This article is from a series entitled: Things ye cannae bate wae a big stick
Fae tha han o a low country lad
‘Noo they taak aboot’ the mysterious far east, by which I mean Japan ‘no’ Ballyhalbert, and their time honoured rituals. But let me tell you after watching ‘yin o’ them Japanese ‘tay’ ceremonies on the television, I came to the conclusion that an Ulster man would ‘dee ‘o drooth’ before the cup ever reached his ‘mooth’. Whoever said ‘Thur's mony's a slip twixt cup and lip’ never had to wait ‘twarthry oor’s’ sitting on their hunkers.
All ‘thon’ rigmaroll did get me thinking however, ‘wae micth nae hae’ the cushions and kimonos but the Ulster-Scots ‘hae a quare tay’ ceremony of their own with a whole set ‘o’ wur ain’ paraphernalia.
Firstly whether your using a designer kettle or an ‘oul’ blacked can, you need to have the water ‘plumpin’. Plumpin water cannot really be achieved with a modern kettle. ‘If yer no a wee bit feart o’ gettin japped wae a drap o scaldin watter, its no plumpin’. Next place the tay into the pot, for the sake o brevity I’m not getting into the whole loose verse bags debate in this article, just don’t forget, ‘yin fir tha pot’. ‘Noo teem tha watter iver tha tap an lee it tae stew’.
Once the brew has reached its desired density its time to ask the other drinkers if they would like to receive third degree burns, or at least that what it sounds like to those not familiar with the concept of ‘taakin a wee drap in thur han’.
Lastly we must consider the milk, ‘I niver boather’ with sugar. ‘Ma mither a tould mae I wus sweet enugh’. The quantity of the milk falls basically into three categories: a wee toaty taste, a brave taste or nane. Of course there are those who’ tak a drap o cowl watter’. But what ‘iver wae ye tak it’, enjoy ‘yer tay’!
Until next time’ ‘Lang may yer lum reek an yer spicket dribble’.
PS. After submitting this article I realised that I had failed to address the ancient ritual o slooterin' fae a saucer, a weel thurs a next time.
I decided a ‘wheen’ of months ago that I was now the ‘aul dug fir tha hard road’, in fact ‘I cannae mine’ when I was ‘tha pup fir tha pad’. Experience however does teach us twarthy things. ‘Amang’ these realisations is that many of ‘tha aul sayins’ you heard as a ‘wain’ are actually astute observations, delivered with the dry wit and brevity which are the defining characteristics of the ulster-scots language. Hindsight teaches us ‘monnies a guid lesson’. Like the fact that most problems do indeed have a way of working themselves out. A sentiment that I often heard expressed in my childhood as ‘its a lang loanin wae nae turnin’.
Fireside philosophy was a integral part of most evenings at hame. Complex concepts and sage advice where proffered on a wide range of topics. Of course they were couched in old proverbs and pared by the ‘hamely’ tongue. Nonetheless themes such as the inevitability of human frailty, the fact that as you get older, everyone no matter how important, needs a ‘han’ were summed up in succinct old ulster-scots sayings such as, ‘tha king aa cums tha cadgers road’. A cadger of course is a beggar or traveling itinerant.
I leave you however with an ulster-scots translation of a concept which modern spiritual movements have sough to understand and explain for decades, the theory of karma or cosmic justice, the unseen universal force that ensures all wrong doers eventually receive their comeuppance. Or as my Granda used to say to me ‘Aye... lang rins tha hare’. Lets face it you can’t pare down a metaphysical concept much further. If you ‘hae oany aul wurds ir sayins’ which you would like to share with me please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org