Monday, 22 December 2014

Spoaching and Basting

As a child, I used the verb "to spoach" all the time but over the years since then I've been unable to find anyone else who used it or any reference to it on the Interweb. I began to think it was just one of those words that families invented for themselves.
But no! Today I found a reference to it online and sure enough it turns out to be a word we shared with our Scottish neighbours and means what it always meant to me: "To pry, rummage or poke about (in)". As in "What are ye spoachin in that drawer for?"
It's a pity such a useful word seems to have been lost from our vocabulary.

It's been a good day for finding online references that back up my childhood memories. When I was a child schools would be closed on election day so that they could serve as polling stations. Those days were what we called Baster Day and we'd get our parents to make us what we called basters - rolled and folded newspapers tied with a length of string.
Then we'd go round in a gang and whenever we came across some other kids we'd demand to know how they were voting (ignoring the fact that anyone of that age had no vote). If they answered "Conservative" (or "Tory" or "Rent & Ratepayer", all the same thing), we'd give them a good whacking with our basters.
All good clean fun. Presumably there were some Conservative Basters around but I never suffered at their hands.
Anyway, this is one of those traditions that I can find no support for. No one I know remembers doing it and there's nothing on line about it. However, I did at least find a reference today for the word itself:
"baste (v)(tr)
1. To beat vigorously; thrash: basted the attacker with a club.
2. To scold; berate.
[Probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse beysta; ....]"


Anonymous said...

I'm 'landed' to discover that one of your strange childhood words have actually been written down. I'm really 'cwtsch' with that idea, 'cariad'.

Sheila Vaughan said...

Hey Harry, congrats on your recent marriage and thanks for bringing back nice memories of Lisbon for me. But I am really commenting because your story about "basters" made me laugh out loud. Yeah ! good on you lad! Happy days..

harry bell said...

Yes, Kevin, of course you are.

harry bell said...

Sorry for the delay in replying, Sheila. Times have been busy and I'm way behind in catching up.

Many thanks for your congratulations and I'm glad I made you laugh!