Waulking, talking and doing the necessary | Brief letters

Traditional crafts | Toilet humour | Forms of address | Consultation v engagement

In Stuart Jeffries’ review of Arcadia (11 March) he wonders what the Scottish women are wrangling on a table. The answer is they are “waulking”, finishing newly woven tweed by soaking it in stale urine, then thumping it rhythmically to shrink and soften the cloth. In the Scottish Gaelic culture the process was accompanied by singing and clapping. Although traditional waulking is disappearing, four waulking groups – Edinburgh, Strathspey, Barra and Laxdale Ladies – still compete in the Royal National Mòd, which supports and develops all aspects of the Gaelic language, culture, history and heritage.
Martyn Day
Twickenham, London

• Recent correspondence about “the necessary” (Letters, passim) reminds me of the story from my Black Country childhood of the rent collector who informed a tenant that if the rent were not paid he would have to “take the necessary steps”, to which the reply was “Yo con tek the whole necessary if you like – we still cor pay”.
Norman Billingham

• Brought up in Derby, the local form of address was “mi duck”or “mi ode” (Letters, 7 March). When living in Plymouth I rather enjoyed being “m’lover”. In both cases the form of address was not differentiated by gender.
Christopher Osborne
West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

• Stuart Heritage might like to give a shout out to “kiddie”, a popular greeting among the “we won’t be druv” gangs of East Sussex (Shortcuts, G2, 6 March).
Sam White
Lewes, East Sussex

• Can any reader please place a date on the change of use from “consultation” to “engagement” in NHS England’s publications? And why?
Tony Winters
Wallingford, Oxfordshire

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