Sunday, 27 January 2013


I write this in January - the month of bargains and sales. In keeping with this spirit I bring you not one but two phrases which are similar in meaning.

If I ever did something a little odd, my Grandma would often remark 'there's nowt so queer as folk'. Clearly it means that people can be very strange. 

The origins are unknown but no doubt the phrase comes from Yorkshire or Lancashire if the word 'nowt' (nothing) is anything to do with it. The oldest written reference to the phrase dates from 1905.

There was a British TV series in 1999 called 'Queer as folk' which was set in Manchester and was about three gay men though the original phrase uses 'queer' in its literal meaning as 'odd'. There was also an episode of John Sessions' tall tales called 'There's nowt so queer as folk' which was aired in 1991.

The second phrase is my favourite. I love the humour of it. It is

'All the world's queer save thee and me and even thee's a little queer'.

This time we're in luck as the origin is known to us. It is a quote by Robert Owen (1771-1858) a Welsh social reformer, factory owner and inventor.

Basically he was one of the first entrepreneurs and his greatest success was in the area of infant child care. He was probably motivated in this through the death in infancy of his first child, though he fortunately had seven further children who survived.

He fell out with his partners at one point and this remark was made to one of them, a William Allen in 1828. 

If ever a quotation told you reams about the good nature and character of a person this must surely be a fine example.

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