The Importance of Being Earnest: More Tales from the Dales

Our Glorious Yorkshire Flag.  Long live the White Rose County!

Our Glorious Yorkshire Flag. Long live the White Rose County!

Earnest was a Yorkshire Dales farmer, now long gone.  The British, especially the English, have a reputation for being somewhat indirect and perhaps excessively polite and understated.  A few examples…

English: “I’m not entirely convinced you’re factually accurate.”

German: “Quatsch!”


English: “Excuse me, please, can I just get past you on my bike?”

German: “Aus dem Weg, du Arsch!!!!!!  Mensch!”


Exceptionally among the British, Yorkshiremen have a reputation for being blunt, direct and forthright.  Earnest certainly was.  Earnest was a man of few words, and none of those words was small talk or particularly cute and cuddly.  Picture a 6ft (181cm) tall man, immaculately dressed from head to toe, shoes looking like black glass (he never did any of the manual labour on the farm), leaning on the rails at Leyburn market, an expression on his face to say, “Don’t you ever speak to me unless I speak to you first.”

After a few minutes a sales rep, all very hopeful of seeing a bit of commission, approaches Earnest.

Good morning, Mr G.  How are you?

Earnest (scowling at having had his peace disturbed):

None of your business.

Sales rep:

Do you require cattle feed?

Earnest, scowling:

I have sufficient.

Sales rep:



I speak to Mr S. when I wish to place an order.

Sales rep:

Very well, Mr G.


Good day to you.

When Earnest wanted to order cattle feed he would catch the eye of Mr S, his usual sales rep, point in his direction with his walking stick as if it were an RSM’s pace stick to summon said rep over to him and then bark,

The same type and amount as last time.

(Vocabulary points: 1. RSM – Regimental Sergeant-Major, nicknamed “Regimental Scarey Monster”, the senior soldier in a British Army regiment; 2. Pace stick: a long stick carried by warrant officer and non-commissioned officers in the British armed forces as a symbol of authority.)

Later that evening, a visitor calls at Earnest’s farm and knocks at the door.


There’s someone at the door, Grandad.

Earnest, not even lifting his head momentarily from his copy of The Northern Echo newspaper:

They’ll go away… eventually.

Five minutes later, the visitor, who has still not got the message, is still at the door.


Grandad, Grandad, that man is still there, and it’s raining.  That poor man is getting wet.

Earnest (nose still in his newspaper):

Your eyes are not failing you.  May the Lord place eternal shame on him for his conceit in believing that I should permit him egress to my dwelling without prior appointment or invitation.  The rain is but an expression of the Lord’s anger at his shamelessness.

Earnest was also a Methodist lay preacher and would travel round all the local Methodist churches and chapels with his six-year-old grandson in tow.  Fast forward to one Sunday in a frozen cold chapel somewhere in the Dales.

Earnest standing at the lectern in his Sunday best:

Let us pray.


But Grandad, there’s nobody here, just you and me.


Nonetheless let us pray.

On that note, please be upstanding for our glorious Yorkshire national anthem.  Sithee!


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