Imagine if someone highly untrustworthy were to give the excuse – just a hypothetical example here – of taking a trip to Barnard Castle for health purposes when in fact they went for a day out just for the fun of it at a time when such travel was not allowed. What possible term could cover such behaviour? Writing in the autumn of 2019, it’s hard to imagine any such thing happening, but if it did, we’d need a phrase to categorize it.
Step forward the great Eric Partridge, whose Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang has graced my bookshelves for many years (although the dust on top shows how long it is since I got it down!)
It turns out that there is a handy phrase for just such an event on page 50. “‘Come! come! that’s Barney Castle! … an expression often uttered when a person is heard making a bad excuse in a still worse cause’ ” – a quotation Partridge attributes to the Denham Tracts, a collection of writings published by a Yorkshire tradesman in the mid-19th century.
It’s hard to believe we’d ever need to reuse the phrase, but if we did, there it is, thanks to Eric Partridge. Don’t forget, you read it here first!
The first and only issue of The Link, ‘a journal for the twin towns of Maldon and Cuijk’, edited by Will Kemp in 1972.
By today’s standards this is not a sophisticated publication, but the pages were bashed out on an electric typewriter and taken to a printers in Witham that was capable of handling the half-tone imagery (of which there is not much!), making this an early instance of desktop publishing – sort of.
Click on the link (get it?!) to view the full publication as a PDF.
The article transcribed below dates from May 2 1996, when it appeared in the Braintree & Witham Times (more usually known as the Brainless and Witless, quite appropriately as will become clear).
The journalist whose by line it appears under, Eve Sweeting, may or may not be married to the music journalist Adam Sweeting. She ought to be though.
The article, about an Essex youth football club, is intrinsically humdrum, but it was livened up by someone’s injudicious use of a computer spellchecker. They clearly set it to run, perhaps accidentally, accepting all suggestions without checking for themselves to make sure the corrections were sane.
Unfortunately I didn’t save the following week’s paper, which contained a corrected version of the article, but I have managed to retrieve most of the original names that ended up being mangled by the spellchecker. They are: