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Old 29-12-2011, 20:47   #1
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Screeching In

As I sit listening to a hockey game on the radio I'm sipping on a lovely dark rum called Screech which is a Jamaican rum bottled in St. John's Newfoundland. Traditionally screech was the name given to cheap, over proof Caribbean alcohol but the rum that has adopted the name is a very well tempered 80 proof. Still it has enough potency to find me ruminating on traditions.

It should be noted that Newfoundland is as nautical place as you're likely to find. It is a large, wild rock set in the stormy North Atlantic where it's people have traditionally lived in isolated fishing communities along its rugged shoreline. It was a colony unto itself until it joined with the rest of Canada in 1949 and while its people speak English it is a form of English that requires a discerning ear if one is to understand it. Time, politics and the modern world have reduced the isolation and the accent but it is still a unique place.

If you weren't blessed by birth to be born on the rock then the only way to become a Newfie is to be screeched in. Finding someone qualified to do the ceremony isn't difficult since any Newfoundlander can administer it. Finding a cod may be more difficult these days, though once you could reach your hand in the chuck and pull one out, none-the-less you should be able to find one.

It is a simple ceremony, you kiss the cod full on the lips, down a shot of screech and then when asked, "Are ye an honourary Newfoundlander?", respond, "Yes I am my trout and may your big jib always be full!", or some variation there of.

"Lard t'underin' jaysus buy, some good ta see ya."
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Old 30-12-2011, 06:47   #2
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Re: Screeching In

Reminds me of "The Boat That Wouldn't Float" by Farley Mowat...a bit o' screech poured in that story, although Newfies might not appreciate their portrayal (or maybe they do?).
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Old 30-12-2011, 06:57   #3
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Re: Screeching In

Reminds me of some of my Navy days traditions for crossing various lines

Do you get a certificate etc. after you kiss that cod? Is there a tongue requirement?
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Old 30-12-2011, 07:21   #4
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Re: Screeching In

Ise the buys that builds the boat, and ise the buys thet sails em...
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Old 30-12-2011, 07:27   #5
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Re: Screeching In

You do realize, being "screeched in" is all just tourist bunkum. Fun, mostly for the newfies, who get a kick out of watching hapless folks from away kissing fish on the lips .

But the rum is good .
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Old 30-12-2011, 07:31   #6
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Re: Screeching In

I just came to the realization that I couldn't remember the rest of the N&L national anthem and so was wondering if I should write Kathy Dunderdale and humbly apologize for the blasphemy and offer to turn in my honorary Newfoundlander-ship. It has been such a long time.

Al Pitman, where ever you are I hope you are well and happy and I do hope the blood came out of your white shirt.

Mike OReilly, bite thy tongue.
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Old 30-12-2011, 08:16   #7
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Re: Screeching In

I believe Mowat is not popular in the Island, in some circles, for his 1972 book, A Whale for the Killing.

FYI, screech can be found from time to time in liquor stores off the rock. (Or something labelled screech, anyway) So then all you need is a cod (or something labelled cod, anyway) and a willingness to drop all the aitches in your dipthongs (or dipt'ongs, me ould chum).

Personally, I'll stick to Scotch.


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Old 30-12-2011, 08:25   #8
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Re: Screeching In

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Mike OReilly, bite thy tongue.
Oops, I wasn't supposed to let the secret out. I guess my newfie membership card will be revoked now
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:06   #9
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Re: Screeching In

Aye, anna foine chayce too, 'fer loobricatin' one's laments.
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Old 30-12-2011, 10:57   #10
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Re: Screeching In

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
Reminds me of some of my Navy days traditions for crossing various lines

Do you get a certificate etc. after you kiss that cod? Is there a tongue requirement?
I believe some of the bars hand out certificates and there is no tongue required but kissing the cod square on the lips is.
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Old 30-12-2011, 11:01   #11
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Re: Screeching In

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connemara View Post
I believe Mowat is not popular in the Island, in some circles, for his 1972 book, A Whale for the Killing.

FYI, screech can be found from time to time in liquor stores off the rock. (Or something labelled screech, anyway) So then all you need is a cod (or something labelled cod, anyway) and a willingness to drop all the aitches in your dipthongs (or dipt'ongs, me ould chum).

Personally, I'll stick to Scotch.


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He took islanders to task for their senseless slaughter of whales and many turned against him. That was a long time ago and most of that generation would be dead now. I'd be surprised if the resentment is still there.

Remember the ceremony can only be administered by a Newfie, other wise your just kissing a cod.
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Old 30-12-2011, 11:21   #12
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Re: Screeching In

Dunno, Hummingway... if you were 20 in 1972, you've got a pretty good chance of still being extant in 2012. I was 23 at the time and am still walking around -- perhaps a bit more slowly, but with keener enjoyment. My resentments have mellowed a bit, but I could still work up a bit of ire for some of them.

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Old 30-12-2011, 11:42   #13
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Re: Screeching In

Try saying this fast three times...whale, oil beef, hooked...you'll sound like a Newfie in no time
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Old 30-12-2011, 12:17   #14
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Re: Screeching In

Can you imagine the confusion if the Newfie (god luv 'em) in this short video were trying to talk to Cajuns in this one?

Lard tunderin' Jesus bye that would be a confusin' situation me son.

Newfie Cortona - YouTube

Cajun response OBWAT-southern drawl scene 2.wmv - YouTube
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Old 30-12-2011, 12:39   #15
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Re: Screeching In

BTW, REAL screech was supposed to be the brewing of sediment and leachate from otherwise empty rum barrels. Those Newfies were way ahead of their time in the world of recycling. Although I'm not from there, another bit of trivia... The cod were so thick when the Grand Banks were first discovered, they were reported to have slowed the passage of the ships that discovered them.
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