Birthplace of the steam engine, the telegram, the correctly loaded scone – that is, none of your cream on first rummage – and home to many cheeky Cornish Patron Saints.
Us Cornish have our own identity, our own language and have happily been granted minority status. It might sound daft, but I am one of many who are proud to tick the box that recognises us as ever so slightly separate from the rest of England.
Land Of Pasties, Cream and Stupid People Apparently…
Cornwall is known for so many things, not least our beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets and psychotic sea gulls. Irritatingly, Cornwall’s indigenous people are also known, but not always in such glowing terms. Yes, we find ourselves the butt of many derogatory jokes, the majority of which are aimed at our collective IQ, presumed as it is to be somewhat below par.
There are only so many times you can be labelled a ‘pasty munching inbred’ before the need arises to clarify a few issues.
On the f*cking contrary, Pard!
I was raised by Cornish parents and, as is often the way down here, my friends’ parents too. Old school Cornish matriarchs who took no shit but loved me like their own. Having grown up immersed in the very best of our culture, I can tell you that, contrary to popular opinion, we really are a canny bunch. Yes, we may play dumb when it suits us, but we are quite used to hiding our lights under bushels/down a mine shaft. To quote my Dad, who comes from a long line of proud Cornishmen:
'The wise men may well have come from the east, but 'tis the clever buggers who come from the west!' Lady Sketch's Dad Click To Tweet
Spend any amount of time with us, you’ll soon realise – we have a unique, quick and very sharp sense of humour.
I reckon it’s a Celtic thing. My very dear and very humorous uncle (may he rest in peace) was a Scot in Cornwall who endeared himself to so many of us with his particular brand of wit. I lived here for nigh on 16 years before hearing of the lesser known Cornish Patron Saints. In fact, I may never have come across them, were it not for Uncle A. He had paid particular attention to the plethora of saints names given to many towns and villages around the county. And, true to form, he had put an amusing spin on them.
The Lesser Known Cornish Patron Saints
The idea for this started with the village of St Teath. For anyone not familiar, the Cornish pronunciation for this rhymes with ‘death’ rather than ‘heath’. So phonetically, it’s pronounced St Teth. It was amid much mirth that Uncle A decreed her (and her lisp) ‘St Teath. Patron Thaint of the D’Urberville(s)th … and so the long standing joke was born.
The concept is simple, but oh so clever. You take the saint’s name, you say it out loud, you pay attention to how it sounds, and you find the relevant humour within.
As far as I can remember, the only other he created was St Issey – Patron Saint of Gossips:
‘Ere! You know that gait tuss up the road’s goin bleddy Butlins for ‘is ‘olidays…’ ‘Naw! Is ‘ee?’
The two were enough to amuse our family for years whenever we drove past the signs, and kept the game alive long after Uncle A’s untimely demise.
When Sketch and I were first together and making regular trips between Truro and Bude, he mentioned the high volume of saints names in Cornwall. A memory stirred and with a chuckle, I clued him in on the family joke.
It was at the start of my chemo in 2012 when we were making the journey even more often, that we resurrected the idea. Many a trip to RCH passed in hysterical laughter as we patronised the Cornish saints along the way, according to the road signs.
(Check out my Chemo Diaries HERE.)
So, people of Cornwall, and readers of my Cornish witterings, below is draft 1 of the official list (always a work in progress).
Lady Sketch’s Guide To The Lesser Known Martyrs of The Motherland.
Some of the following take a bit of thinking about, and I encourage you to say them out loud, in a Cornish accent. (That’s CORNISH by the way, ie not how they speak on Doc Martin!!)
St Breward – Patron Saint of Poor Performance.
Outside Twilight in Redruth:
‘Any good was ee?’ ‘Naw, too much Betty Stoggs gave ‘im that breward’s droop…’
St Ruan – Patron Saint of Early Doors.
When you’ve had too much Rattler and you’re ruan-d for the rest of the night.
St Keverne – Patron Saint of Wheel Spins.
Named for the boy racers ‘Kev-ing’ it round Falmouth of an evening. Quarry Car Park to Pendennis Point so I’m told…
St Columb Major – Patron Saint of Landmarks.
Watches over Carn Brea Monument, Godrevy Lighthouse, Lanyon Quoit, Bude Light, the many mine stacks of Cornwall etc… those places that attract visitors by day and dealers by night.
St Columb Minor – Patron Saint of Spreadsheets.
Pretty much self explanatory.
St Juliot – Patron Saint of Star Crossed Lovers.
Named for that maid on the balcony in ‘Fair Verona.’ Not a patch on Gylly Beach Cafe’s balcony I’m willing to bet.
St Buryan – Patron Saint of Grave Diggers.
When your plot is getting a little crowded… ‘Bury-un ‘ere shall us, boy?’
St Kew – Patron Saint of The A30.
Anyone familiar with the Temple roadworks near Bodmin (are they completed yet?) will know. Also applies to the ‘Great Cormac Roundabout of Stratton,’ and St Ives Harbour in August. Petition St Kew when you’ve queued long enough and are starting to get teasy…
St Erme – Patron Saint of The Undecided.
With a plethora of ansum local beverages on offer, ’tis no wonder really:
‘What you avin’ then my bird? Rattler or Doombar?’ ‘Errrrrm…’
St Minver – Patron Saint of Abridgements.
Min-ver = Mini Version = An Abridgement.
Pray to St Minver when your Nan’s gone off on one about fortnightly bin collections again, and shows no sign of stopping this side of Friday… leads nicely into the next one:
St Mabyn – Patron Saint of Bin Day.
Every wednesday, sure as shit they come flocking. It’s like an all you can eat buffet for the bleddy seagulls. Bird-proof bags and bins are available from Cornwall Council at vast expense, but many favour the pellet gun approach:
‘Come near ma-bin again ya buggers an I’ll avee…’
St Ives – Patron Saint of The Materialisitic.
‘I’ve got this and I’ve got that…’ Also known as the PS of braggers and chuffers.
St Mawes – Patron Saint of Developers.
‘Build MORE properties the locals haven’t a chance of affording and sell them to MORE second homeowners who visit twice a year at best thus eroding MORE communities and contributing to the biggest housing crisis since Shrek evicted the fairy folk from his swamp you say? Geddon…’
St Stephens – Patron Saint of Getting Your Own Back.
When you lob extra strong fisherman’s friends at the seagull who went for your ice cream… ‘Tis even-stevens now yer bugger!’
St Austell – Patron Saint of Those With No Fixed Abode/Those Awaiting Banding On Cornwall Home Choice.
When Cornwall ‘Ousing move you into an ‘Ostel while you wait for a suitable property… could be there a while ‘Pard…
St Neot – Patron Saint of The Pasty Tax.
ASDA hot food counter down Penryn:
”Enny ‘ot ones in there issa?’ ‘Naw… tis that bleddy pasty tax, see.’
St Blazey – Patron Saint of Arsonists.
Again, pretty self explanatory.
St Endellion – Patron Saint of ‘Ansum Cheese.
Home of the best Brie this side of France.
St Merryn – Patron Saint of Carnivores.
Home of Cornwall’s main abbatoir.
St Winnow – Patron Saint of the Well Informed.
‘Ell up! Some bleddy fool on the news said Bude’s in Devon!’ ‘Winnow already! Seen it on Cornwall Live, diddnus!’
St Levan – Patron Saint of Those Who Cannot Last Til Lunchtime.
When your belly rumbles for a saffron bun and you realise, ’tis time for ‘Levenzees.
St Nectan – Patron Saint of ‘Down In One.’
When you’re playing catch up on a night out. ‘Where’s your Rattler to?’ ‘Nect’un diddun I boy!’
St Piran – Patron Saint of Turning Shit To Your Advantage.
Word is, he got thrown off the coast of Ireland with a millstone around his neck. Not to be beaten, the mighty St Piran used said stone as a board, and surfed his way over to Cornwall. That’s some bleddy boy!
St Michael – Patron Saint of Piss Takers.
For those who like to take the Michael. Case in point, anyone who has directed confused tourists to the fabled Porth Emmet Beach – ‘straight up the A30 and just keep going…’ You know who you are.
St Enodoc – Patron Saint of Falmouth Park & Float.
‘Where’s that bleddy boat got to?’ ‘Er’s still inna dock…’
St Clements – Patron Saint of Designated Drivers.
When you’re bored rigid watching your mates piss it up down Sailors in Newquay and all you’re allowed to drink is OJ and lemonade…
St Erth – Patron Saint of ‘Lectrics.
‘Yer, watch out for that green and yellow wire…’
St Wenn – Patron Saint of Dreckly.
When you’ve recently moved to Cornwall and are still getting to grips with the different pace of life:
‘What time can I expect to receive my post/West Brit/Trago delivery?’ ‘Be there dreckly my ansum!’
St Pinnock – Patron Saint of The Silly Billy.
‘What kinda gait pinnock crimps their pasties up the top fercrissakes?’
St Genny – Patron Saint of ‘Foragers’.
‘Genny lead off that roof did ‘ee?’ ‘Naw… ‘ad some copper wire from sub-station, mind…’
St Mellion – Patron Saint of Gamblers.
‘Ere Met! ‘Erd bout that bloke up Trelander estate avee? ‘Ee only won lottery! My Gar! ‘Twas mellions I ‘eard…’
St Lawrence – Patron Saint of Local Radio.
Last, but by no means least. Named for the incomparable Lawrence Reed – undisputed king of the lunchtime phone in on Radio Cornwall. Cannot think of a better chap to put the world to rights with.
Can you think of any Saints we’ve missed? Comment below For A Chance To Appear on the official list!!