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170812.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 6:45 am Reply with quote

How do you know when you're old? How does it change your behaviour?

I saw a letter in the local paper wreitten by an old man who wanted to know about old people ettiquette. Apparently, old men who don't know each other can't speak to each other unless they are both wearing a flat cap. (maybe this is just a northern thing)

I have seen this in action. I saw a man riding a mobility scooter (wearing a flat cap) riding past a similarly behatted gentle man waiting at a bus. They didn't seem to know each other but both exchanged a friendly 'Ow do', almost as a matter of principle.

Does anyone else know of any weird habits and codes of behaviour that seem to make sense only when you reach a certain age?

170896.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:14 am Reply with quote


170912.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:51 am Reply with quote

I'm not sure that the hat thing is age related at all. I think it may be an expression of simple hat camaraderie in an infrequently be-hatted world. I have been accused (often) of premature fogey-ism, but I am nonetheless tolerably youthful, and often, when sporting a titfer, find myself greeting strangers with a cheery tip of the headgear if their own bonce is similarly covered. I haven't actually owned a flat cap that fitted since I was about 9, and believe firmly that the lands north of the Watford gap are roamed by trolls and dragons, so I don't think it it can geographically or hat specific either. Just a universal brotherhood of chaps in proper hats.

Wear a hat for world peace.

King of Quok
170917.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:59 am Reply with quote

I got all excited as I thought the thread was going to be about elder trees.

170986.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:27 pm Reply with quote

There's nothing to stop you turning it into one, KoQ :-)

170997.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:46 pm Reply with quote

So this can be a thread about all things elder? Even Pliny? :)

171000.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:49 pm Reply with quote

Especially Pliny...

171001.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:53 pm Reply with quote

How about Pitt the Elder?

171002.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:58 pm Reply with quote

How about:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder;
Cato the Elder;
Lucas Cranach the Elder:
Hans Holbein the Elder?

171022.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:15 pm Reply with quote

I think we've determined any Elder will do.

King of Quok
171029.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:43 pm Reply with quote

I give you...


There is only one major species of elder in the UK, Sambucus nigra, although the Scandanavian red elder, Sambucus racemosa has become naturalized in Scotland. The elder is one of the first trees to leaf during the year; it can begin as early as late winter in a mild year. Its English name is from the Old English ellern meaning 'hollow tree'. The Latin generic name for elder, Sambucus, comes directly from the Latin name for the tree 'sambucus', which might possibly be connected with 'sambuca', a type of harp, though I'm not sure it has anything to do with the anise-flavoured liqueur. Though the berries are famous for making wines and jams, the flowers too can be used in pies and produce a slight musky taste, and the old white wood is used for wooden combs and chesspieces. The thick, spongy bark is a favourite for badgers to scrape their claws clean, and is the preferred habitat of jew's ear fungus. It is the only tree distasteful to rabbits, which means it will often thrive by warrens, benefitting from all the nitrogen in the rabbit poo. In Love's Labours' Lost, Shakespeare refers to Judas being hung on an elder tree (though I think this is contradicted in othe versions of Judas' history), and in the Norse Creation myth, the first woman, Embla, was, literally an elder in all senses of the word, being the mother of mankind, and, carved out of an elder tree by Odin, Vili and Ve. Elderberry wine is used to bump off the lodgers in the farce Arsenic and Old Lace, and the musky smell of elderberries was used as an insult by the French sentinel in Monty Python and the Holly Grail ('ta mere etait hamster, et ton pere sentait de baies de sureau', I think would be the translation).

gerontius grumpus
171032.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:05 pm Reply with quote

It will soon be the time of year for making that delicious summer drink, elderflower champagne.

171035.  Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:26 pm Reply with quote

"Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"

171117.  Tue May 01, 2007 5:03 am Reply with quote

That elder tree stuff's fascinating. :)

Ta for that.

171122.  Tue May 01, 2007 5:23 am Reply with quote

King of Quok wrote:
In Love's Labours' Lost, Shakespeare refers to Judas being hung on an elder tree (though I think this is contradicted in othe versions of Judas' history)

I've certainly always heard it specified as an elder (when I've heard it specified at all); I've certainly never heard anything specifically different. The Judas/Elder connection crops up, as well as in Shakespeare, so Brewer's assures me, in Sir John Mandeville's Travels, and Piers Plowman.

Ooh, it said "see also fig tree" at the bottom of the entry for Elder, so I've done that, and "it is said" that Judas hanged himself from one of those, as well. No references this time, though, so I've no idea by whom this is said, or why they should say it.

Oh, and my friendly neighbourhood OED reckons that the foul drink is indeed named for the tree. Sambuca, that is.

Last edited by 96aelw on Sat May 19, 2007 5:10 am; edited 1 time in total


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