'Black over Bill's mother's'
Posted by R.Berg on May 18, 2002
In Reply to: Local English Sayings. 'Black over Bill's mother' posted by James Briggs on May 18, 2002
: : : : : : The link below is to a small site of 'Black Country' sayings.
The 'Black Country' is the old industrial heart of England. Some of the Sayings
I recognise as being used well outside that part of England. Do others use them
: : : : : : NB Please note lack of apostrophies!
: : : : : (West Virginia/Kentucky) The only one that is familiar to me is "Well, e's took 'is eggs to a fine market, ay 'e?" Only our version is "He drove his geese to a fine market." (Speaking sarcastically.) I think that's how it goes.
: : : : DRIVE ONE'S DUCKS TO A POOR MARKET -- To make a poor manager or to associate with the wrong people. Also to drive one's goose to a poor market. 'He's driving his goose to a poor market, Pa said.' (Jesse Stuart, (Kentucky writer) 'Plum Grove Hills') See also DROVE ONE'S DUCKS TO A PORE PUDDLE." From Mountain Range: A Dictionary of Expressions from Appalachia to the Ozarks by Robert Hendrickson, Facts on File, New York, 1997) And I've heard it said of someone marries an unsuitable person.
: : : I've heard "up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire" used down South, and "for two pins..." was I think very widespread. As for "lommock" meaning clumsy idiot, there's an apparent variation down in the South East, namely "lummox". There also seems to be a Scottish phrase (!) within that linked list, namely "mythering/mithering" to mean crying. I remember my mother, who is Scots, using that term during my childhood.
: Lummox is familiar in the U.S.
: : And here are some extra apostrophes. """""""/
: The reason I found this site was because someone asked me the origin of 'black over Bill's mother'. I'd never heard of this, and certainly have no idea who Bill or his mother are. Any ideas?
Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day says this phrase is esp. common in the East Midlands. He doesn't give an origin. He doesn't say where the East Midlands are, but presumably some of you know. Did the mother of Shakespeare or of any of the royal Williams live there?