Apologies ….. the black dog is out of his kennel again ….. 

I am not Norfolk – neither born nor bred; I actually hail from rural Buckinghamshire although I am one quarter (a very important part to me) Yorkshire with a touch of cockney. I have only lived in this county for just under 20 years so I am still “new”; an incomer and “not proper”. I do however feel at home here and have done ever since I arrived and relatively recently somebody paid me the compliment of assuming I’d lived here all my life. I live in a small but interesting village that is stuffed with history. Now Brampton is one of the smallest villages in Norfolk but in roman times it was a busy and bustling industrial centre and its produce, archaeologists know for certain, was exported from the area by boat on the Bure. The romans therefore saw and used the Bure as a means of transport long before the Navigation and presumably earlier man had also used it as did his later counterparts.It was, of course, a very different river in roman times. 

This is how archaeologists think Brampton looked in roman times

One of the things about village life is the eclectic mix of people. There are amongst the older members of the community a fair percentage that are true Norfolk and here genuine remnants of the dialect can be found. The wherrymen were all locals to the Broads in Norfolk and Suffolk and would have had strong dialect. Norfolk dialect in particular is slow, laconic and thought provoking. Some of its origins though interest me as there are some aspects of it that remind me of Yorkshire and the dialect I remember from my grandfather who came from the Bronte village of Howarth and whom I loved dearly even though he had a back story that would fill a 1,000 page novel (and perhaps will one day). True Norfolk people are often very thoughtful and slow to respond, this does not indicate aloofness or worse, it is instead a good trait in that whilst they may be of few words what they do say is considered and worth listening to. Norfolk, like Yorkshire and other working dialects can be economic in the use of words but rich in their terminology and expressiveness. The similarities are only presumed and not academically researched but words like lug (ear), lummox (clumsy person, I’ve been called it more than once) and barney (quarrel) seem to feature in more than one dialect. Squit is more Norfolk although even that I do not think is entirely unique. It is not rhyming slang but means nonsense and the very Norfolk Bishi-barni-bee is probably unique meaning Ladybird. Occard for awkward (something else I’ve been called) is more widespread than just this county but you know it doesn’t really matter. The various english dialects are rich and each is a source of words that spread further afield and we should respect them as we would be a poorer country with a diminished language if we didn’t have dialects. 

I have spoken before in these blogs about my occasional black dog as Churchill used to call it. What tends to start it off most at the moment is thoughts of retirement, pensions and fairness. What follows is brief but unapolegetically political (with a small p). I promise this will get it out of my system (on here anyway) 

There is currently some squit about pensions and it gets my goat. I am from a generation that has been considerably attacked by recent changes to pension arrangements. For most of my working life I thought I could retire from public service at 60 and get my old age pension at 65. The “missus” on the other hand thought until relatively recently that she was going to be able to retire at age 60 and then draw her old age pension. She too will have to go until she is 68 – a theft of 8 years. I can still go at 60 (which is just around the corner) but will then have to survive for 8 years on a pittance. All the talk of gold plated public service pensions really makes me mad as I do get a 50% pension based on my final salary but 50% of beggar all is beggar all. All my working life I have been told and foolishly believed that I was being paid less than market rates in return for my pension but now we are told it cannot be afforded even though it is a pay as you go scheme that does afford itself. At the same time there is real and correct concern about youth unemployment. I may have to work beyond 60 and my wife certainly will so how does that help youth unemployment; it blocks jobs with people who are paid slightly higher than the young would be and perpetuates the unemployment trap amongst the younger members of society. Personally I am better off than those 10 years younger as they will have to pay more to draw less and work longer – it’s a real “rum do”. I will need to find a job to tide me over to age 68 so if you’ve got any ideas please let me know? 

I used to dream that when the time came to retire I’d buy a boat and explore every corner of the Broads network and even wider afield (sometimes even to Aylsham) – sadly that’s a dream which is now unlikely to be fulfilled but I am better off than the workers of old like the wherrymen and dydlers that kept the Navigation going through all those years. They did not have the safety net of a pension or the NHS. Generations, remembering how bad some aspects of life once were, determined to improve things for themselves and their childrens children (my generation). They fought many long hard political and industrial battles to achieve what we now take for granted and indeed may be about to throw away. Despite two world wars and a few bumps in the road we did establish a state that cared for its citizens but we are now starting the reverse process and I’m afraid for my grandson’s generation as they will inherit a different and probably much worse world. People need to stand up for what is right – that’s not a call to political arms but a statement of hope over the despair that I fear will envelop us. 

A picture of the wherryman John Henry courtesy of Michael Sparkes

I hear you say “hold y’r blaaren” – so I will, until the next time when I will be more steady. “Hold you hard” – don’t forget Coltishall on August 26th if the weather is good it will be “bootiful”. Herein lies another cause of that black dog rearing its head. I am an optimist normally and have been assuming that we will get a summer eventually and have faith that late August will be great but doubts are beginning to creep in so please pray to which ever is your god and if your culture allows dance away the rain in time for the “jollificearshuns” at Coltishall. We’ve “mardled” enough now so until the next time and before I “get wrong” “fare y’well” 

Next time some detailed info about how to get to Coltishall on August 26th and another few dark secrets.

Cradle Bridge as it used to be


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