Posted by Gary Martin on July 29, 2007
In Reply to: Cloth cap and whippets posted by David FG on July 28, 2007
: : : : What does "cloth cap and whippets" refer to? I understand that *cloth cap* refers to working class but what does *whippets* refer to and why?
: : : A whippet is a miniature breed of greyhound. Working-class men, who couldn't have afforded the upkeep of a full-size greyhound, used to breed and race them, so an interest in whippets is another working-class stereotype. (VSD)
: : Victoria is right, except that to call a whippet a "miniature" greyhound can be misleading. It was bred from terriers and small greyhounds in the 19th century for racing (chasing rabbits, actually), does indeed look rather like a small (but not miniature) greyhound. It was called "the poor man's racehorse," and people still race whippets. One can see them often in the U.S. on Animal Planet. It can reach speeds of up to 35 m.p.h. (the greyhound, with its longer legs, can hit 45 m.p.h.).
: : In my youth some friends had a Whippet automobile, a make which vanished long ago. : : SS
: : 'Cloth cap and whippets' refers not simply to 'working class' but Northern (English) working class - i.e. that group also associated (at least formerly) with heavy industry: mining, steel working and so on.
: Think DH Lawrence.
Here in Yorkshire cloth caps are still worn and on this Sunday morning I don't expect I'd have to travel very far to see whippets being raced. The cloth cap count seems especially high in Barnsley.