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Thoughtful Tuesdays: From Mind Your Language to Worlds Apart

By Eithne Cullen

Welcome to July’s Thoughtful Tuesday page. Over the last few months we’ve been looking at words and how we use them so, I started asking people about things they’d been told as children, by adults. This links beautifully into our new summer theme: ‘Worlds Apart’: bridging gaps of time, generation, geographies and expectations through words.

I had my own mother in mind when I started looking at this topic: she was a great one for sayings and left us (sometimes puzzled) with some gems. One of my favourites was used when she thought anyone was trying to get the better of her: “I’m not as green as I’m cabbage-looking.”

Here’s a little poem on the topic I wrote a long time ago about things grown-ups told me:

The Things They Told Me

The devil finds work for idle hands.
There are fairies under blackthorn trees –
babies under gooseberry bushes.
Chewing gum sticks your guts together.
Dentists look after your teeth.
Unicorns and dragons.
Cheats seldom prosper.
Santa Claus brings presents.
A fairy takes your tooth as a piano key.
Children should be seen…
and not heard!

© Eithne Cullen, 2019


Deputy Editor Claire Buss was able to come up with her own version, too.

What Mum (And Nan) Said

Don’t go outside with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold.
If you eat your crusts, your hair will go curly.
Don’t sit too close to the TV, you’ll get square eyes.
Careful if the wind changes, your face will stay like that (when pulling a face).
Fingers! (when eating something with your hands).
You’ll get splinters (when scratching your head).
If you swallow an apple pip, it will start growing in your tummy.
Don’t swallow your chewing gum, it’ll get stuck.
Blue and green aren’t meant to be seen.
No pudding until you eat your dinner.
Too much TV will rot your brain.
If you don’t try it, how do you know you don’t like it?
Also in answer to it’s not fair – there was a fairy called Nuff

© Claire Buss, 2022


Afsana Elanko has submitted this lovely collection of haikus based on her mother’s words and advice. She’s also sent this stunning image of a mother and child to go with it:

Haikus: My Mother Used To Say

Mum said sit up straight,
She meant face the world straight on,
I thought I am straight.

Grasping a drawing,
You can do better she said,
Painting set received.

Walking unsteady,
Hold on tight and move quickly,
She taught me to walk.

You can do anything,
Struggling to revise for exams,
She saw the talent first.

Somethings confuse us,
“Use an uneven number”,
But we still do it.

© Dr Afsana Elanko, 2022


Finally, I’m finishing with this lovely poem from Ange Wilson, where the words she uses catch the meaning and warmth of the poem. Thanks for sharing it, Ange.

More Than Words

This poem sings out loud
for all with or without strings
with crazy love and hope
it utters truth spilling, filling
the mind, the heart and air,
listen as it sways on the breeze,
feel it as it touches your cheek
savour it as it rests on your lips
without wanting, without demands
– this poem is calling you home.

© Ange Wilson, 2022


Until next month!


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My mother was a great one for sayings and left us (sometimes puzzled) with some gems: one of my favourites was used when she thought anyone was trying to get the better of her “I’m not as green as I’m cabbage looking.”