Masks

Sunshine, blue skies, a lovely morning to be out on the moors. No fear of losing your way in the fog today. No fear of being maskered.

To ‘masker’ is a Yorkshire term meaning to render giddy, senseless, or bewildered as when lost in a blizzard, fog, or darkness.

Masks are due to become very familiar to us. Not the high rough pasture moorland of Westmoreland or a fox’s head. But a ‘selerelle‘, ‘vyserne‘, ‘Pope’s face‘, ‘Poke face‘, or ‘vizard‘, all archaic names for the masks that cover your face.

From Friday, we will all have to wear a mask when shopping; but not in pubs or restaurants. Does this mean that shops and supermarkets will now be scaling back the provisions they have made for social distancing; for example, one-way systems, and restrictions on the number of customers allowed in? Or folks will become more complacent?

And how many will wear one of those ineffective masks with an exhalation valve, or not covering their nose, or even refuse to wear one at all? And with an R rate in the North East currently greater than 1, I can actually see the risk of catching Covid-19 increasing. Life is getting more dangerous and scary.

But this is too depressing, so back to the word ‘mask’.

Another Yorkshire meaning is for your face as in:

Sha’ll tak’ thi mask for tha

which can be translated as ‘She will photograph you‘.

But my favourite meaning is also North country and is to infuse, as of tea or malt. Sir Walter Scott used it in his novel Waverley:

I hope your honours will take tea before ye gang to the palace, and I maun gang and mask it for you.

This is so close to the word ‘mash‘ I use when brewing a pot of tea, that it must have the same root.

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