Strange Tales

I have now established the origin of one more of my mother’s weird sayings – I had already decided that her ‘He’d complain if his behind was alight’ – a circumstance which, I always thought, would certainly be a legitimate cause for complaint in the most balanced individual must have been a shortening of the phrase ‘he’s the sort of man who’d sit on the fire and then complain that his behind was alight’ which makes sense…and that found that ‘in and out like a dog at a fair’ is a genuine idiom.

Now, by sheer serendipity I discovered that the little verse she used to say: ‘Hide me, cherry tree, hide me, for fear the old witch should find me, for if she do she’ll break my bones and bury me under the marble stones’ – is from a genuine London folk tale, apparently, a little known variant of Mother Holle which I came across in London Folk Tales by Helen East, published by The History Press and a very nice collection it is.

Now if anyone can speculate on the origin of this strange phrase, muttered on seeing a long haired man, of whom, in the seventies, there were many: “Head of hair, will you marry me daughter?” I would be a happy bunny. The rythm sounds Irish – even Gaelic… but… I don’t know.

Now if only I could



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