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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Saturday Rave: George Bernard Shaw And The Drippings, by Herbert Ward.

Last week I wrote about an ungrammatical but heartfelt and glorious epitaph in a Hertfordshire churchyard.

This week I'm still in Hertfordshire, but I'm at Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence, the home of the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw.

The house is open to the public, and you can even see GBS's Oscar, which he won for the screenplay of Pygmalion.

GBS was a great writer, but today it's not actually his writing I'm interested in, but the man himself. Another Oscar, Oscar Wilde, said He [Bernard Shaw] hasn't an enemy in the world, and none of his friends like him.

Of the justice of that I can't judge, but my father's father was the village policeman at the next village to Ayot St Lawrence, and would take over the Ayot St Lawrence beat when the regular policeman was on holiday.

And what did Grandad think of GBS?

He wouldn't give you he drippings, he'd say. (In those days a policeman would expect an occasional pheasant or something similar as a token of appreciation - but nothing was ever forthcoming from GBS.)

My grandad wasn't much of a talker, but that expression still delights me. 

What exactly did he mean?

The end of the expression, though never articulated, was off his nose.


Word To Use Today: drip. This word has hardly changed in a thousand years. The Old English form was dryppan.

PS When I visited Shaw's Corner myself I told the story of GBS's drippings to one of the stewards, who told me in turn that an old man who had once been GBS's telegraph boy had visited the house a few days before, still outraged at never ever having been given a tip. 

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