over`s Scottish?
I know this doesn`t add up, and yes I was always crap when it came to maths at school.
So you see, few could possibly be more qualified to write an article such as this than myself.
”If the cap fits, wear it”
Yet another witticism from northern England, and had the philosopher Socrates been born in the area I´m sure he would have been even wiser still.
Alas I´m afraid he missed out on this key element in his illustrious life. And even if he is, to this day, reverred by academics as the fountain of all knowledge which I´m sure he was. To the less sophisticated such as myself, he was just another wise old Greek in saggy underpants.
But why are we so strange, I ask myself? Is it individualism, the need to stand out from the crowd, or could it be something else? Genetics? Or is there a strange alien chromosome in our DNA struggling to come to terms with life on Earth?
Now I have never submitted my DNA for analysis, the mere thought of somebody poking their cotton swab around in my mouth and removing the tasty remnants from my previous meal does not exactly endear me to the notion. You see after a good meal I can happily chew for hours on the bits that stick between my teeth and philosophise about life… just like I am now.
” Many a mickle makes a muckle”
A Scottish addage praising the virtues of the covetous.
Now the further north you travel it seems the wiser people become, so it`ll come as no surprise when I say the Scots are undoubtedly amongst the wisest in the British Isles. But wise as they may be, they are equally as strange as the rest of us.
The tightfisted Scot has down the ages been the butt of many a joke. Yes, they are what I would call careful with money, but of all the Scots that I have met I do sincerely believe they have had a raw deal.
I readily admit that I too am careful when it comes to money… whether that makes me tightfisted or just part Scottish is hard to say.
Nope, I have yet to meet a Scot who locked himself in the gents toilets whenever it was his turn to buy a round at the bar.
”Make haste slowly” A Welsh proverb
Now Wales is a beautiful country, its rugged landscape evokes images of a mystical past. On a sunny day I can think of few places on the planet where I would rather be. Sat on a hilltop watching the clouds rolling along the peaks of Mt. Snowdon. Or strolling along the beach when the tide is out, staring out across the Irish Sea and watching the oil tankers glide by.
It is indeed an idyllic land, where life trundles along at a leisurely pace and the sound of Welsh male choirs frightens pregnant sheep into premature labour.
They are a strange race the Welsh, but in a Celtic kind of way, if you follow my meaning. Fiercely proud of their heritage, it would take a brave Englishman to venture deep into southern Wales, and it be advisable, were that the case, he learned the Welsh language a.s.a.p. For in those parts it is English that is the foreign language, and like a parody of the TV series Little Britain, he would soon find himself being the only ”Brit in the village”.
”People are strange”, as Jim Morrison of The Doors once sang, but did you know Morrison is an Irish name?
“Well begun, is half done” An Irish proverb
The Irish are a strange lot, with a language and culture that dates back to God knows when.
The English and the Irish have always been reluctant bedfellows. Each as wary of the other breaking wind between the sheets of diplomacy and bringing an, at times, uneasy relationship to an end.
But for all the Irish jokes we churn out in England, nothing can prepare one for the reality. For the Irish are the funniest of folk, in possession of the most disarming wit imaginable.
If intoxication be the fountain of eternal knowledge, the Irish have it by the barrel load, don`t take my word for it – go there and pull yourself a pint of it.
Yes people are strange, and here in the UK I guess we are undoubtedly stranger than most. But on reflection, the biggest export The Empire gave the world was its culture… and not least its stranger than life customs.
So I guess ”Britannia still Rules the Waves”… in a queer sort of way.