Rustic Words of Wisdom; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

Article excerpt

QUESTION

What is the significance of the old Suffolk saying 'ask the men who make the hay'?

GEORGE Ewart Evans's (1909-88) book, Ask The Fellows Who Cut The Hay (published by Faber and Faber) first appeared in 1956.

It records the old conversations, dialect, working practices and folklore of the people of Blaxhall, a remote Suffolk village, some 12 miles north-east of Ipswich.

Compiled from articles originally written for The Countryman and Village magazines, the book's title is attributed to the American poet Ezra Pound's (1885-1972) translation of Ancient Chinese writings in The Decade of Sheng Min: '...my colleagues, I bring you an idea. You smirk It's in the line of duty.

Wipe off that smile, and As our grandfathers used to say: Ask the fellows who cut the hay.' Clearly, doubt is cast on its Suffolk origins. Yet regardless of provenance, the saying signifies a simple truth. There is nothing as stupid as an educated person who lacks common sense: a limited education doesn't signify ignorance.

Leslie S. Stout, Eskdale, Cumbria.

QUESTION

If all the handcuffs in the world formed a daisy chain, how long would it be?

HANDCUFFS have been produced all this century. There are, and have been, hundreds of different manufacturing companies in countries all over the world making these items, so an exact figure is impossible.

However, if we were to use the figure for handcuffs carried by police officers we can make a good estimate. There are just over five million police officers in the world (according to UN figures).

Almost all these officers carry, or have access to, a pair of handcuffs, so taking the average width of a pair of handcuffs at 20cm, this works out at a distance of 1,000 kilometres if they were laid end to end.

Joining them up, daisy chain-style, would shorten the overall length by about 2cm per pair so the final length of our handcuff chain would be 562 miles (900 kilometres), enough to stretch from London to Aberdeen.

Paul King, London.

QUESTION

Can you still catch the train to Chattanooga from Track 29 at Pennsylvania Station?

THE Chattanooga Choo Choo and Track 29 at New York's Penn- sylvania Station became internationally famous when they were serenaded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1941 (Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?).

The first Chattanooga Choo Choo, a passenger train, left Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 5, 1880.

Operated by the Cincinnati Southern Railroad, it was the first to offer through-passenger service to the Deep South. …