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A Potter's Moll: Upside Down Dishes

Potters have unusual mealtime habits, as Liz Robison reveals. They can hardly wait for a dish to be empty so that they can turn it upside down to see whose maker’s mark is on he bottom.

Can we talk about kissing? How are you supposed to know how many times? If it’s more than once, how do you know which cheek to start with?

I’ve been thinking about this over the last couple of weeks as we’ve had two lots of seven people in potter Jim’s studio on ceramic courses. Some are returnees, like Masha from Moscow, who greeted me with three kisses and a bear hug.

Many new students seem like old friends by the time they leave but does one shake hands, hug or kiss when they leave? The worst scenario is when one person does one thing and the other does the other, if you know what I mean.

We have interesting conversations at mealtimes, as well as talking about the handmade pots that the food is served in. Potters can usually hardly wait for a dish to be empty before they turn it upside down to see whose maker’s mark is on the bottom.

One student asked me how many kids we had and I launched into an account of how old, where they live, what they do etc, until I felt I was going on a bit, and I finished by saying: ‘The short answer is three.’ She charmingly responded by saying: ‘The long answer is more interesting.’

A young teacher from a Wakefield Comprehensive came on the course for the second time. One mealtime (American) Jim attempted some Yorkshire pronunciation and this lass said: ‘Ah bless, he does try!’

I don’t think he’ll ever completely lose his ‘Toosday’, ‘stoodent’, or ‘leesure’ but he has certainly come on since he first came to Yorkshire in 1973.

When someone said: ‘Now then, Jim, have you enjoyed yourself?’, he replied: ‘Have I heck.’, when he meant ‘Not half!’


One of my pet dislikes is simpering women newscasters on TV with lip gloss. It seems undignified to me – give me Huw Edwards and his nice shirts any day. Mind you what about the furore over the new Home Secretary and her décolletage at her first parliamentary outing? I think the poor woman perhaps did not carefully enough study her appearance in the mirror. It’s been high necked tops since.

I often say to Jim that there must be a lot of people who do not have full length mirrors in their houses or they would not appear in public the way they do.


We took our two young grand daughters to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. (Still time to see the fabulous Andy Goldsworthy show. Exit 39 off the M1) What struck me this time, though, was the marvellous uninhibited way kids have of looking at things or making up activities. In one room there were circular heating grills in the floor and almost without exception the young kids who came in launched themselves into a hopping/jumping activity from grill to grill. Quite charming to see.

I’m off for two weeks’ Welsh adventures. More from me in a fortnight.


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