Archive for May 29th, 2006

Honkin’ Down The Highway

I’m sure everyone has received one of those jaw-shatteringly boring e-mails about what our generation did when we were kids, and how today the kids are fat and useless etc blah blah. Well, this evening I spied a young girl about ten years old do something that I did when I were a young ‘un, but had long since forgotten about.

I was driving past a few kids assembled at the bus stop, and one of them started making a gesture with her arm to indicate she was blowing an imaginary lorry horn. Normally the driver who is greeted by this gesture is required to reciprocate with a doot of the horn, but I was rather dozy, and didn’t realise what she was up to until I was nearly past the bus stop, by which point she had already flipped me the middle finger.

Still, I thought that it was pretty cool to see that some traditions endure. This one must be thirty years old at least.


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Learn To Speak Foreign Foulmouth

Those of you aspiring to be potty-mouthed in another language could do worse than check out the BBC’s audio guide to swearing in Spanish. It is the communion wafer.

Hay Zeus

I wrote 11 months ago that hay fever was giving me grief. As yet, I haven’t been affected at all this year, even though I’ve been out mowing grass and gamboling generally amid the flowers and tree blossoms. Yesterday I wondered if I had been mysteriously cured, perhaps through some unwitting contact with a Padre Pio glove, or a rabbit’s foot. I may have been lulled into a false sense of security, however. The Guardian says that today is when all the itchin and the bitchin’ begins.

Och Aye

This interview with Seamus Heaney was as interesting as an interview with Seamus Heaney can get. I was struck by this bit:

Heaney, who has always felt at home with Scots vernacular takes a
different line. “I always said that when I met MacDiarmid, I had met a great
poet who said ‘Och’. I felt confirmed. You can draw a line from maybe Dundalk
across England, north of which you say ‘Och’, south of which you say ‘Well,
dearie me’. In that monosyllable, there’s a world view, nearly.”

Och, he’s right, you know. Och is one of these words that if you didn’t grow up using it, it can be very hard to use idiomatically (assuming, of course, that you’d actually want to use it). You’ll sound funny doing it. Like when English people try to talk about crack/craic.

Och would you look at the cut of thon crater there with the shoes on back to front. Och, I dunno, I’d say about 25 stone. Och I’ve just gone and cut the top of my finger off. Och I’d say another clean shirt will do him. Och, I’m running out of examples.

Where an ‘Och’ appears, you can be sure that an ‘Aye’ will soon follow.

‘Aye’ is another word whose everyday use only takes place above Heaney’s imaginary line. Sometimes I say ‘aye’ in Dublin, because it is another way of saying ‘yes’, and people smile and repeat it back to me, lustily – ‘Ayyygghhe!’- as if they too had been complicit in some pre-modern act of rapine and barbarism.

North of the line, ‘aye’ is not entirely acceptable. If you respond ‘aye, miss’ to your schoolteacher, you may receive a reprimand. People who say it are aware that there are some situations where it is not entirely appropriate. I remember a friend of mine telling me how his sleep was disrupted one night by grunting of ‘aye!’ in the next room, in what seemed to be a crude homage to Je T’Aime (Moi non plus).

I quite like using it, especially in polite conversation with yes-men. It can serve as a bludgeoning retort to some Enlightenment-inspired flight of fancy. Aye right = it’s all very well for you to say that here in your nicely carpeted Hampstead apartment, but back in the tooth-and-claw rough-and-tumble of The Real World, things are somewhat different.

News Comme Il Faux

I was having a break – a KitKat – and I came across this story about ‘fake news stories’:

Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American
television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration
and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake
news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies’

I guess the bloggers who blather on about the lying mainstream media were right. Luckily, bloggers are incorruptible. Sipping my Coke, which I am told is very good for unblocking drains and stomach upsets, I pondered the possibility of unscrupulous and lazy bloggers relaying fake news stories, corporate propaganda dressed up as scientific surveys, and talking up products for financial gain. I guess this needs a bit more thought and a longer post to do the idea justice. It looks like I’ll be supplementing my mental faculties with some Berocca and Marlboro Lights to get the old creative juices going.

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May 2006