After writing the heading for this post I stopped to think how many of my granny’s sayings I could actually remember, and although when I was young it seemed my mother was always quoting from her, I can now easily count them on the fingers of one hand. But I suppose it’s the sayings that (a) made sense and (b) continued to be relevant that I recall now, so many years later. I don’t even know if she made up any of them herself. ‘You’re a long time dead’, the one that gave me the shivers from the moment I first heard it, isn’t really one of hers as I’ve heard it elsewhere too.
‘A pretty face sets a dish clout’ seems to be more authentically Scottish, at least in the sense that people who aren’t Scots have difficulty puzzling out what it means. A couple of clues: the word ‘sets’ seems to be a variation on ‘suits’, and ‘clout’ is ‘cloth’. But even knowing that, the sentence doesn’t entirely make sense, being the wrong way round unless you were brought up saying ‘You suit that colour’ instead of ‘That colour suits you.’ (I’m not sure if this is a Scottish construction or more widespread.) What the saying really means, in case you haven’t worked it out yet, is that a pretty person doesn’t need pretty clothes to make them look nice – a useful way of dealing with a demanding daughter!
‘You should always put on your hat to visit friends’ can be puzzling, and indeed someone else I shared it with thought it was an injunction to make an effort when you go out visiting. However, from other evidence I know it meant that you shouldn’t live too close to your friends but leave some space between you – enough space for you to need a hat on when you go out to see them!
I think that’s all for now – other things I remember my granny saying don’t really count as ‘sayings’, but were more like specific instructions, such as ‘don’t let your ball of knitting wool trail on the floor if there’s a dog in the house’. From experience I know that applies in spades to cat-owning households.
Edited later that same day to add: I knew there was something lurking at the back of my mind waiting to be written in this post. It’s more or less the motto of the female members of our family: It’s better to wear out than rust out! I remembered it while doing the housework, naturally.