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Friday, November 17, 2006

Nick names and talking in code

I pity the poor people who become involved with my family. As we're prolific divorcers, there have been quite a few over the years. We might appear normal, stoical even; but as soon as you get a group of us together, we start talking in code and everyone has a nickname or two, so only the bravest of newcomers survives.

John is a relative newcomer to the inner circle. He and I have been together now for nearly three years. This weekend we're going down to Plymouth and he'll meet my younger brother Chops and his family for the first time.

Let's start with the nicknames. Why use someone's real name when it's much more fun to think up a name that's more appropriate? Having said that, I can't remember why Chops is Chops, or why my mum is Gizzard. We think it may be a reference to Kenny Everett's character Gizzard Puke (not very flattering!). My elder brother is Snurge, after the villain in Princess Tina comic. My dad was Stamps. He was not a philatelist, but prone to stamping about. There was a character in an Enid Blyton story called Stampabout who was bad-tempered. His sister glued him to the chimney pot (as you do). So that's how Stamps got his moniker. Snurge's girlfriend entered into the whole thing with gusto and has a couple of nicknames, Bunch and The Inspector, the latter because she's keen on DIY and always inspecting things.

I have a couple of nicknames, of course. Chops calls me Gull and Snurge calls me Crone or Bone. Bunch calls me The Baroness (from the Sound of Music). John is still John, although in texts he's become J, so this might stick.

I was just talking to Giz on the phone and in 30 minutes we used several of our "code" references. A lot of these are from Monty Python. We routinely refer to the comfy chair, "never a willow," "I've got my own apron," "be fair Pascal" and "somebody said mattress to Mr Lambert."

We also have a lot of our own made-up expressions. If Giz and I am looking for an eaterie, we have a cautious sniff at the door first. If we say "old fat" in unison, it means that particular establishment will not be enjoying our custom. If someone is grumpy, we say they're Tough Ted (a very long story).

We might refer to "the vessel with the pestle," which comes from one of our favourite films The Court Jester. Snurge, Bunch and I am sadly word perfect with the script of Carry on Camping and will often drop references into conversation. Food and drink does not escape. At Christmas we always have a Magwich (a pork pie, from Great Expectations).

John will be very bemused if Giz and I decide to play Consequences this weekend. This ridiculous game, where a piece of paper is passed between us and we have to identify a man, a woman and what they said and did, is totally incomprehensible to anyone else. The man might be someone like Mr Upty, the made-up name we gave to a man in the 60s who gave some leafleting work to Snurge the schoolboy.

Tomorrow J will meet Chops in that Aladdin's Cave of Christmas decorations, the Endsleigh garden centre. My advice to him would be to ask Chops if he's been doing any pacing (he paces up and down when he listens to music) and if he's bought a new mobile lately. J works in the world of mobiles; Chops is a dream consumer and is forever buying a new one.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hello, pardon this comment being a year too late. I found this whilst searching "never a willow" in Google.
In my social dance circle, you meet a lot of people, but since it's a casual atmosphere, you only learn people's first names. So to distinguish people with the same first names, you have to make up descriptive nicknames.
There is Curly Haired Bob (who is also Viking Bob) and Bandana Bob. Young Mackenzie(aka Hippy Mackenzie), LOL Mackenzie, and Mackenzie who was dating Josh (but is no longer, so we need to find her a new one).
Guy Chris and Girl Chris (aka Mitty, of unclear origin), Fiddler Dave and Photographer Dave (aka Dr Seuss, for his love of the author)
it is wonderful (though I suppose shouldn't be completely surprising)
that other people do it as well.
I've called it the Beowulf/Greek method of indentification. Where you name people by a characteristic
such and such son of So and So who slew that creature, only with modern references

Thanks for reading