Three wise Yorkshire monkeys

Hear all, see all, say nowt

Eat all, sup all, pay nowt

And if ever tha does owt for nowt

Do it for thissen

Spellings may vary, but this is a well-known Yorkshire saying which basically suggests that one shouldn’t spend one’s money unnecessarily.

Yorkshire people have a reputation for being somewhat mean careful with their money.

I’d never heard this as a kid, and when I went to university I was rather surprised when people told me this.

Everyone I knew was always generous. You bought drinks in the pub when it was your round. If you threw a party, you provided food and drink. If people turned up uninvited you always offered them something. Or a bed for the night. There was always ‘seconds’ of food. My mother would have died rather than having people think she hadn’t cooked sufficient amounts.

I was always brought up with the concept that you paid your way and it was better to overpay than underpay. And any guests were offered unreserved hospitality.

So where did this strange rumour come from? I thought Scottish people and Welsh people were meant to be niggardly persons (my Welsh mother-in-law certainly is), but us Yorkshire people, we have hearts of gold. Or maybe, we have with each other.

I knew the saying of course. Along with learning to sing On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At. It’s part of the culture of growing up in Yorkshire.

Wiki has some interesting info. I never knew that Tyke was a derogatory word with respect to a Yorkshire person and was surprised to hear it being referred to non-Yorkies. It is our word and shouldn’t be appropriated for other usage.

And, it’s also used for the language, as in ‘Does tha speak Tyke?’ I had a great book some time ago by the rather obnoxious Austin Mitchell (opinionated Yorkshire journalist – that’s actually tautological because all Yorkshire people are opinionated), called, Teach Thissen Tyke.

We have ginnels whereas other people have alleyways or passages. Apparently Lancastrians also have ginnels, but we won’t get into that because Yorkshire and Lancashire have always been in a permanent state of war ever since the War of The Roses (late 1400s). Which makes Spain rattling sabres against Gib for a mere 300 years pretty farcical. A ginnel is also a snicket.

God’s Own County. Not that I believe in God, but as that really means the best place in the world, I have to agree with it. People from Yorkshire are obnoxiously boring with their pride about coming from Yorkshire. I grew up with that culture and that view, and once there, you don’t get rid of it.

We were the biggest county in the country. Divided into thirds (Ridings), even our largest riding (the West Riding – nearly two million acres) was bigger than any other county. We had everything – scenery, hills, dales, coastline, industry, agriculture, heritage, beautiful cities and wonderful architecture.

Our own food. Yorkshire pudding is the most famous. I have never eaten it in those silly little small versions, it was always made in a large tin (the Yorkshire pudding tin no less) and served with gravy before our main course. I liked it best with currants in. My dad grew up with blackberries added too but my mother drew the line at that.

Curd tart (more currants). We usually bought this on our summer holidays in Bridlington from Mr Somebody or other who did the best curd tart ever.

There have been numerous calls for Yorkshire Home Rule. To be viable, home rule needs to be economically productive. Back when I was a kid, it was. Steel, coal, agriculture, mills, fishing.

Earlier this century there was a BBC poll about home rule for Yorkshire. Sixty per cent of people voted in favour, and York was the favoured base for the assembly. Yorkshire had three ridings, each riding had a capital – Wakefield for the West Riding, Beverley for the East Riding, and Northallerton for the North Riding. None of these historical riding capitals were included in the options. Silly poll by people who didn’t respect our Yorkshire history.

York was not part of any Riding, but was the capital city of Yorkshire and a county borough in its own right.

Ridings (ie thryddings or thirdings) were abolished in 1974. Much to the disgust of those of us who were brought up with them. I continued to address mail to my parents in the WEST RIDING for many years afterwards.

So there we have it. Threes in abundance.

Three pictures of monkeys at the top. In a triptych.

The Yorkshire saying, which goes in threes, and presumably based on the three wise monkeys – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

And our Ridings – all three of them.

To round up. Three thanks.

1) Andrew, for suggesting Three Wise Monkeys without realising what he would spark off

2) Vicky, for being a great internet mate, and without doubt a very generous Tyke

3) Sandra, another Tyke, who has a place in Spain, comes from the East Riding and recently offered to send me her book to review on my blog (it will be on roughseas).

(for those of you who read Clouds, I was dying to call this riding, riding, riding!)

Oh and threes, I need to link back to pesky WordPress here. (Hey, who cares!)


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