View Full Version : Childhood 'old wives' tales

Baron Greenback
8th Nov 2001, 01:01
You know the sort of things:-

If you sit too near the telly it gives you X rays and melts your brain

If you unscrew your bellybutton your bum will drop off (My little brother actually had to go to Hospital after trying this)

and the ubiquitous

"If the wind changes your face will stay like that"

Any more for any more?


tony draper
8th Nov 2001, 01:25
My Nana, thats what you called your granmother on your mothers side in the N/E of England, used to shout at us when we were kids playing in the street, (Keep away from the grates,or you'll get the fever).
She was born at the back end of the nineteenth century so she probably remembered the typhoid outbreaks, or is that typhus?.
The only other strange one when I was a tadpole was (Don't stamp on a worm or you will make it rain).
There were still old timers on ships when I went to sea that would go crazy if you
whistled, they believed you would call up the wind. ;)

Bally Heck
8th Nov 2001, 01:37
"Bally!! If you don't stop that you'll go blind!"

"Bally!! No wonder you've got a spotty complexion!"

"Bally!! Stop it. your making the caravan shake!"


8th Nov 2001, 03:41
Don't swim just after you've eaten.

Rhubarb and soda for a baby with colic

Cabbage leaves for cracked nipples

Ginger for nausea

Sitting too close to the TV ruins your eyes

All men are b***tards (that one might be true, however!!)


Send Clowns
8th Nov 2001, 03:52
Min Ginger for stomache complaints is also true!

How about crack in pavements? Mostly spread by A A Milne, that bears would get you.

That starving children in Africa would like your sprouts. :D

That other children are better behaved than you are.

8th Nov 2001, 04:06
Actually, SC, so is the cabbage leaves!!! - althought it might be for mastitis...I can't remember at the moment...anyway...just in case you should ever need such a remedy.. :)


[ 08 November 2001: Message edited by: min ]

8th Nov 2001, 04:10
I wish I could think of everything in the one reply...

Oh well, nevermind..

Don't open an umbrella inside.

If you spill the salt, throw it over your left shoulder.

Always turn the teapot 3 times clockwise.


8th Nov 2001, 04:29
Cabbage leaves...? cabbage leaves???

That's one I'm just going to have to think about for a while...

And anytime I was told "There are millions of starving children in Africa who would like that", my immediate thought was "Well, they can have it - I'm being nice and generous" :D

tony draper
8th Nov 2001, 04:34
Oh yes another one I just remembered my Granny, thats your Grandmother on your fathers side, used to wrap a worn sock around your neck if you had a sore throat, and I remember her putting brown paper and vinegar on my brow when I had sunstroke once, that was in the days we used to get summers in England. ;)

8th Nov 2001, 05:22
Thought vinegar and brown paper was for fixing Jacks wot had fallen down 'ills . Well you live and learn ( unless you are a goldfish).

Mirkin About
8th Nov 2001, 05:32
If I picked my pet Guinea pig up by his tail his eyes would fall out :eek: . Tried it on my kids the other day at an animal nursery and all they did was :rolleyes: and go back to taunting the goat which in due course butted them so they did it again . Kids these days just don't get it .Cue pythonesque statements about when I were a Lad

8th Nov 2001, 08:54

My Nanna and Granny both rubbed butter on it.

If you walk down the "Blackie-Path" after dark the Bogie-man will get you. [He doesn't but its an interesting way to get a sex education ;)]

Playing with your willy makes it fall off. :eek:

Smoking stunts your growth [It doesn't. Its the masturbation that does that]

Putting manure in your shoes makes you grow taller. [It doesn't but it sure makes your feet smell!]

Eating the crusts makes your hair turn curly. :rolleyes:

If you get stung by nettles rubbing the rash with a Dock leaf cures it. [It just makes your leg turn green]

Through difficulties to the cinema

8th Nov 2001, 10:16
Eating carrots helps you find your willy in the dark and thereby makes you lose your hearing...

or something like that. It was a long time ago....pardon?

The Nr Fairy
8th Nov 2001, 15:33
If the ice cream van comes round and it's playing a tune, that means it's run out of ice cream.

One of my friends tells her daughter that !

8th Nov 2001, 15:38
My Gran told us kids that:"If you swallow chewing gum it'll wrap around your heart and kill you".
Lake Draper's Nan she also warned of "Fever" from grates(she was originally from that neck of the woods--Ashington).
She was also firmly of the opinion that the summers were longer/hotter before people had TV aerials on their chimneys. :confused:

8th Nov 2001, 15:55
You need to put a rag over the bath taps in a thunderstorm to prevent the house being hit by lightning. Similarly, you must cover up the mirrors during thunderstorms.

Black cats are another interesting old wives tale. In some parts, a black cat crossing your path brings good luck, while in others, bad luck.

If a cat catches and kills a robin, there will be a death in the family owning the cat.

I can't remember where I heard:

Leaving out a freshly killed rat, a freshly killed bat and a freshly killed frog will get rid of ghosts (not surprising!)

Chicken pox in children can be cured by letting them run underneath a donkey at the sea side.

tony draper
8th Nov 2001, 16:48
I remember my Nan used to give us a big spoonfull of malt when we stayed with her, yuck, bloody foul stuff, about the same consistency as axle grease, it was supposed to be a cure all.
Another nostrum she had for headaches upset stomaches ect, was Gregory Powders, god knows what was in that, probably 50% cocaine.
Wonder if you can still get them. ;)

henry crun
9th Nov 2001, 07:14
Don't eat the pips in apples, pears, etc, because they will lodge in your appendix and cause appendicitis.

Yes Mr D, malt was not exactly the tastiest stuff in the world but it was nectar compared with cod liver oil, yuck.

[ 09 November 2001: Message edited by: henry crun ]

Travelling Toolbox
9th Nov 2001, 07:42
For a child brought up in a cyclone prone environment - always leave the smallest window in the house open, presumably to "equallize" the pressure between inside and out to prevent the roof lifting off and flying away! Anyway, we never lost a roof in a good blow. :cool:

9th Nov 2001, 14:04
Mr D and Henry,

I had the worst of both worlds, cod liver oil and malt every day for years, used to make me retch - doncha luv health conscious parents :eek: :eek:

9th Nov 2001, 14:56
I was force-fed spoonfuls cod liver oil, malt extract and syrup of figs. Hated one but loved the other two.

Does anyone remember a book called Strewelpeter? It was full of cautionary tales for children accompanied by gruesome illustrations and was probably one of the most politically uncorrect publications ever (I hardly dare tell you about the Inky Boys and the Long-Legged Red-Legged Scissor Man). My Nan used to read it to me ad nauseam but my sisters absolutely forbade me from reading it to their kids.

tony draper
9th Nov 2001, 16:25
I remember my sister had a Gollywog when she was a tad,you would probably get fifteen years for producing one of those now. ;)
Do young ladies still wear Liberty Bodice's,
Strange garment that was. ;)
Ps, Those National Dried Milk tins were very handy for storing nails, screws, nuts bolts, odd bits of left over cement and such.
Still some of those in the cellar all neatly labeled by my Father back in the fifties.
Guess they have been replaced by tupperwear.

Kaptin M
9th Nov 2001, 16:53
In fact, a lot of these "old wives' tales" probably have some merit in them, for example PP cites the cod liver oil dosings - cod liver oil is an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is now used in conjunction with the oral Sabin vaccine to help prevent polio and other childhood ailments.

Don't wear red on Sundays - people will think you're a communist!
Don't put new shoes on the table..it's bad luck!
Don't burn hair - also bad luck (especially if it's still attached).
Crush empty egg shells, otherwise the witches will use them to sail out to sea. Why the hell the witches would want to sail out to see, I've got no idea.
Always remember to say "Rabbits, rabbits" on the first of each month.
If you both say the same word, at the same time, make a silent wish before you say anything else.
Cross your fingers when telling a fib makes it okay to lie.

9th Nov 2001, 17:01
Kaptin M - now you've mentioned them, I remember most of those things (not the one about eggshells though). You must be older than I thought!

Does anyone remember being given an amazing concoction called Dr J Collis Browne's for a bad stomach? It was full of all sorts of now forbidden ingredients and tasted absolutely wonderful. I think it had a fairly high alcohol content.

Other things I liked were gripe water and rosehip syrup.

Bally Heck
9th Nov 2001, 17:06
Ah Kaptin.

The Rabbits is probably a derivation from the ancient and honourable custom of pinching and punching someone on the first day of a month and then saying. "A pinch and a punch on the first of the month. White rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit."

The white rabbit bit of course made one imune from retribution. Pinching and punching sometimes a total stranger who might well be a psychopathic murderer does carry risks

Funnily enough, this custom could only be carried out before noon for some reason.

9th Nov 2001, 17:14
How old are you people?


Just kidding! :D

9th Nov 2001, 21:14
Dont cast a clout till spring is out , what the heck does that mean ?. http://www.shef.ac.uk/english/natcect/surveys/proverbs.php more here.

[ 09 November 2001: Message edited by: widgeon ]

tony draper
9th Nov 2001, 21:23
Can't get anything from that link??,
the proverb means don't shed any winter clothing until May, a wise precaution in the North of England. ;)

9th Nov 2001, 21:34
My Granny used to say that if you watched a fire during the evening you'd wet the bed.

Biggles Flies Undone
9th Nov 2001, 21:41
And did you? :rolleyes:

Mac the Knife
9th Nov 2001, 23:50
PP - checkout http://www.vcu.edu/hasweb/for/struwwel/struwwel.html for some Struwwelpeter nostalgia. Used to horrify my as a kid - 'specially the Scissorman.

9th Nov 2001, 23:59

Thanks for that. I've got my grandmother's original copy of it - a very early edition. To think this was the book that taught me to read at the age of 4!

The book I really loved was Little Black Sambo (but that's been banned for years).

Co ordination unaffected
10th Nov 2001, 00:26
I remember once my Dad told me that the penguins at Edinburgh zoo lived in the bins when they weren't on walkabout. I didn't believe him, but when I put my lolly wrapper in one, he put his hand in the other side and 'bit' me.

I did of course, being 4 or 5 at the time chit myself.


10th Nov 2001, 01:49
Err... no Biggles I didn't. You ever try it?

10th Nov 2001, 09:43
I remember the "pinch and the punch for the first of the month, and no returns", we didn't mention white rabbits though. AND you could counter with "a pinch and a kick for being so quick, and no returns", so you were even, one with a sore arm, one with a sore leg.


Co ordination unaffected
10th Nov 2001, 11:27
Our parents told us that ours was the last house on Santas round, and he didn't come until 7 or 8 AM. This one worked for a couple of years at least, and has been tucked away in my head for future use.

10th Nov 2001, 11:42
My dear Mother used to tell me that I would get piles if I continued sitting on our cold concrete step at the back door.

Well I did get piles but I still think she was wrong.