Express & Star

27 sayings only uttered in the Black Country – how many do you know?

"Alright bab, I thought I'd end up in The Cut before getting off that island, had to go right round the Wrekin, now, you got any fittle? Faggots or even just a cob? I need to fill my cakehole before I get a right cob on."

Putting the pig on the wall to watch the band go by at Upper Gornal

Do you understand any of that sentence? If you are from the Black Country, you should, if not well read on, because all these Black Country sayings, and a lot more will be explained.

What we say, and how we say it, defines who we are.

And nowhere as much as the Black Country – there was a time, well most of time, people and whole towns did not want to be part of the Black Country.

Now, everyone wants to be part of the Black Country, we even have a flag.

But if you hear these sayings and have no-idea what is being said, then can you be from the Black Country?

Pig On Wall

Putting the pig on the wall to watch the band go by at Upper Gornal

As in "blimey, Bobby's got his gladrags on, put the pig on the wall". Believed to date back over 150 years, putting the pig on the wall is not slang, it is descriptive, it means putting an actual pig on a wall. Why? Well, so the porky part of the family does not miss out on whatever everyone else is enjoying.

A picture postcard was published in 1875 of a parade in honouring hero Captain Webb becoming the first man ever to swim the English Channel, however, the moustachioed muscle man was not what captured the public's imagination, it was a pig on a wall watching proceedings.

Copies were made of the postcard, poems added, and places and names were changed, it was like the Victorian version of going viral, and after that the pig on wall became synonymous with Gornal, and the Black Country, not Dawley in Shropshire where the parade, pig, photographer and the swimmer were all from.

However, like the perfect 'meme' or GIF that perfectly encapsulates a global scandal, it was a poem added to the picture postcard which created the urban legend.

"Who put the pig on the wall at Gornal to see the band go by. Was it Billy the Boy, Jimmy the Go, Clockweight, Billy on Tho'b, The Pokey Mon or Jacko, Tasso, Cogger, Blossom, Jackery? No, it was Johhny Longstomach."

Now, Pig on the Wall is one of Black Country Ales best selling beers, so the saying is repeated every day at the bar in hundreds of Midlands pubs, it is an English dark mild ale style beer brewed in Dudley, which goes perfectly well with pork scratchings.

Round the Wrekin

The Wrekin, Shropshire

As in "the cowing M6 is closed again, we'll have to go round the Wrekin now". Again, no rhyming slang or play on words, it is descriptive, because to go round the Wrekin is, to go round Shropshire wanna-be mountain The Wrekin.

As opposed to walking through the secret tunnel underneath it or being catapulted over it, round the Wrekin means going the long way round.



Fancy some fittle? Faggots and peas, pork scratchings, bacon and grey peas, bread pudding, they are all fittle.

Fittle basically means Food Fit For Human Consumption!

And what washes down fittle nicely, a bit of Council Pop, or tap water as most people know it.


The sign we all want to see
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