Wednesday 28th November

A few things have been left behind in the shop this week so far.

A walking stick, a set of car keys (the owner must have been carrying a spare one I guess) and this aged address book.

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The address book was marked in 1957 as a present to ****.

The owner phoned this morning and sent her hubby to collect it this afternoon.

There are many helpful people around Bampton and yesterday a chap who knew Denise (who works for us) went to Tiverton to track down a torch bulb for me and when he didn’t find one he went home and had a rummage around and came back with four or five for me.

A young chap, about 2, came in this morning and made himself at home.

He took off his coat and wellies and headed for the toy box while his mum searched out some Christmas cards.

He was as happy as Larry.

But who was Larry?

There are two commonly espoused contenders. One is the Australian boxer Larry Foley (1847 – 1917). Foley was a successful pugilist who never lost a fight. He retired at 32 and collected a purse of £1,000 for his final fight. So, we can expect that he was known to be happy with his lot in the 1870s – just when the phrase is first cited.

The alternative explanation is that it relates to the Cornish and later Australian/New Zealand slang term ‘larrikin’, meaning a rough type or hooligan, i.e. one predisposed to larking about. ‘Larrikin’ would have been a term that Meredith would have known – the earliest printed reference is also from New Zealand and around the time of the first citation, in H. W. Harper’s Letters from New Zealand, 1868:

“We are beset with larrikins, who lurk about in the darkness and deliver every sort of attack on the walls and roof with stones and sticks.”

 

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