Odd Sayings

Swifty

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Some more terms i take (correct me) to be specifically Liverpool based, though they may be falling out of use.

"Soft brush" a not too harsh pejorative noun for someone who is daft or prone to being silly or acting stupid. Less frequently someone who actually is hard of thinking. Typically used from parent to child more than between peers. A variant, possibly harsher, is "soft ollies", ollies being marbles.

The origin is self evident in that soft refers to the condition of their brain. (How there can be such a thing as "soft ollies" is a bit harder to explain)
My Mum grew up in Liverpool in the 60's so I've heard of 'daft as a brush' as well as 'soft as a brush' .
 

Ermintruder

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Where in the UK are you?
North central Scotland. Just below where the very-tall bits are, and above where the reasonably-busy bits are.

I'm sure I've also heard Geordies and Yorkshire volk use the curious 'swit swoo' phrase, as a verbalised version of the wolf-whistle (please tell me you've heard of that...).

And the waggling-one-or-both-hands-like-a-beard-under-one's-chin-whilst-speaking-in-a-high-pitched-mocking-tone.....I really did think that might've come from Blackadder. Maybe that is just a regional Scottish thing. Hmmm.....puzzled.

I used to be down in England a lot, especially the North. And before that, I used to be all over England, occasionally. Apart from the Isle of Wight. Or Shropshire.
 

Eyespy

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That's a new one on me. Urban Dictionary lists it from as far back as 2012, but I've never heard or encountered it before.
It was fairly common in the early 70s in Wiltshire a used by kids who could not whistle trying to attract each other when "Playing Out"
 

LordRsmacker

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My gut feeling is it being of televisual origin...and I become more & more convinced that it may have originated from Father Ted.
It's certainly used in "League of Gentlemen".
Pop (some sort of foreign fellow of unknown origin) is having dinner with his son and son's new girlfriend, Patricia. He says:
"Imagine this – thirty three and still no girlfriend! I used to weep at night, thinking he might be a Mary Queen!"
Patricia: "American?"
Pop: "No! A Mary Queen! A poof! A shit-stabber!" - and then he does the beardy thing.
 

Mungoman

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When I was a lad of 12 I had a mate, David Burton, who was from Liverpool and he could whistle - very loudly - yet, he used a cross between a yodel and a 'tarzan' call to attract his mates in the streets - he reckoned that it was a gang call, and that each gang had their own call.

I must admit that we wouldn't have been seen dead calling 'swit soo', even the girls whistled loudly with fingers or sans fingers. I learnt how to whistle loudly from watrching David Mellon's Mum (interestingly, also from Liverpool) who could be heard all over the neighbourhood if the street lights came on and him and his sister Veronica weren't home yet.
 

hunck

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Reading another thread, it struck me that 'popped his clogs' is an odd phrase & would seem to have little connection with death. On looking it up, it's origin is a mystery & it appears it's only been around since 1970 although it sounds as though it should be older. The first example in print seems to be from Punch magazine of that year.
 

tuco

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My mother used to say, There is a difference between scratching your arse and tearing fucking great chunks out of it, meaning, I think, don't over do it. Might be a south of england thing.
 

EnolaGaia

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Reading another thread, it struck me that 'popped his clogs' is an odd phrase & would seem to have little connection with death. On looking it up, it's origin is a mystery & it appears it's only been around since 1970 although it sounds as though it should be older. The first example in print seems to be from Punch magazine of that year.
This personal comment posted on Quora about the phrase provides an explanation I'd never seen anywhere else ...

Andrew Duly
Answered Sep 8, 2018

In Victorian times, many factory workers would wear clogs, due to malnutrition many would suffer from edema (swollen feet/limbs etc) to the point of death. Many were found with their clogs broken due to the swelling of the feet. Hence the phrase “popped his clogs”.

This information was passed down through generations of my family.
SOURCE: https://www.quora.com/How-did-the-British-phrase-to-pop-one-s-clogs-become-a-euphemism-for-death
 

tuco

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Reading another thread, it struck me that 'popped his clogs' is an odd phrase & would seem to have little connection with death. On looking it up, it's origin is a mystery & it appears it's only been around since 1970 although it sounds as though it should be older. The first example in print seems to be from Punch magazine of that year.
Have you heard the tim vine joke, Met a girl from holland with inflatable shoes, she gave me her phone number but when I phoned her I was told she had popped her clogs.
 

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Ermintruder

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On the face of it, the Victorian feet swelling sounds plausible-ish
It does, yet it doesn't. If someone was so ill, and near to death with swollen limbs, they would be horizontal & in a bed...and clogless.

Also, if someone was suffering from major swellings of the foot, fundamental common-sense and self-evident logic would dictate that they wouldn't be wearing ANY footwear.

Finally- unless someone had paraphlegia or other significant limb nerve loss of sensitivity, how could/would this happen in near-instantaneous time?

I'm going to go with falsified definition, put on my Frank Muir mask & call 'BLUFF'
 
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tuco

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My mother used to say, There is a difference between scratching your arse and tearing fucking great chunks out of it, meaning, I think, don't over do it. Might be a south of england thing.
Now I think of it my mother had a lot of sayings I've not heard anywhere else, but most are racist,sexist or just very offensive.
 

hunck

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It does, yet it doesn't. If someone was so ill, and near to death with swollen limbs, they would be horizontal & in a bed...and clogless.

Also, if someone was suffering from major swellings of the foot, fundamental common-sense and self-evident logic would dictate that they wouldn't be wearing ANY footwear.

Finally- unless someone had paraphlegia or othe significant limb nerve loss of sensitivity, how could/would this happen in near-instantaneous time?

I'm going to go with falsified definition, put on my Frank Muir mask & call 'BLUFF'
Casting aside poverty stricken Victorians hobbling to work off their deathbeds or go hungry, I think I agree with you.
 

EnolaGaia

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Mungoman

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I'm from North Staffs originally, and clogs being mentioned was not an unusual topic of conversation in the kitchen...there was mention of lads deliberately making sparks fly from the brads in the soles, there was mention of being happy enough to do a clog dance, and then there was the proverbial popping of clogs which I got told was from Black Country miners who, if they died down the pit, the tradition was when buried, their clogs were left on top of their graves.

Any road up, that's what I were told it meant.
 

Ermintruder

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there was mention of lads deliberately making sparks fly from the brads in the soles
MATCHSTALK MEN AND MATCHSTALK CATS AND DOGS (Burke / Coleman) Brian & Michael - 1978 said:
He painted Salford's smokey tops On cardboard boxes from the shops And parts of Ancoats where I used to play
I'm sure he once walked down our street Cause he painted kids who had nowt on their feet The clothes we wore had all seen better days.

Now they said his works of art were dull No room, all round the walls are full But Lowry didn't care much anyway
They said he just paints cats and dogs And matchstalk men in boots and clogs And Lowry said that's just the way they'll stay.

And he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs He painted kids on the corner of the street with the sparking clogs
Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them factory gates To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs

Now canvas and brushes were wearing thin When London started calling him To come on down and wear the old flat cap
They said tell us all about your ways And all about them Salford days Is it true you're just an ordinary chap

And he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs He painted kids on the corner of the street with the sparking clogs
Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them factory gates To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs

Now Lowries hang upon the wall Beside the greatest of them all And even the Mona Lisa takes a bow
This tired old man with hair like snow Told northern folk its time to go The fever came and the good Lord mopped his brow

And he left us matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs He left us kids on the corner of the street with sparking clogs Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them pearly gates To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs
As I remember it, the expression was “They popped their clogs & went upstairs”.
This, then, becomes an entirely-reasonable extended metaphor....popped their clogs & went upstairs means 'they removed their shoes and went upstairs to their beds, to sleep'.

That is then a euphemistic slide of meaning into 'going upstairs' ie their souls transcending up to heaven, cf the standard Bringlish/Commonwealth idiom of 'him upstairs' (referring obliquely to God), and "they've passed over/ gone up St Michael's stairs" as a bowdlerised reference to dying.

So again, no podiatric haematomaic shoe-splitting (with the additional caveat that in informal Bringlish, people "pop" off/out/up/in/over all the damn place without almost any connotation to the true substantially-kinetic literal meaning of the plosive monosyllable)

Fred Dibnah
Eee Up, all hail the Fred!
 
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Gloucestrian

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There's a point - i don't know if the use of the adjective "soft" on its own is also local or, as imagined until this moment, in general use. But at any rate "don't be soft!" is used frequently as an alternative to daft or stupid.
"Soft in the head" quite commonly heard in these parts for the same meaning. There seems to be a surfeit of people who might be reasonably described as such too!
 

Krepostnoi

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Growing up in post-industrial Yorkshire, and being a New Model Army fan, I've taken perhaps a closer than usual interest in clogs. I was always led to believe that "popping your clogs" was a reference to the widow's habit of pawning her dead husband's clogs, so as to get at least a bit of cash back. After all, it wasn't like he'd need them anymore. Therefore "pop" loosely equals "pawn".

ETA this is supported by the very first suggestion Google, um, popped up.
 

Gloucestrian

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That explains something that I have wondered about for years. In the area I grew up there was a sort-of corner shop that people referred to as the "pop shop" but as a kid I found it odd as they didn't sell pop i.e. carbonated drinks. I guess now that people pawned stuff to pay for essentials.
 

hunck

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Growing up in post-industrial Yorkshire, and being a New Model Army fan, I've taken perhaps a closer than usual interest in clogs. I was always led to believe that "popping your clogs" was a reference to the widow's habit of pawning her dead husband's clogs, so as to get at least a bit of cash back. After all, it wasn't like he'd need them anymore. Therefore "pop" loosely equals "pawn".

ETA this is supported by the very first suggestion Google, um, popped up.
Ah, that ties in with Pop Goes The Weasel, which according to one theory refers to poor folk pawning possessions for a bit of cash. Weasel being cockney rhyming slang for coat - weasel & stoat.

I still think that if it were that old there would likely be examples in print, which there aren't prior to 1970.
 

escargot

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Ah, that ties in with Pop Goes The Weasel, which according to one theory refers to poor folk pawning possessions for a bit of cash. Weasel being cockney rhyming slang for coat - weasel & stoat.

I still think that if it were that old there would likely be examples in print, which there aren't prior to 1970.
An explanation I quite like is that a 'weasel' is a hat maker's tool which would need to be 'popped' or pawned in hard times.
 

FelixAntonius

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Charlie Chaplin mentions in his biography, how Sunday clothing was pawned on the Monday, to provide money to survive the week, only for it to be redeemed on the Friday, when wages were paid. Only for the cycle to be repeated...........
 

Frideswide

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Each town, each village, is an encyclopedia...There is a lot to be said about being part of an area's heritage.
This :oldm:

I think it relates to why folklore/myths and their transmisssion and development is an enduring area of interest to me.

How can one class somehting as fortean if one doesn't know what the natural background looks like?
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

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I am somewhat perplexed, because... despite being in the over 40 age-bracket neither I nor Mr Zebra have ever heard of this:

What is the origin (and indeed meaning) of the (possibly Bringlish-only) term swit-swoo?
May be UK only, then, as I suspected. Exceedingly-common in the over-40s, and rare between Brits of lesser years.

It's a semi self-parody of a statement, a partially-grudging compliment of necessity, frequently in the context of someone who's polished-up well (somewhat-unexpectedly, perhaps) or looks disproportionately-attractive in new (or indeed no) clothing.

.. or this:

On a related note....what the bloody hell is that weird thing that British people over 40 do when they make a dangly beard/tentacles shape with their inverted hands under their chins, and say in a mocking high-pitched voice "Ooooh!!! Look at how he thinks he's a ______" (or something like that).

It's a strange little understood (well, replicated) behavioural glitch, a gestalt shared shaming....action.

I bet a large sum of non-possessed money that this is mainly a British & Irish thing. Which makes me suddenly wonder if it might be a Father Tedism....or Blackadderism.....?
:conf2:
 
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