Friday Fictioneers : Owt or Nowt?


PHOTO PROMPT © Kelvin M. Knight


The sun squatted low, puffs of apricot cloud still bubbling along the horizon. The colours brought to mind summer, despite the cold that had snuck into her boots.

Edith waited patiently outside the bakers for a loaf, a roll or perhaps a chunk of parkin too misshapen or overcooked to grace the shining tables of Clifton. She wasn’t particular – a full stomach for a ha’penny was hard to come by these days.

The baker’s boy tugged the door with meaty fingers. ‘Nowt today.’ The door slammed, snapping off his words.

Sleeping rough was always colder on an empty stomach.


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and read the other tales.

If you’re wondering what ‘parkin’ is, look here. And if you’re wondering what ‘nowt’ means … why, it’s the opposite of ‘owt’ of course! Nowt meaning nothing or naught and owt meaning anything – Northern English slang dropped down from the Old Norse and still very much alive up north and in our house, we being defected Northerners! So when someone asks is there ‘owt or nowt’ they’re saying is there ‘anything or nothing’.


61 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers : Owt or Nowt?

  1. I like where you went with the prompt. I felt her optimism wafting on the apricot clouds, then all hope was chopped off by the slamming of the door. It left a hole in my heart. Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, glad you saw that! I had in mind a period story, though no one else seems to have read it that way. 1910 would be a good fit for what I had in my head too. Thank you Alicia 🙂


    1. Thank you Dale! Finding new words is always great, though you’d probab;y have to stop and explain yourself if you used it in conversation – living in South West England, I find I have to do that if I use ‘owt’ or ‘nowt’ at work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Why, of course I know what parkin is (because my knowledge is arcane and mostly not very useful in real life settings) so I was pleased to see it mentioned. Poor Edith, hoping for parkin and getting nowt. Better luck tomorrow — or even better, coming off the streets by then.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I dated a man with a British mother (he was born in the States) and acquired the taste for several British foods that way. I don’t think I knew about Parkin until I went to a restaurant in (I think) Philadelphia that specialized in traditional New England food. As always, I asked them for the most unusual foods they had, and ended up with parkin: yum! I have a recipe around here somewhere that I’ve been meaning to try, and it’s almost fall…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Can you remember what other foods you took a liking to – intrigued 🙂 Yes, it’s something I miss, being coeliac. Must see if I can find a gluten free parkin recipe before Bonfire Night 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hm, mostly foods you can’t eat, and I can’t eat much of (now that I’m diabetic and low-carb) — like Yorkshire pudding, bread and butter pudding, shepherd’s pie, and scones (she didn’t make them, but had a good bakery for those). She made some sort of treacle cake, but I don’t know if it was the traditional one. And I swear there was something in aspic too… Mm, now I’m getting hungry!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wow! It all sounds lovely. Was just reminiscing with someone today about my nan’s cooking – very ‘British’ and stodgy (meat pudding and rice pudding and shortbread) but she was darned good at it. Brit food has had a bad reputation – often deservedly – but when it’s done well …

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ve always liked British food; but then, I’ve always like most other foods too. I just like food… Plus I love the British terms, like bubble and squeak, and bangers and mash, and toad in the hole. We had our own totally different dish we called toad in a hole growing up, which I also really liked (and which frankly looks more like a toad in a hole, lol!).

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ha! We do have some colourful names for food don’t we, though not necessarily appestising ones! What was your toad in the hole made from? Have you seen or tried Stargazy Pie? Now, there’s a food with a name nicer than it looks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Wow, thanks for the tip — no, I had never heard of Stargazy Pie, and what an excellent story behind it! I’ve also never seen a pie with fish heads sticking out of it. I like the story in Wikipedia about how the Devil went to Cornwall, decided that the Cornish will put *anything* in a pie, and left before they decided to make Devilly Pie. 🙂 Other than the fish heads sticking out, the pie sounds pretty yummy to me. Mmm, fish and potato

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Yes, not sure why the heads are necessary, other than to give it such a brilliant name! Mind you, it makes sure nothing is wasted I suppose. Love any story that has the Devil on the run makes me smile, especially if they involve a local landmark, a huge rock formation or something. Love the Devilly Pie idea 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Every time I visit your site, you seem to have become more poetic. You grab the readers attention with a puff of apricot cloud, and you hold it to the end. This is beautiful, and at the same time, heartrending.

    It’s odd – I saw something this evening that could be described as an apricot cloud, though it was more like an angry sweet-potato threat hiding in the depths of cloud. getting ready to explode. It looked lovely, but felt sinister.

    Liked by 3 people

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