Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. Gooseberries known colloquially as gooze-gogs in Liverpool:
‘What did you ‘ave fer yer puddin?’
‘Gooze-gog pie.’ [Childwall, Liverpool, April 2013].

2. From my mother, who lived near Kingsley, N. Staffs, from the 1920s to the 1960s, comes a local piece of doggerel:
Midsummer Day come early or late (i.e. in the week)
The Sunday before is Kingsley Wakes.
On that day the gooseberries, which were deemed to be ripe about then, had been picked, and were made into pies. These went towards hospitality for all the friends and relations who traditionally came to visit on Wakes Sunday [Bath, Somerset, January 1998].

3. Gooseberries – picking and eating the small unripe fruit gave you head-lice [Longford, Shropshire, April 1997].

4. Gooseberry bush – the place where mother found her latest baby [St Day, Cornwall, January 1994].

5. Common treatment for a stye on one’s eye that I saw employed by old folk in the 1920s was to prick the stye every morning with a thorn from a gooseberry bush. This vied with another commonly used cure. Have a widow touch the stye with her gold wedding ring! [Larne, Co. Antrim, October 1993].

6. Babies are found under gooseberry bushes. I was told this by several of my aunts when I was a small child (I was born in 1915), but don’t imagine they seriously believed this themselves! They said it to avoid having to explain to me where I really came from and how [Reading, Berkshire, February 1987].

7. My grandmother used to say ‘May the skin of a gooseberry cover all your enemies’ [Thorncombe, Dorset, April 1978].

Images:  main, cultivated, The Allotment, Kensington Gardens, City of Westminster, June 2015; inset, exhibit at the Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society Annual Show, North Yorkshire, 1 August 2017.