Friday, 9 December 2016

Grahamstown Gazette: Friendship is Magic

Every month I write a local heritage-themed column, on behalf of The Treasury, for the Grahamstown Gazette. Here's my piece for the December edition.

From The Treasury:

First, New Woman: "Come, Julie, let's go and have a friendship lunch together."
Second Ditto : '"Friendship lunch! What's that?"
First: "Why, you pay for mine and I'll pay for yours." (Thames Star, 26 November 1915)

Unlike today's local newspapers, the Thames Star at the turn of last century would often print funny little asides or short stories, like the one above, whenever it had more column space to fill than news or ads to fill it. Much like a modern internet meme, these jokes would circulate both nationally and internationally through the local newspapers, perhaps picking up a local twist for wherever they were published. Local newspapers would also regularly publish pieces of short fiction, or longer serialised works. Occasionally, you might also find a particularly good recipe or even an obituary doing the rounds. Without modern copyright laws, these texts were happily pirated by news editors and circulated freely throughout hundreds of newspapers, without much thought for their origins.

Here's a selection of short pieces and one-liners which graced the columns of the Thames Star:

Another Broken Friendship:
Miss Effie Aucee (just engaged) — ' What do you think Edwin said last night! That if he had to choose either me or a million pounds, he wouldn't even look at the million!
Miss May Tour (still waiting) —'Dear, loyal fellow! I suppose he didn't like to risk the temptation.' (26 May 1890)

An exchange says, "Matrimony is a noble institution. Not only does it unite man to his best friend, but it finds a good living for thousands of divorce lawyers." (8 June 1880)

What's, in a Name ?—one of the most guileless ministers in Scotland, an intimate friend of Dr. Guthrie's, was named Blackadder. (8 October 1874)

A fond mother in Valparaiso, on hearing that an earthquake was coming, sent her boys to a friend's in the country to escape it. After a few days she received a note from the friend, saying "Take your boys away and send along the earthquake instead." (4 November 1880)

Scribbler—  I have just lots of fun writing my jokes.' Friend— 'Then that explains it. I wondered where the fun came in.' (25 May 1891)

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