Thursday, May 31, 2012
glossary for the misinformed
"Things turn around as quickly as they turn shite," wise words from a friend who knows.
Personal crisis under control for now, (grumble grumble) and have out of this, endeavoured to be more cheerful.
There have been moments when I forget. Londoners by default, aren't cheerful. One week you're wearing a coat, the next you're in a heat wave and sweating like Rupert Murdoch at the Leveson Inquiry, so it's best to just keep everything locked down and solemn.
Yeah, so we're having a heat wave. I've shaved my legs and applied a minimal spray tan, so as not to blind people.
Last week it was 9 degrees, now it's 29. That's how it works here. Everything's extreme. And bloody marvelous, in fact, that the sun is setting at 10pm and it's 25 degrees pretty much until that time.
So in the spirit of trying to be more cheerful, and just a better person in the face of adversity, herewith an English glossary.
I'm still discovering words, or turns of phrase that are foreign to the average newcomer in this town. Just last week I realised that asking for the "nearest ATM" draws blank stares and a "wha?" from strangers. They know what an ATM is, strictly speaking, but it's an American term. English people ask for the nearest cash point see.
It's the Jubilee weekend, the Dove will be in town and then we're heading to..well pretty much Russia by the looks of things.
If you're a Saffa visiting for Queenie's Jubilee celebrations, then best you buff up your vocabulary:
Hiya? - doesn't mean 'howzit', 'how are things,' or 'how are you.' Needs to be asked with intonation at the end, but it's not a question. Pronounced 'hiyah?" It is simply meant as a greeting, and you're meant to respond with 'hiya?' back.
Push chair - A bit like ATM (ref above), this is the common British term for a 'pram.'
I was sat next to - Common British sentences use a version of the past perfect tense, not past progressive. Yes, they have it all wrong here, and they invented this language.
I've had a lot of conversations with the Brit about this. "I was SITTING next to a guy on the tube," as opposed to "I was stood next to a guy on a tube." I never win.
Down the pub - Similar to above. They are wrong, we are right. We use prepositions in most of our sentences, Brits on the street don't. They go down the pub, not down to the pub. "I went down the shop yesterday where a man was sat by the door."
Flapjack - Where I come from, a flapjack means a pancake. Or a sort of crumpetty pancake thingie, but definitely a confectionery made from flour and fried in a pan with shit drizzled on top of it. American style.
A flapjack in England is a crunchie. Just a more...moist one. Crunchies that your granny made, with oats and raisins that she would serve with your tea. A Crunchie here is a strict reference to the actual chocolate bar.
Highway - Saffas obviously get a lot of their vocabulary from watching American TV. Because a highway is strictly American, like ATM and flapjack. When you talk about a dual lane carriageway here, it's referred to as the motorway.
Cushty - or 'cush' (said coosh). You can use it like this: "Hiyah? I managed to get two tickets to comedy evening tonight."
That's cushty. Thanks!
Offy - An offy is the off-license. Exactly like the corner cafe/kaffee back at home, open all hours, sell fags, airtime, chocolates and alcohol. On every street corner. The only difference is that the shop owner isn't Portuguese like at home, he's Pakistani. A cafe - corner or otherwise) is literralleh, a cafe.
Mini-cab - Not to be confused with the standard London 'black cab.' Or shuttle vehicle. A mini cab operates like the off-license, and is often perched on the back end of the off license anyway, or at the very least owned by the same family. Mini cabs are pre-ordered cabs that you can get 24 hours a day, but you pay a flat rate for. They're often cheaper than the standard metered black cab, but a lot less reliable. (read: dodgy as fuck a lot of the time.) You order them through a hole in the wall, by the same guy you just bought a packets of fags from in the off license next door.
Argy-bargy - A fight.
Bespoke - You can get anything here bespoke. Even a Mulberry handbag. (If you're Lana Del Rey.) For the rest of us, it's simply 'custom-made.'
Under the cosh - working one's arss off.
Tea - (Thanks JM!) Used more by people from Oop North, but tea isn't just a cuppa. 'Tea' is actually dinner. I am going to make bangers and mash for my tea. 'Tea' strictly speaking, is a meal...with a cuppa tea.
Cleaner - This is someone who comes to your house once a week to dust, wash and...clean. Not a maid, not a char, not a domestic. It's strictly 'the cleaner.' We have one. She's from Poland.
And obviously never call football soccer, or you'll be ridiculed and possibly killed for being a bit of a dick.
All of the above is courtesy of living with a British man who says these things pretty much all of the time.