LONG before the curse of the politically correct, people were apt to be a bit more straightforward in their language.

And Worcestershire folk, being an eclectic mix of town and country, could hold court with some colourful phrases.

How often do you occasionally hear something today that takes you right back to your childhood?

Words that your grandparents used, but you’d not hear repeated now. 

RAKISH FIGURE: An old Worcestershire farmworker carries a wooden rake in the late 1800s – looks like he’d been put in a cage to be pecked at

RAKISH FIGURE: An old Worcestershire farmworker carries a wooden rake in the late 1800s – looks like he’d been put in a cage to be pecked at

Classics like (and this is a woman talking about a man): “There was  nothing there, nothing but trousers”.

Or “He seemed like a thing as was put in  a cage to be pecked at.”

Mind you, the men were just as observant: “A pig and a woman and a donkey be contrary things and a man can do nothing with um if we don’t let um have their own way.”

REVVED-UP: The boys are back in town. The arrival of the Triumph Baby Motorcycle in Worcester at Eric Williams garage in Pierpoint Street in the 1950s. A decade later, in the Sixties, it would have been called “really gear”. Street talk for

REVVED-UP: The boys are back in town. The arrival of the Triumph Baby Motorcycle in Worcester at Eric Williams garage in Pierpoint Street in the 1950s. A decade later, in the Sixties, it would have been called “really gear”. Street talk for

These and a few more gems come from an old book of sayings in our vaults, which is worth thumbing through as a reminder of the way things were.

Here’s another male’s eye view: “I never knowed but one businesswoman, an’ her husband hanged himself!”, while the female response could have been: “There was a lot in his face as was no good to anybody.”

 DOWNSTAIRS: Staff at a Worcestershire country house in the early 1900s, where no-one was expected to “piddle about” or work in an unhurried manner

DOWNSTAIRS: Staff at a Worcestershire country house in the early 1900s, where no-one was expected to “piddle about” or work in an unhurried manner

Some of the old sayings hit the nail right on the head.

For example: “They carries their chins in the air, though the mice be a-running their cupboards with tears in their eyes” (about people who give the pretence of wealth, but have run out of money).

Or “she’d carry a stone for seven years and then throw it at you” (about one who stores up ill-will).

APRONS ON: Village tradesmen in south Worcestershire in 1900, likely to have decided views on women in business

APRONS ON: Village tradesmen in south Worcestershire in 1900, likely to have decided views on women in business

Other pearls of wisdom include “if you’ve anything to say, keep your mouth shut” and “every crow thinks his feathers the blackest.”

Of course, predicting the weather always brought out the sages.

UPSTAIRS: A garden party at Croome Court in 1909. They carries their chins in the air

UPSTAIRS: A garden party at Croome Court in 1909. They carries their chins in the air

“If it rains on Good Friday and Easter Day, there’ll be plenty of grass but little good hay”, while from the south of the county comes “a mist around Broadway Tower, it’ll rain within the hour”.

 So if you want to go back to the era of TV series Upstairs, Downstairs, here are a few pointers:

• Allus is: all that remains. “The pot’s pretty nig empty but I’ll gi’ yu allus is”.

• Dither: Tremble – “The wind is that piercin’ I seem’d ter goo straight through ‘um. It made me all uv a dither”.

• Good shutt: Good riddance.

• Hommucks: Feet

• Noggin: Clumsy

• Purgy: Short tempered

• Shog off: Go away

• Shut ‘is knife: Died

• Watty-onded: Left-handed.

MARKET TALK: The Shambles, Worcester, in the 1950s would ring to the cries of the stall holders

MARKET TALK: The Shambles, Worcester, in the 1950s would ring to the cries of the stall holders