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Sheepshaggers' beer, manholes and armadillos

Last month we told you how Grant McBride, the New South Wales Gaming and Racing minister, had threatened to ban the sale of Shag Beer because of its name. What will he do if anyone in NSW tries to sell a Scottish beer called Cairngorm Sheepshaggers' Gold?

The website of Cairngorm Brewery, Aviemore, Scotland describes the brew as "the best beer, baa none... brewed from the finest ingredients and the purest of water from the Cairngorm Mountains."

In a message posted on an Internet forum, beer lover John Doughty, of Cheslyn Hay, England, commented: "Disgraceful name that clearly aims it at the dirty mac brigade. Which is a pity, as this is quite a pleasant, almost pils-like golden ale. Soft finish with no dominant taste. A well balanced (apart from the name ) beer."

We received a great variety of interesting and amusing emails as feedback from last month's stories. Here are some of them.

From: Julie Bradford, Durham, North Carolina.
Reference: Shag beer.

Thanks very much for an entertaining break. Poor Mr. McBride: the mention of his eight children makes his outrage over the beer's name even funnier.

Here's my addition: here in North Carolina, a conservative southern state where I (a transplanted non-conservative northerner) edit All About Beer magazine, a favorite casual dance is called "the shag." I gather it's a line dance, popular at the beach resorts on our coast. I'll never forget taking Scottish friends to visit the beach, and their horrified reaction on seeing, for sale at a tacky souvenir stand, a video called "How to Shag."

From: Alexander Kholopov (aka Kholopov Trouser) and Natalia Lamanova (aka Lamana Wooma), founders of the Moscow website Sewers of the World - Unite!
Reference: Manhole covers.

Thank You for good news and for interest to our project. We are engaged these days in preparation of big volume for our second project - on Monday - Tuesday we place there more than 100 - 150 new images. And then we'll have time to study your site - very interesting to us - more thoroughly than two days ago. Sorry our English - we know it no more high school level - we translate all with comp. translator.

From Natty Bumppo (Brownsville, Kentucky)
Reference: Newspaper slogans.

The slogan of Sigma Delta Chi, the society of professional journalists -- "He serves best who serves the truth" -- was adopted by an Indiana weekly, the Hagerstown Exponent (which is no longer published). See

Some spoofers in the marching band at Indiana University put out a newsletter about 1960 called the Marching Hundred Sun-Times with the slogan, "He serves best who serves vermouth."

From Hembree (Nebraska).
Reference: Armadillos.

Thanks. An interesting article. I just wish I could get rid of the damned things. A family (or families) of armadillos has taken up residence under the deck at my house. Because of lack of clearance, there's no way under the sun I can get under there to find out where they're located. They come out at night and dig up the yard, uprooting flowers and plants in search of grubs and other insects. The front lawn looks like a minefield, there are so many holes in it. Makes mowing the grass a real challenge. The game and fish people tell me there's no poison that's effective, that all so-called repellents are worthless, and that the best cure is "a 20-gauge shotgun" -- although I doubt the neighbors would view that too kindly.

Thankfully, we don't have cane toads yet -- though with all the other critters that abound here, I wouldn't be surprised to see them any day now.

From: Leo C. Helmer
Reference: Pencil Stubs joins Graypow network.

I am an ol' octogenarian whater, I suppose that is th' right word, even if'n I might not of spelled it right. However I write tall tales, or is that tails? You can find me at I do a cooking column on redneck cookin' among other writings and ramblings. Also Redoing the Bible in my own redneck words. See "Tales from the Good Book" also on the site.

From: Peter Hinchliffe, Huddersfield, UK, editor of Open Writing
Reference: Odd place names.

I live in Yorkshire's Pennine Hills. Villages hereabouts often have two names: an official name, which appears on the map, and the name given it by those who live there.

Slaithwaite is known by locals as Slawit. Linthwaite is Linfit. Kirkheaton is Yetton. And Skelmanthorpe.... (brace yourselves) Skelmanthorpe is known to the locals as Shat. Don't know why or how it got the name, but scores of folk are delighted to say they live in Shat.

Five years ago my wife and our two sons were on holiday in Perth, Western Australia. We were staying in a friendly family hotel, 15 minutes walk from the city centre. Every day we availed ourselves of the free Blue Cat bus service.

One morning the bus was crowded. Son Dave and I were standing up front, near the driver. Two young women got on. By their accents they were Yorkshire folk. One of them asked the driver if he would tell them when they reached a certain street. He said he would, gently mocking her accent.

"Shouldn't mock a good Yorkshire accent,'' said I to the lass. "Whereabouts are you from?''
"Halifax,'' said she.
"And I'm from the next town over the hill,'' said I. "Huddersfield''
"Used to live in a village near Huddersfield,'' said the lass. "Skelmanthorpe. Do you know it?''
"Shat,'' said I loudly.
"Shat,'' said the lass, her face lighting up.

And two dozen pairs of startled Aussie eyes were focused on the foul-mouthed Poms.

From: Philip Silverman.
Subject: Odd place names.

I enjoyed your e-book site. I've got one place name that's kind of interesting. I once drove through a town called Between, Georgia

From: Patricia Paris, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Subject: Horehound.

When I was a kid, my folks kept horehound around all the time for colds and cough. It came in either coughdrops or in sticks, like peppermint. I liked it ok...frankly, I thought it beat the heck out of those menthol-type coughdrops. My grandmother, however, lived by it. There were several things in her life that she swore by, and not in any particular order: horehound, Vicks Salve, church on Sunday, Ben-Gay, Mentholatum, and chicken on Sunday (fried, baked, or perhaps chicken 'n dumplings).

From: David Downer
Subject: Nordic Walking.

"Was the Long Man of Wilmington the world's first Nordic Walker?" asks David Downer, editor of Nordic Walking News, in his new blog. He says Richard Mathews had posed that question after watching a TV program that featured the "Long Man of Wilmington", a figure etched into Windover Hill in East Sussex on England's south coast.

Authorities couldn't decide whether the figure dates back to Roman times, the Bronze Age or the 11th century. "And we thought that the origins of Nordic Walking dated back only to the early 1900s when cross country skiers were known to use their poles for summer 'snow free' training," says Downer.

"You will see what Richard means when you view the photos."

From: Sourdough, Petaluma, California.
Reference: E-book.

Thanks for leading me to fascinating articles I would never have seen.
A Reader's Digest for Century 21.

From: Mary Ned, Lexington, Massachusetts.
Reference: E-book.

Reader's Digest was originally composed of thirty articles monthly, one a day, culled from various publications. I'd say this site outperforms it. What an interesting collection of readings! Thanks, Eric, for bringing it all together.

And thanks to all of our correspondents for making this e-book so much more interesting. Perhaps we should rename it The Internet Surfer's Digest!

Story first posted August 2005

Copyright 2005

Eric Shackle

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