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[Readings]

Road to Wigan Ear

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From a November 25, 1848, article published in the Norfolk News, Eastern Counties Journal and Norwich, Yarmouth, and Lynn Commercial Gazette and included in Purring: Sport of the People, an exhibition that opened in January at the Museum of Wigan Life, in Wigan, England. “Purring,” a Lancashire term for kicking, referred to various forms of competitive fighting in which opponents wearing wooden clogs would kick each other in the shins. An “up-and-down fight” also allowed punching or throttling. First outlawed as early as 1795, the sport is believed to have persisted into the twentieth century.

a cool fellow — Early on Sunday last a police officer observed a man, having the appearance of an excavator, busily engaged in searching in a field off Store Street for something which he appeared to have lost. The officer went up and questioned the man, who at first seemed remarkably taciturn and indisposed to answer questions, but at last stated that he had that morning been engaged in an up-and-down fight, Lancashire fashion, and that he was looking for one of his ears, which his antagonist had bit off. Commiserating the poor wretch, the policeman assisted him to look for his ear, which, after a while, he found, when the officer strongly advised him to apply for a warrant against the brute who had so maimed him. “Noa, noa,” rejoined the fellow, coolly depositing his stray ear in his waistcoat pocket, “aw’st do now’t at soart; it was a fair gradely stand-up battle un aw want nother law nor warrant.”


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April 2014