Parents have a language all of their own. Some phrases we understand, like ‘NO, YOU CAN’T’ and ‘I’M GOING TO COUNT TO TEN’ but there are other things we haven’t a clue about because they don’t make sense. You probably find yourself using the same lingo with your own children because it’s ingrained, innit? You wake up one day and you’ve gone from relatively cool to OH MY GOD, I AM MY MOTHER! It’s a rite of passage of Motherdom, along with droopy boobs and incontinence.
My mother, bless her, had a plethora of phrases that I’d like to share with you readers..
‘Gone For A Burton’
Meaning: A reference to a person who had died or an item that was broken.
First heard at the age of 7 when I limped into the kitchen with a broken strap on my brand new sandals. Mum took a puff on her fag and said, ‘Well. That’s them gone for a Burton then.’ I didn’t know who or what this ‘Burton’ was. Richard Burton was big at the time so it could have been him. All I know is that I cried PROPER TEARS over those wretched sandals because in those days, money was short and I knew I wasn’t going to get another pair anytime soon. *sobs*
Meaning: A rough, unsophisticated countryman.
Since the early 19th century, in the UK and USA, ‘clod-hoppers’ were also the name given to ploughmen’s boots.
Mum used to refer to my eldest brother’s 1970s platform shoes and work-boots as ‘Clod-Hoppers’. My brother would often be greeted at the door with, “And you can take those clod-hoppers off as well, Matey!”
‘Getting On My Wick’
Meaning: Annoy me; get on my nerves.
Usually heard during weekends and school holidays, especially Wimbledon fortnight. Alone, my brother and I were tolerable. Together, we were little shits.
“You two are getting on my wick. Go to the park!”
‘You’ve Blotted Your Copy Book’
Meaning: To do something that makes other people trust you less.
In our case, it was any minor misdemeanor at home or at school. Ink and blotting paper were still a thing in the 70s so I took it quite literally until it was explained to me…
‘Away With The Fairies’
Meaning: Not facing reality; in a dreamworld.
Where Mum thought I always was…
‘Guts For Garters’
Meaning: A threat of a serious reprisal.
“If you come home late, I’ll have your (varying expletives) guts for garters!”
This saying probably originated from the Middle Ages where they liked to disembowel people and stuff.
‘I’ll Give You..’
This one was where, whatever we said to Mum, she would turn it back on us.
Me “I’m bored”
Mum “I’ll give you I’m bored!”
Me “Yeah, in a minute, Mum.”
Mum ” I’ll give you in a minute!”
Mum “I’ll give you why”
You get my drift?
The variation on ‘I’ll give you is I’ll give it you.
Or on hearing me WHISPERING an expletive..
“I’LL BLOODY WELL GIVE IT YOU IN A MINUTE, MY GIRL!”
It meant a wollop on the backside so at this point I’d fly out out through the back door flicking Mum the V’s from inside my coat pocket. She rarely caught me but I would ALWAYS return to find my Jackie mag cancelled, damn it.
‘Because I Said So’
Meaning: the WORST possible person, place, or thing.
In this case, my brother’s bedroom.
Mum to Dad “His bedroom is the bloody pits! Records as coasters and unidentified life-forms in cups? That’s it. I’m on strike!.”
To be fair, it WAS a pit. We’re talking MAJOR BIO-HAZARD here.
‘I’ll Swing For You’
I think I have the album somewhere. Or is it Swing When You Are Winning? Anyhoo. Initially I took this literally and pictured Mum having a fun time on the swings in the local park. I thought this was DEAD FUNNY, albeit highly unlikely. However the imagery didn’t match her frowny expression, so I came to realise that it meant that I’d done something wrong.
Often, a minor expletive would be inserted for dramatic effect so it became “I’ll SODDING well swing for you” Later on I came to realise the origin of the phrase came from HANGING, as hanging was still in fashion in my mother’s day. Mother saying she’d ‘swing’ for us meant that she’d murder us and be hung for her crime. However, she would never have actually murdered us. She wasn’t fast enough for a start. She came close several times – especially during her menopausal years when she was a bit, well, psycho.
Sometimes this phrase was used in jest but mostly we knew we were in deep poo if we heard it and we’d suddenly be incredibly helpful – like doing the dishes without being told or tidying our rooms, including Bro’s ‘pit’.
Occasionally, I catch myself muttering ‘Because I said so’ and I start twitching and have to go shout at some crisp packets as self-punishment. My mother may have passed on her early menopause to me, but there is no way I’m talking like her as well. Why? BECAUSE I SAID SO!
It pays to be as literal as possible when you have an autistic child, trust me. Saves time. Maybe you recoginse a few of these from your own childhoods? Feel free to share!
Next time, Dadisms.