Saturday 16th June

I wish I had a pound for every time someone comes into the shop for directions.

It can range from delivery drivers to grockles* that are lost.

Yesterday we had a couple of ladies who came into the shop for help as they were lost.

We are postcode EX16 and they came in looking for TA4.

Our initial investigation on the postcode system on our computer and the maps on my iPhone gave a rough idea where it was but I had to get the OS map off the shelf to pinpoint the place they were looking for and then eventually give then directions.

They were only about 30 minutes away from their destination.

You would think in this day and age of internet and satnavs that people would prepare a bit better to work out where they are going.

It would also be useful if house owners gave help to delivery companies. We often get drivers in looking for a name of a house in Bampton, no street name just the house name.

This morning a misposted letter was brought into us. It was the name of a cottage in our street but even we could not pinpoint it. We resorted to phoning the local estate agent for help on this one.

Another ‘loss leader’ for us is sellotape and packing tape.

The numbers of customers who buy cheap stationery then wonder why the sealant of the envelope doesn’t do its job. They then assume we will provide some tape to stick it down for them.

About 1 in 20 actually thinks about buying some sellotape to do the trick.

The weather is still miserable.

I asked a farmer if the weather was causing him trouble.

He said the weather stops him from getting on and doing what jobs he should be doing at this time of year.

The cows hate it and they stop growing and even lose weight in the grim weather we are encountering at the moment.

*Grockle

What is the origin of the word ‘grockle’?

‘Grockle’ is an informal and often slightly derogatory term for a tourist. It was first popularized because of its use by the characters in the film The System (1964), which is set in the Devon resort of Torquay during the summer season. Some older dictionaries suggested that it might be a West Country dialect word. Other scholars have put forward the theory that it originated in a comparison of red-faced tourists (wearing baggy clothing with handkerchiefs on their heads) to ‘Grock’, a clown and music-hall performer who was famous in the first half of the 20th century.

The word grockle’ was indeed picked up by The System‘s scriptwriter from local people during filming in Torquay. However, it was apparently not an ‘old local dialect word’. According to research by a local journalist in the mid-1990s, the word in fact originated from a strip cartoon in the children’s comic Dandy entitled ‘Danny and his Grockle’. (The grockle was a magical dragon-like creature.) A local man, who had had a summer job at a swimming pool during as a youngster, said that he had used the term as a nickname for a small elderly lady who was a regular customer one season. During banter in the pub among the summer workers, ‘grockle’ then became generalized as a term for summer visitors.

This development seems to have occurred in, or only shortly before, the summer in which The System was filmed: the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary has no examples of the word dating from before the release of The System (though one or two people from the south-west remain convinced that they knew it before then).

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