One of the topics my students most liked to talk, and then with a little encouragement, write about, are modern myths, local folk stories, and some old wives tales… There are some which seem nation-wide, some which are really local… Just down our road there’s a story that a garage door is buried in one of the gardens of one of the houses, by the builders who were working on this estate. Another very old myth, that I think may have a gem of truth is that St Patrick was kidnapped not from the hills of Wales, but from the hill in our village… everyone round here knows he was born in Banwell, just five miles along the hills from here…
I came across an interesting article on the BBC site, about stories which circulate and yet are absolutely baseless; here is a selection from the article:
- Sirloin steak – the name comes from Sir Loin, a cut of meat which was knighted by a king, possibly Charles II, Elizabeth I and James I. The word was originally surloyn or surloine, probably from the French sur longe meaning above or over the loin.
- Diggers and other big machinery have been buried under London and other major cities – this is similar to the garage story down our road, and when I lived in Oldham on a new estate it was supposed to be and old car under one of the gardens. In London and other big cities where basements, cellars and other underground areas are being excavated for use, rumour has it that for the builders it’s cheaper to just leave their diggers buried because it’s too difficlt to get them out… which obviously is nonsense! Why leave an expensive machine buried? Why take up some of the room you’ve just excavated to bury a big something?
- Dog-nappers leave stickers on car tyres outside pets’ homes: apparently thieves were leaving little red and yellow stickers on the car-tyres of houses which had pets potentially worth stealing… in fact the stickers were put on by the garage after a tyre change but hadn’t been noticed before the rumour started spreading (a bit like the myth that a white feather means a dead loved-one is near in fact they’re everywhere, you just don’t notice till you look for them!)
- … and similarly dog-nappers leave sprayed or chalked marks outside homes – you’ll see these symbols everywhere once you look, in fact they are used by gas, electricity, water, cable or telecoms businesses to show what’s below the pavement or road which may be disturbed by excavation for a new road or other purpose.
Here is the article with other interesting stories: