I don’t like "emmets" – the word that is!

Saw my first feathered swallows this week and it was wonderful. Given the great weather we’ve been having I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve been around longer but if they have I’ve not been observant enough. In Tenerife, when the summer ends and the winter tourists and holidaymakers arrive they call them “swallows” in common with the birds they are leaving the cold northern shores for warmer climes. It’s said with fondness and not a little bit of smugness, those on the island revel in the fact that their island is so loved that people flock to it all year around supporting their economy long into the winter months.

How much nicer a description than “emmet.” It’s said that when the Tamar Bridge first opened someone quipped that as the line of traffic crawled across they looked like emmets – the Cornish word for ants. I can’t find anything to back this up though; the other suggestion is that as the holiday makers swarm around on the beaches getting redder and redder again like ants. Still I suppose “ants” does make sense, what I think doesn’t make sense is the snide, sneery way that it is said. Maybe some say the word with kindness but I’ve never heard it used nicely. Now I’ll put my hands up here and confess that I am not Cornish – and as I’ve only been here 12 years I’m still classed as an “incomer” another friendly welcoming term but my children are born here so maybe they’ll be hope for us in a century or two.

The point is that I’ve never been made to feel unwelcome; I find Cornwall a very friendly and open county. When I meet people for the first time I don’t check out their lineage and they don’t check out mine, we meet as equal strangers and we either like each other or not. It’s never based on where our grandparents are buried. So I find it disheartening to hear people being called emmets or bloody emmets or worse. Of course it’s maddening when they get in the wrong lane on the mini roundabout but who ever heard of a three lane mini roundabout anyway? And yes I know it’s enough to make you weep when you are bonnet to bonnet with a car pulling a caravan along a lane but I bet they’re weeping more.
I’ve met as many rude Cornish as I have visitors and the fact that some use the word “emmet” in a derogatory fashion proves the point. We live in a great county no wonder people want to visit or live here who can blame them, they come and bring their hard earned money which I for one am rather glad to see as are a great many other businesses in the county.

I like Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby, be nice to people and most of them will be nice back, call them names, belittle them and sneer at them and they may well do the same back. Now I’m back off out to enjoy this glorious weather, I hope when you read this it’s still good.

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