Christmas Tales by Mary Quick
Review by Frank Ruhrmund
HAVING been "born, bred and buttered in St Ives", as she says, "and fortunate enough to be a descendant on both sides of families that have lived in Cornwall for generations", it must be fair to say that few people are as completely Cornish as the writer Mary Quick.
A prize-winning bard of the Cornish Gorsedd, for several years her stories have appeared in a local newspaper and now, with the support of colleagues at the St Ives Archive Study Centre, she has collected a number of them in Christmas Tales.
Just as the front cover illustration of Tony Smith's photograph of the St Ives lifeboat The Princess Royal bringing Father Christmas into the harbour on December 21, 1992, evokes the spirit of Christmas, so her collection of Christmas Tales lives up to her declared hope that these tales will be "not only be of interest to Cornish people, but to those who love Christmas and Cornwall".
Several of these stories are laced with Cornish dialect as rich as the Christmas cake, "filled with black treacle, brown sugar, nuts and cherries", and are perhaps best read aloud and preferably by someone with a Cornish accent.
For those unfamiliar with such dialect, Mary Quick thoughtfully provides glossaries that explain the meanings of everything from geek (look) and clunked (swallowed) to grushens (used tea leaves) and planchen (wood floor).
Designed by Keith Lloyd and published by the St Ives Archive Study Centre at £6, comprising 21 engaging tales, it is excellent value and should be by the bedside or on the bookshelf of all those who love Christmas and Cornwall, but especially those who can claim to be Hakes!