SUPERLATIVE (The Good Words Podcast)

In this episode, Miss Lynn talks about the word, "superlative" with an excerpt from Charles Dickens's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, "Say What?!?" about the expression, "the GOAT," a discussion about ALA book awards with former award committee member Angela Frederick, and the "humorous monologue with piano accompaniment," "Runcorn Ferry."


The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, read by Mil Nicholson on 

Full list of ALA Book, Print & Media Awards ( 

On Being with Krista Tippett:  Sandra Cisneros - A House of Her Own 

"Runcorn Ferry" by Marriott Edgar - performed by Roy Barbour  
(recording on  
(full text on 

On the banks of the Mersey, o'er on Cheshire side,  
Lies Runcorn that's best known to fame  
By Transporter Bridge as takes folks over t'stream,  
Or else brings them back across same. 

In days afore Transporter Bridge were put up,  
A ferryboat lay in the slip,  
And old Ted the boatman would row folks across  
At per tuppence per person per trip. 

One evening, to Ted's superlative surprise,  
Three customers came into view:  
A Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom it were,  
And Albert, their little son, too. 

"How much for the three?" Mr Ramsbottom asked,  
As his hand to his pocket did dip.  
Ted said: "Same for three as it would be for one,  
Per tuppence per person per trip." 

"You're not charging tuppence for that little lad?"  
Said Mother, her eyes flashing wild.  
"Per tuppence per person per trip", answered Ted,  
"Per woman, per man, or per child". 

"Fivepence for three, that's the most that I'll pay",  
Said Father, "Don't waste time in talk".  
"Per tuppence per person per trip", answered Ted,  
"And them, as can't pay, 'as to walk!" 

"We can walk, an' all", said Father. "Come Mother,  
It's none so deep, weather's quite mild".  
So into the water the three of them stepped:  
The father, the mother, the child. 

The further they paddled, the deeper it got,  
But they wouldn't give in, once begun.  
In the spirit that's made Lancashire what she is,  
They'd sooner be drownded than done. 

Very soon, the old people were up to their necks,  
And the little lad clean out of sight.  
Said Father: "Where's Albert?" And Mother replied:  
"I've got hold of his hand, he's all right!" 

Well, just at that moment, Pa got an idea  
And, floundering back to old Ted, He said:  
"We've walked half-way. Come, tak' us the rest  
For half-price, that's a penny a head." 

But Ted wasn't standing for none of that there,  
And, making an obstinate lip,  
"Per tuppence per person per trip", Ted replied,  
"Per trip, or per part of per trip". 

"All right, then", said Father, "let me tak' the boat,  
And I'll pick up the others half-way.  
I'll row them across, and I'll bring the boat back,  
And thruppence in t'bargain I'll pay". 

He got Mother out, it were rather a job,  
With the water, she weighed half a ton,  
Then, pushing the oar down the side of the boat,  
Started fishing around for his son. 

When poor little Albert came up to the top,  
His collar were soggy and limp.  
And, with holding his breath at the bottom so long,  
His face were as red as a shrimp. 

Pa took them across, and he brought the boat back,  
And he said to old Ted on the slip:  
"Wilt' row me across by me'self?" Ted said:  
"Aye, at per tuppence per person per trip". 

When they got t'other side, Father laughed fit to bust.  
He'd got best of bargain, you see.  
He'd worked it all out, and he'd got his own way,  
And he'd paid nobbut fivepence for three!


SUPERLATIVE episode transcript

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