Life Chez Dee Episode #53: My sesquipedalian blog
Happy Hump Day! I keep seeing this EVERYWHERE. In shops, cafes and certainly all over social media. I have to say, and here I go again with my naivety, I was a little shocked … a little wide eyed that this term was being used. I actually thought it was something a little risqué, someone was planning a bit of “How’s your father” that evening, or maybe they’d been up to a bit of something … a bit more than canoodling the night before. I saw it again today … people using this expression, people who I really didn’t think would be broadcasting this sort of thing all over social media. I googled it. Phew. What a relief that it’s an innocent term which refers to the middle of the week, usually a Wednesday. I suppose it’s like travelling down a road over a humpback bridge, the road being the week, and the bridge being at the middle, so when you reach the brow or hump of the bridge you’re midway. Am I the only one who didn’t know what this term meant? And when did this expression start being used? It got me thinking, of so many expressions which are used which people probably don’t have a clue about.
I love the use of words both spoken and written, I love hearing descriptive narrative, and I love the use of unusual and uncommon words, idioms and expressions too. I know I use lots on a regular basis … “actions speak louder than words”, “kettle calling the pot black”, “it’s costing an arm and a leg”, “kill two birds with one stone”, “biting off more than you can chew”, “letting the cat out of the bag” and “flogging a dead horse”. All of these fitting perfectly with whatever message I’m trying to get over at the time; an expression comes to mind and “Bob’s your Uncle”, you’ve summed things up nicely. I was congratulated for using the word pernickety in a recent blog of mine. I was over the moon that someone thought it worthy enough to give me a pat on the back, although I couldn’t help feeling that it wasn’t really deserved since it’s a word I commonly use. I promised to write about some of my words and expressions … and here we are on Hump Day doing just that.
I saw a recent post on social media … a list of words which don’t seem to be used nowadays, and I looked through the list and felt rather puzzled. There were only about two words on that list which I didn’t use. I’d grown up with these words used regularly, and really thought nothing of them. My mum used them, my grandma used them, and hence having grown up using these terms I frequently use them myself. But I realise now that many others don’t use these words. Of course my children know all about them as I so often use them.
I’m probably not making myself very clear so I’ll illustrate this a little. I’m pernickety … never tried to hide that. I look for the detail in things, I’ll get upset or frustrated if every detail isn’t as it should be … it bothers me … in the work that I do, in my writing, in jobs which over the years Justin or my Dad have done for me inside and outside the house. Would some say OCD, I don’t think so … it’s not a ritualised pickiness … it’s being pernickety ... me wanting things just so.
I rush round in a morning getting the boys ready for school, college, getting my stuff ready … you get the picture … the usual morning chaos. Being a mum, and that’s what I’m putting it down to, you’re usually doing 25,000 jobs all at once and your mind is all over the place with thinking about all that’s happened recently, the task in hand, as well as thinking about what’s happening after school with the logistics of getting the kids to different places, whilst cooking tea … aaarrggh what even is for tea. It’s tea in our house. Justin doesn’t call it tea .. he says dinner … well he is a southerner. I say breakfast, dinner and tea, he however, argues that it is Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. No its not, if it was lunch then you wouldn’t get dinnerladies working in schools … I rest my case.
The morning kerfuffle sends my brain into meltdown. “Don’t forget your thingamajig! Get the “whatchamacallit”? Will you stop mythering? Come on, I can’t be doing with any more of this dillydallying; hurry up, we need to skedaddle. I know I’m not the only one, I put it down to mum’s brain syndrome (I’m sure it must be a condition) … sometimes I can’t even get the boys names out. I shout William when I mean to say Oliver, I say Oliver when I mean to call William, I still shout Edward sometimes when I’m calling Oliver, or sometimes he gets called one of the cats’ names Nico, or Claude, or Pablo, and sometimes the cats get called Oliver! I fret and fuss about William getting up on time … I am still at a loss as to why he doesn’t set his alarm when he’s got to catch the bus to college, and with only 15 minutes to go before he’s got to be at that bus stop, I’m on tenterhooks as to whether he’s going to be able to get ready, bag packed and walk to the bus stop in time … he has managed it so far even if it has been by the skin of his teeth!
With the morning shenanigans out of the way, I’m usually ready for a cuppa, my usual order of milky tea as I’m spitting feathers. I’ve skipped breakfast in all the palaver and my stomach thinks my throat’s cut.
So then you put dialect in the mix and it’s even more interesting. I brew tea. I like a brew or a cuppa. I have heard it said that some people mash tea … I don’t know if that’s particular to certain areas … I don’t know if it’s a Yorkshire thing, whereas I’m a Lancashire Lass through and through.
When I’m prattling on about stuff to Justin, he sometimes has a puzzled look on his face, like he’s thinking, and I wonder if he’s not heard what I’ve said, but over the years we’ve been together I’ve come to realise that he’s probably just pondering and trying to work out the meaning behind what I’m saying; trying to work out and decipher some of the Lancashire accent which comes out. Sometimes he looks at me like he hasn’t the foggiest what I’m talking about, as if I’m speaking a foreign language. It may not be strong, but I definitely have an accent. The boys as they were learning to talk picked up on both our accents and have a bit of a mix. William and Oliver say “grass”, “glass”, “bath” with the short “a” sound, which they’ve copied from me, whereas Edward would say these words with the longer “aa” sound in them … the southern version … obviously copying Justin more than myself.
Same with the “u” sound. Mine is a dull, yet firm “u”, whereas it would sound more like “o” if Justin said it. Years ago when I first met Justin I’d asked him if he’d booked some tickets … can’t remember what for now … but anyway I’d said “Did you book it?” He looked puzzled. He’d heard “Did you bucket?” This went on for a bit, both of us repeating the other. We got there in the end … and he had indeed booked the tickets!
Accents are fascinating, dialect is fascinating. I think it’s wonderful how you can travel all round the country and listen to the idiosyncratic accents, dialects and expressions. The Geordie accent is wonderful, as is Scouse, Brummie I’m not as keen on, and to listen to cockney rhyming slang takes a bit of concentration but I find particularly brilliant and entertaining.
I remember years ago going on a business trip to Munich. The Americans we were with were fascinated by my accent (even though I don’t really think I have a strong one); they were certainly fascinated by some of my sayings and expressions though like “Trouble at Mill”, “Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs” … I do say the former, but the latter was one which was thrown into the mix to illustrate some northern expressions.
I’m flummoxed by technology, and so often bamboozled when Justin and William try and talk me through things. And they don’t have an easy job when I describe my computer problems to them using my unhelpful descriptive language. Fixing the whatsit on the oojamaflip isn’t an easy task for them. Are there more? You bet there are. So often have they been used when I listen to all the codswallop and gobbledygook which the children have come out with over the years, but I can’t actually finish before I’ve given mention to Gordon Bennett. Who was Gordon Bennett? I have no idea who Gordon Bennett was, and I wonder, if he was famous for something, if he’d be turning in his grave about his name being used and living on this way.
Edward used to say this loads, and rather shockingly from a very early age. I remember on a day out to Beamish Museum … Edward was only a whippersnapper, I think only about five years old. We were waiting for one of the buses to arrive to transport us to another part of the open air museum … but we’d just missed one and had to wait about 20 mins for the next to arrive. Gordon Bennett he says in such a loud voice that it causes people nearby to turn and look. I have to say we were all pretty flabbergasted and taken aback at this, and turned to throw “a look” in my Dad’s direction. He’ll deny it of course, but I know for sure that he’d picked up this expression from my Dad, who has said this for as long as I can remember … when things go wrong, aren’t going to plan, or sometimes to indicate shock or surprise at something; and if he was particularly gobsmacked it would change to “Gordon Stinking Rotten Bennett”.
Blinkin’ heck … it’s probably time to bring my rather verbose sesquipedalian midweek musings to an end. So until my next blog I’ll bid you farewell, say ta-ra, and wish you all a Happy Hump Day.