WHY I AM AN OLD CODGER
By Emeritus Archon
Mrs. Upshall, and my fellow Grade Four classmates
What is a codger? I bet you thought that I knew everything about English language words. I know I did!
The same extinct British TV show which brought us the word manky, as well as the more recent phrase, ‘Stone the Crows,’ also recently taught me why I am an old codger. I have accepted (bitched about it – but accepted) that I am old, since I turned 60 – but, codger?
In ancient times – and not-so-ancient times – birds of prey were important to royalty and nobility as a symbol of swift, destructive power. Eagles, hawks and falcons were common on heraldry and coats of arms. The bigger the dick lord, the more birds he might own. A king could have 15 or 20.
Each and every one of them must be exercised every day, by the bird trainer. They must be taken away from the castle where they roost, to an open patch of ground, so that they can be flown, one at a time, trained to attack prey, and brought back to the trainer, using a bait, swung around and tossed into the air at the end of a stout cord.
That’s the trainer’s job, but whose job was it to get all these birds to and from the castle – and how? A device called a cadge was invented (See above photo). It’s like a small end table with no top, and upholstered rails for birds to cling to. It has shoulder straps to support the weight when a person stands inside it. 10 to 20 birds, at three or four pounds each, can be quite a load.
Strong young men were better employed for other uses. It was usual for older men to tote this thing around. Dictionaries are not sure where the name cadge came from. Some feel that it originally might have been ‘cage.’ Others, (which I agree with) feel that it’s a development of ‘carriage.’ The poor lout who got burdened with it became known as a cadger. Pronunciation drift eventually changed that to codger.
So, that’s the story of how I came to be what I am – a flighty old man, forced to help support and train a bunch of bird-brains. I come by my title of Grumpy Old Dude, honestly. 😉