Key’s Cupboard : The Little Shop Of Roger Giles

Key's Cupboard

As an addendum to Sabine Baring-Gould Week at Hooting Yard, here is an extract from the great man’s biography of the eccentric Robert Stephen Hawker, The Vicar Of Morwenstow (1886):

The people of Wellcombe are very ignorant. Indeed, a good deal of ignorance lingers still in the West of England. The schoolmaster has not yet thrown a great blaze of light on the Devonian mind, and the Cornish mind is not much better illuminated.

I give a specimen of English composition by a schoolmaster of the old style in Devonshire ; and it may be guessed that the Cornish fared not better for teachers than their Wessex neighbours.

This is an advertisement, written over a little shop : –

“ROGER GILES, Surgin, Parish clark and Skulemaster, Groser, and Hundertaker, Respectably informs ladys and gentlemen that he drors teef without wateing a minit, applies laches every hour, blisters on the lowest tarms, and vizicks for a penny a peace. He sells Godfather’s Kordales, kuts korns, bunyons, dokters hosses, clips donkies, wance a munth, and undertakes to luke arter every bodys nayls by the ear. Joes-harps, penny wissels, brass kanel-sticks, fryinpans, and other moozikal hinstrumints hat grately reydooced figers. Young ladys and genelmen larnes their grammur and langeudge, in the purtiest manner, also grate care taken off their morrels and spellin. Also zarm-zinging, tayching the base vial, and all other zorts of vancy-work, squadrils, pokers, weazils, and all country dances tort at home and abroad at perfekshun. Perfumery and znuff, in all its branches. As times is cruel bad, I begs to tell ey that i his just beginned to sell all sorts of stashonary ware, cox, hens, vouls, pigs, and all other kinds of poultry. Blakin-brishes, herrins, coles, skrubbin-brishes, traykel, godly bukes and bibles, mise-traps, brick-dist, whisker-seed, morrel pocker-ankerchers, and all zorts of swatemaits, including taters, sassages, and other gardin stuff, bakky, zigars, lamp oyle, tay-kittles, and other intoxzikatin likkers ; a dale of fruit, hats, zongs, hare oyle, pattins, bukkits, grindin stones, and other aitables, korn and bunyon zalve and all hardware. I as laid in a large azzortment of trype, dogs’ mate, lolipops, ginger-beer, matches, and other pikkles, such as hepsom salts, hoysters, Winzer sope, anzetrar.

“Old rags bort and zold here and nowhere else, new lade heggs by me Roger Giles ; zinging burdes keeped, sich as howles, donkies, paykox, lobsters, crickets, also the stock of a celebrated brayder. Agent for selling gutty-porker souls. P.S. – I taches gografy, rithmetic, cowstiks, jimnastiks, and other chynees tricks.”

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

6 thoughts on “Key’s Cupboard : The Little Shop Of Roger Giles

    December 17, 2010 at 09:24

    Now there’s a true Dabbler.

    Though even I would have to admit that a man who “clips donkies”, teaches “morrels and spellin” as well as “chynees tricks” and “zarm-zinging”, lays his own eggs and sells “a large azzortment of trype” is probably spreading his talents a bit too thin.

  2. December 17, 2010 at 09:32

    After typing this up, and thus having to concentrate on such an improbable number of errors, it occurred to me that Sabine Baring-Gould might have invented the whole thing. Did Roger Giles and his little shop ever exist? I suppose we shall never know.

    December 17, 2010 at 09:36

    If Baring-Gould did make it all up then he had a brilliant imagination. No, it rings true to me: I’ve been to Cornwall. In fact, I go to Morwenstow every Christmas – it is a very isolated place indeed.

    December 17, 2010 at 09:37

    Oh, to be in England, now that Wurzels there.

  5. Worm
    December 17, 2010 at 10:44

    lobsters are such beautiful birds

    December 17, 2010 at 10:53

    There is one word, above all others that can induce carnal thoughts, Sabine don’t know why, but it does, so, do you mind, use it sparingly.

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