Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Parlour Revisited

A post from September 2009. Still relevant.


The other day I asked the household where some kitchen gadget had got to. Bert says,

The last place I saw it was on the sill in the parlour.

Parlour? Where’s the bloody parlour?

I never said parlour. I said…you know…that room out there.

You mean the room with the washing machine in it?

Yeah. That room, the – you know?

The scullery. Or utility room if you like. Where did parlour come from?

I never said parlour.

You bloody did.

It’s a big problem for me this shifting of place names. The outside is a nightmare. The sheds are referred to something like this -

  • The Woodshed
  • The Milk House
  • The Byre
  • The Cattle Shed
  • The Workshop
  • The Hen House
  • The Pig House
  • The Calf Shed
  • The Back Shed
  • The Potato Shed
  • The Turf Shed
  • The Silo
  • The Tractor Shed
  • The Tool Shed
  • Ian’s Shed

Of course we don’t have fifteen sheds. We have about six shed-type buildings and each one has at least three names depending on which decade Bert’s mind is settled on that particular day. For instance, if Bert refers to the Turf Shed, will he be speaking of the shed which currently contains turf (unlikely) or does he mean a shed that was used for turf storage twenty, or even forty years ago. This is not much use to me as I don’t know where they kept the turf during the Swinging Sixties.

It was no better in our last place where we only had a garage and three poly tunnels.

Where are my orange handled secateurs?

In the tunnels.

Which one?

The one with the clematis.

They all have clematis.

The montanas.

Big ones or liners?

Och you know. The one with Denise’s potting bench.

She has two bloody potting benches! Here they are! Why couldn’t you just have said the middle tunnel?

I blame his mother.

When this was her house there were three rooms referred to as The Scullery and two known as The Pantry and two called The Good Room and two more called The Front Room. Upstairs was The Room, Bert’s Room, Lizzie’s Room, Uncle Andy’s Room, Our Room, My Room, The Good Room, The Room With The New Window, The Room With The Broken Floor, The Cupboard, The Back Room, The Room With The Good Bed, The Front Room, The Big Room, The Wee Room, The Best Room and the Attic. As far as I know, The Toilet and The Bathroom were never called anything else but I could be wrong.

There was none of that nonsense in our house. Upstairs we had 4 bedrooms which were named according to the persons who slept in them, downstairs was The Kitchen, The Scullery, The Room, The Bathroom and The Room Before The Bathroom. It never changed downstairs. Outside sheds were named and stayed named. You knew where you were in Tannaghmore.

And don’t get me started on fields.



4 comments:

Grannymar said...

Count your blessings, girl! I have an 'under the stairs' in my bungalow!

Clairenewcastle said...

I've had an "Under The Stairs" in every house I've lived in and assumed that everyone else has.
I was brought up in a house where the living room was called The Kitchen and the kitchen was called The Scullery.

Doris Eleanor said...

Loved this post. In Ballyronan we had names for the outhouses including - the dairy, the 'bench' and the boiling house. Fields too, my favourite being 'Purgatory', named by Granda because it was right up at the end of the lane. And yes our kitchen was a scullery and the living room a kitchen. Then we had the 'sitting room' for when people visited.

Nelly said...

The kitchen and scullery designation is very common in country homes in Ireland. We have no Under The Stairs in this house. Don't know why as such a space exists. it's not closed off. The fields are a problem area too. Thankfully a good deal of them are now covered with trees so we can call them the wood. Bert makes up the field names as he goes along. The far field, the back field, the long field, the meadow, Hubert's field, Jack's field, the field across the road, the middle field, the big field, the wee field, the hay field etc. That's more names than there are fields. just like the sheds.