Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Glossary for my youth

As the kids are growing up I'm doing more and more things with them that I last did in my own childhood. As a consequence I find myself using words that I've hardly used for decades - and which seem obscure to some of my contemporaries. Only last week I had to explain to a London friend what a 'snotty-dog' was, having the day before gone on a hunting expedition with my eldest.

I therefore thought I'd put together a glossary, but one covering the whole of my youth so I could engage in a little reminiscence. Some of these words might be familiar to readers but I would guess not all. They are a mixture of the archaic, juvenile, regional, Welsh and colloquial.

'Ark at 'e: Listen to him
Barley top: Bitter in pint glass topped up with barley wine
Brawd: Brother
Brown top: Bitter in pint glass topped up with brown ale
Bum suck: Wet the end while taking drag from shared cigarette
Bungee: Rubber eraser
Buwch: Cow. Can be used to call them.
Caewch y drws: Close the door
Cooler king: Steve McQueen
Crachach: Welsh well-to-do
Dab: Smallest of all flatfish
Daps: Plimsoll shoes
Diddakoi: Half-gypsy, misused as synonym of gypsy
Dobber: Large marble
Dubbin: Greasy wax used to protect boots
Duff up: Beat someone repeatedly in jocular manner
Flattop: Crew cut featuring a flat top
Green monster: Snakebite (see below) with green chartreuse
Harrington: Blouson jacket with tab collar, tartan lining
Light top: Bitter in pint glass topped up with light ale
Meadow: Field behind primary school gardens
Mop: Annual town fair
Muck: Wet mortar
Mochyn Budr: Filthy pig (affectionate)
Nain: Grandmother
Narg: Overly studious student
Open-side wing-forward: Number seven in rugby team, aka flanker
Purple nasty: Snakebite (see below) with blackcurrant cordial
R'ared up: Become angry
Reynard: Fox
Rolly: A roll-up cigarette
S&B: Village youths engaging in regular misdemeanours
Snakebite: Half-pint of cider and half-pint of lager, mixed
Snob: Someone good at schoolwork (pejorative)
Snotty-dog: Small, ugly, inedible river fish that lives under stones
Summut: Something
Taid: Grandfather
Teart: Wild, unmanageable
Tonics: Trousers made from two-toned weave
Tump: Hill
Twp: Mad, stupid
Two-step: Dance associated with ska
Wapses: Wasps
Ych a fi: Expression of disgust


Kevin Musgrove said...

I'm amazed how many of those are like-for-like in the Manchester of my youth. Our snotty-dogs were bullheads and I'm not sure you'd want to know about bumsucking in a polite blog like this.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ah, Mr Gaw, you seem to be from the same mod-revival generation as myself (or else from the original one).

Did you also have "jaspers" (wasps), "scrumping" (stealing apples from an orchard) and "johnnies" or "noddies" (condoms)?

Hey Skipper said...

As an American, I am completely at sea.

Despite having spent seven years in the UK.

Kevin Musgrove said...

johnies, noddies and wee little caspars, Gadjo.

and just to freak the Skipper out (sorry!), I'll admit to playing knock up ginger in the street

Gaw said...

Kev: I've got a couple of friends from the North West and there seems to be some commonality in colloquial words between there and South Wales/Welsh borders. For instance, 'bomper', meaning 'big and bouncy' and usually applied to babies. I should have included this one in my glossary given I was a fat, buddha-like babby.

Gadj: I'm of the mod/ska re-tread generation. At the time the original one seemed to have happened an age before. Looking back it seems to have happened far too recently to deserve a revival. Perhaps time passed more slowly back then. Ska was just a fantastic thing, was it not?

We had these words too with the exception of 'noddies'. Also we tended to use the more formal and resonant 'rubber johnny'.

Skip: If only you'd had a glossary like this on hand when you'd lived here! You could have spent every weekend bum-sucking snotty-dogs whilst wearing your barley-top tonics. Or summat like that.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ska was the most fantastic thing, Mr Gaw. I'm now a serious enthusiast for Ukrainian and Russian ska, which is usually played very fast on brass and folk music instruments and has a life all of it's own.

I'm not sure what "wee little caspars" are, Kev - you've confounded me yet again!

Gaw said...

Sounds a bit like the Negresses Vertes? I'm surprised that ska is flourishing over there as I've always found the Slavs to be Metallists of one sort of another and not really receptive to black-influenced music. Eurovision has tended to confirm this prejudice. Hopefully ska will work its magic and enlighten the Slav nation.

Can you recommend some and I'll try to listen to it on LastFM or YouTube?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Negresses Vertes were (and maybe still are) a fine band indeed, but the stuff coming out of St Petersburg and Western Ukraine definitely has more of a ska backbeat. It's got a hard punky edge too, so may not be recognisable to the locals as "negroid music", I dunno. I would recommend Perkalaba and Haydamaky to you.