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  • CVID
    • #2
    • 25th Apr 07, 10:47 AM
    • #2
    • 25th Apr 07, 10:47 AM
    I think he's the mean git into borrowing grey mares and pushing off to Widdecombe fair. Still, that's money saving for you.
    • margaretclare
    • By margaretclare 25th Apr 07, 12:56 PM
    • 10,194 Posts
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    margaretclare
    • #3
    • 25th Apr 07, 12:56 PM
    Who is Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all?
    • #3
    • 25th Apr 07, 12:56 PM
    This refers to an old English folk song from the West Country.

    'Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me thy grey mare
    For I be a-going to Widdecombe Fair....'

    Then follows a long list of names of people who were also going to the fair: 'Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Dan'l Whiddon, Harry Hawk, old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all, and all/Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all'.

    The song is called 'Widdecombe Fair' and is about Widdecombe-on-the-Moor, Dartmoor. Here's a good description: http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/widde_fair.htm

    I think, in the context of Martin's enquiry, it refers to someone who has asked around, asked absolutely everybody, with little or no result.

    A couple of generations ago any schoolchild could have told you this. I don't come from Devon but I recall singing this song at school in Yorkshire. It's just part of our native English culture. Like many of the colourful phrases from the King James Bible, it was just part of normal vocabularly used when someone wanted to emphasise something quite strongly.

    Margaret
    r ic wisdom funde, r wear ic eald.
    Before I found wisdom, I became old.
  • PoshPaws
    • #4
    • 27th Apr 07, 6:39 AM
    • #4
    • 27th Apr 07, 6:39 AM
    Oh well, thanks for that Martin - now I feel really really OLD!! *SNORT*
    I'm very well, considering the state I'm in.
    Weight loss since 2 March 10 : 13lbs
    • margaretclare
    • By margaretclare 27th Apr 07, 9:19 AM
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    margaretclare
    • #5
    • 27th Apr 07, 9:19 AM
    • #5
    • 27th Apr 07, 9:19 AM
    Oh well, thanks for that Martin - now I feel really really OLD!!
    Originally posted by PoshPaws
    I can't see why that makes you feel 'really old'. Like I said, this is part of traditional English culture. The English language is full of colourful words and phrases used to express something more vividly. Often this phraseology has been passed down the generations, even when the original meaning has been lost. Like 'better to be hung for a sheep than a lamb' - still in use, relates to the time when stealing really was a capital crime. There are endless others.

    This is an example taken from a folk-song, others came from the Bible that we were all brought up on, others were just local expressions. This particular one certainly has no connection with Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel that Martin thought of.

    Our culture is precious and is worth preserving.

    Margaret
    r ic wisdom funde, r wear ic eald.
    Before I found wisdom, I became old.
  • PoshPaws
    • #6
    • 27th Apr 07, 3:31 PM
    • #6
    • 27th Apr 07, 3:31 PM
    Well that's me told, then.

    Margaret, I completely agree. ~nods sagely~

    Forgive my paltry attempt at humour - I was merely making a comment upon how Martin (who I accept is younger than me) was young enough to have escaped gaining an understanding of Uncle Tom Cobleigh.

    I probably didn't need to explain that, either ... so I'll go away and be quiet now.
    I'm very well, considering the state I'm in.
    Weight loss since 2 March 10 : 13lbs
    • nearlyrich
    • By nearlyrich 27th Apr 07, 3:40 PM
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    nearlyrich
    • #7
    • 27th Apr 07, 3:40 PM
    • #7
    • 27th Apr 07, 3:40 PM
    I can remember learning that folk song at school in the late 60's, it was probably on "singing together " on the radio. The youth of today have never listened to a 6 foot radio LOL they don't know what they have missed.
    Last edited by nearlyrich; 27-04-2007 at 3:49 PM.
    Free impartial debt advice from: National Debtline or Stepchange[/CENTER]
    • margaretclare
    • By margaretclare 27th Apr 07, 5:22 PM
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    margaretclare
    • #8
    • 27th Apr 07, 5:22 PM
    • #8
    • 27th Apr 07, 5:22 PM
    Sorry, PoshPaws

    I have slightly more serious concerns, and the fact that Martin hadn't heard of this old folk-song is just symptomatic. It's also fairly significant that he immediately thought of the 'Uncle Tom' in the anti-slavery novel of the 1860s, which I wouldn't have expected many people to have read nowadays. It's all about our native culture is getting 'lost', diluted if you like, and we're now more likely to be familiar with foreign expressions than any of our own. Of course, the man who contacted Martin could have used expressions like 'the world and his wife' or 'the world and his dog' which would have perhaps been more instantly recognisable - I heard 'the world and his wife' used on BBC Radio 4 PM programme this evening.

    For myself, I love all those colourful expressive English sayings. No matter if the origins have been lost in time - the meaning is usually clear from the context. Our language will be the poorer if we try to replace them all with text-speak, rap-words and the like.

    Margaret
    r ic wisdom funde, r wear ic eald.
    Before I found wisdom, I became old.
    • gentlepurr
    • By gentlepurr 27th Apr 07, 10:04 PM
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    gentlepurr
    • #9
    • 27th Apr 07, 10:04 PM
    • #9
    • 27th Apr 07, 10:04 PM
    blimey! i thought every man, jack and his dog had heard of uncle tom cobleigh. never lived in devon, but had the widdecombe fair mug when i was little. sobbed my heart out when it got broke . major part of the learning curve in my life, that was, lol!

    xx
    "It is not uncommon for slight acquaintances to get married, but a couple really have to know each other to get divorced." - Anonymous
  • alfiesgirl
    Binge drinking at it's worst!!!!
    • chirpchirp
    • By chirpchirp 16th Feb 10, 11:14 PM
    • 1,937 Posts
    • 3,822 Thanks
    chirpchirp
    I'm younger than Martin and I'd heard of the song. When I was a kid my Dad taught it to me because I found it in an old book and asked if he knew the tune. Shortly afterwards he took me to Devon and I found out where Widdecombe is. When I got married and went to Devon I was surprised that my husband hadn't heard of it. Now I realise that my kids won't know of it and neither will the kids I teach. I think I can devise a lesson around Widdecombe Fair!
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