June 6 2018: gone scumfishin’

But what’n kind o’ fish it was

Young Lambton cuddn’t tell,

He cuddn’t fash te carry it hyem

So he hoyed it doon a well.

The Lambton Worm.

Probably on little more than the national living wage, the blog a couple of days ago employed the splendid word “scumfished”, prompting an anguished email from Gary Brand, a North London-based  Spurs supporter.

What’s a scumfish, he wonders, as young Lambton himself might have done.

Though there may be plenty more fish in the sea, a scumfish isn’t among them. It’s chiefly used adjectivally, a North-East term meaning sweltered, suffocating or barely able to breathe through heat or smoke. It’s what happens when there’s a stythe.

Attempts by the etymologically immoral Scots to claim the word were bolstered, however, by a letter in The Times a number of years ago which claimed that the term had been first used by the Border Reivers when smoking out fortified farmhouses by burning wet straw.

In promoting Guisborough Town fan Mark Cowan’s new e-book, we’d also queried his phrase “as strong as a Scotch Bonnet pepper” – used of former Crook Town player Kyle Davies – assuming it to be the sort of peppermint that kept Granpaw Broon warm in winter.

Since no explanation has been forthcoming, we’ve googled it. A Scotch Pepper is a Caribbean chilli, so called because of a perceived resemblance to a tam o’ shanter and reckoned a brain blower on the Scoville scale (by which such things apparently are measured.)

When not on a scumfishing trip, Gary’s also been watching games in the Conifa Cup, the newsworthy competition for nations and ethnic groups unaffiliated to Fifa.

One invovled Barawa, part of Somalia, who didn’t have to qualify because they’re the hosts – all the team live in London. Home advantage or no, they lost 8-0 to Northern Cyprus.

He also saw a team of ethnic Hungarians from Ukraine play Cascada, which has something to do with Oregon and who were supported by a chap in a straw boater, blue blazer, white trousers and a bow tie.

On Thursday he’ll be attending a semi-final involving Punjab, the team likely to include one or both of the Sunderland-born Purewal brothers, long familiar in the Northern League. Truly it’s a small world.

*It’s a sadness to learn of the death of Bob Forster, father of Graeme and Colin and once a familiar face on Northern League grounds.

Graeme was the vociferous manager of Evenwood Town, West Auckland and Tow Law – maybe even Crook – but has now sold his soul to the hosses. Colin, still on the circuit, is a good talker, too.

Bob was quieter, perhaps more measured, certainly a proud dad and a very nice man. Rest in peace.