Carry on – scrumping

Carry on – scrumping

ACCORDING TO THE GOOD BOOK, Eve was the world’s first scrumper, which documented act had both she and her husband, Adam, evicted from the Garden of Eden. But were they remorseful?

Not according to Sir Harold Boulton, the man who penned the lyrics of that family favourite of the Light Programme in the days of Wireless, Devon, Glorious Devon. His suggestion is that they may have simply shrugged it off and moved on:

When Adam and Eve were dispossessed of the garden, hard by Heaven, they planted another one down in the West – ‘twas Devon,   ‘Twas Devon, glorious Devon!

Here, Eve grew more apples and Adam turned them into what the West Country has ever since called scrumpy.

So you would be forgiven for thinking that the word scrumpy and in turn scrumping (from the verb to scrump) share a common stem. Not so, says the Oxford English Dictionary which defines scrumping as “being the theft of apples from a tree” whilst scholars of Olde English state that scrumpy derives from a word meaning “withered”or “wrinkled.”

And before anyone writes in, “scrumptious” only dates from the 19th century and is simply a twist on “sumptuous”, okay?

But whilst we’re on the subject, Devon has given etymologists a couple of new phrases forged over the centuries by us down yere. They describes those who, likely as not, ‘as over-embibed. These be “proper scrumped” and “half-scrumped”. Pass they jugs, Evie, do.

John Fisher

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Writer, author, script and sketch-writer, cartoonist, public speaker, Visitor Engagement Volunteer (National Trust) and would-be ukelele virtuoso.