Things have changed in England: from worship and warfare to time out and tourism



The coffee shop is in full swing in the church crypt café, where a skinny latte, a chocolate muffin and a quick session on the iPad make pleasant alternatives to the Sunday service going on in the church above.  And at the castle, once the scene of bloody battles, torture and imprisonment, children now skip along through the holograms and 4D entertainment straight into the dungeon gift shop, to purchase tins of fudge and polystyrene swords.

Extracted from The Oddball English, by Annie Harrison.

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English aristocrats – summed up by upper class items


The list below may offer an insight into the lives of upper class people with old money.

Moats, Mayfair address, ancestral portraits, difficult probates, 

salmon-fishing beat on the country estate,

getting drunk then naked, golly gosh! frightfully posh,

Henley Royal Regatta, Condé Nast Traveler, opera at La Scala,

Tatler, Turnbull & Asser, wine cellar,

beagles, Harrod’s Food Hall, Queen Charlotte’s Ball,

bespoke Kenyan safaris, Sotherby’s, death duties,

Klosters heli-ski, VIP, Lord Snooty, livery company

private library, loyal ghillie, ancient Bentley, raised by Nanny,

a pair of Purdeys, grand piano with ivory keys,

Courvoisier, Perrier-Jouet,

foie gras, one always travel first class,

land-owning, fagging, shagging, debagging,

deer stalking, deer rutting, buggering, butling, fox hunting,

the English summer season is quite exhausting,

three-day eventing, many tenants renting,

finishing school, unheated art deco pool,

Latin-spouting, parkland with lake and fountain,

costly divorce, spring water bottled at source,

old school tie, Eton or Harrow?

Guards’ Polo, Savile Row, Ferragamo, Tally Ho!

roaming peacocks, Swiss safety deposit box,

Haw, haw, haw! ha-ha fence,

top English school although rather dense,

‘Spent £30,000 at the charity auction -

can’t remember what I bought.’

many hangers-on requiring financial support,

Boodle’s Club full of old farts, ‘Let’s winter in St Barths’

Girls in pearls, Viscount, Earl,

Knight, Dukedom,

knowing the whereabouts of Lord Lucan,

Sloane Ranger, Fortnum’s hamper,

‘Who called me a toffee-nosed wanker?’

Annabel’s, House of Lords, owning real swords,

smoking jacket, coat of arms, tenanted farms,

royal godparents, a series of spouses, shooting grouse,

born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth,

debutants, duelling pistols, chauffeured Bristol,

memorial wing at the gallery, non-executive salaries,

sporting tweed-clad gamblers,

absolute loathing of ramblers,

po-faced, taxman-chased, showing hoi-polloi distaste,

riding to hounds, wildlife park in the grounds,

silk cravat, assets valued at millions of pounds,

Sunday Times Rich List, in the Bullingdon Club getting pissed,

box at Lord’s, black Labradors, plus fours,

well-spoken decrepit bores,

David Cameron, fashionably thin, Tim Nice But Dim,

not having email or a sense of humour,

sexual impropriety and lurid rumour,

Lloyd’s member, Range Rover,

Coutts, croquet, valet, patron at the ballet,

 shooting stick with a silver tip,

always maintaining a stiff upper lip,

old boys’ network, classical concert in one’s park,

family seat, organically-farmed rare breeds meat,

Boris Johnson, City connections, banking pensions,

one’s own charitable foundation, vintage car collection,

bastard children, bequeathing old masters to the nation,

royal wedding invitation,

off to boarding school at six years old,

a vast stately home which is always cold,

blue blood, mares at stud,

Lloyd’s name, shooting game,

wayward offspring doing cocaine,

hereditary peer, in Barbados for New Year,

‘He has to marry although he’s queer’,

Aston Martin, racehorses in training,

tweed cap for when it’s raining, extravagant entertaining,

public tours of the ancestral home,

painting by Stubbs on National Gallery loan,

ponzi scheme, trust fund, family fortune almost moribund,

St Tropez with celebrity friends having fun,

pheasant shoot – ‘Have the game-keeper clean my gun’,

bloodlines close – very inbred,

King Charles I once slept in this bed,

Patek Philippe, marquee reception in the castle keep,

never shopped in Sainsbury’s or travelled on a bus,

Pétrus, ‘PLU darling – people like us’,

Where’s Jeeves?  large bronze statue stolen by thieves,

Ascot with the royal party, orangery, Liberty, topiary,

walled kitchen garden and keeping bees,

sailing in the West Indies, family tree traced back to 1293,

Not at all like Downton Abbey,

Trumper, Garrard, in the drawing room playing charades,

secret funds in the Bahamas (undisclosed amount),

alpacas and llamas, Swiss bank account,

The CLA Game Fair, ‘Air hair lair’,

at least two sons – a heir and a spare,

Steiff teddy bear, ‘More jugged hare?’

sycophants everywhere, 

hoping to breed a Derby-winning colt,

too late – dead and buried in the family vault.

©   Annie Harrison June 2012.   Extracted from, ebook The Oddball English.

Not to be reproduced without permission from the author.

Watch this:   Gap Yah.


English working class – summed up through stuff

Below is a list of things, which, on occasions, might be associated with the working class.


ASDA, Aldi, Argos, amusement arcades, Alton Towers,

Adidas leisure clothing, rap, gaming apps, artificial flowers,

angling in city lakes, celebrity worship, Greggs’ cream cakes,

council homes, garden gnomes, payday loans,

pay-as-you-go mobile phones,

Lidl, furry dice, cut-price,

minimum wage, Chas & Dave,

whelks and crab sticks,

malt vinegar on chips, World Cup 1966,

chat room dross, Torremolinos, candy floss, factory closure = job loss,

Coronation Street, Heat, mechanically-reclaimed meat,

England football team, slot machines,

 The Birdie Song, salad cream, lottery dreams,

piers, drug-related crime fears, kids with pierced ears,

daytime TV, Page 3, Wii, KFC, WWE, QVC, OMG,

teenage pregnancy, possible redundancy,

home entertainment gadgetry, pre-paid electricity,

The Royle Family, large plasma screen LG,

Gavin and Stacey, get to the boot fair early,

army, builders’ tea, Labour Party, Del and Rodney,

mushy peas, where’s the rent money?

plastic front doors, soccer scores,

East Enders, Tommy Hilfiger, Ginsters,

polyester, Jobcentre, Harvester,

plug-in air fresheners, blue collar, lager,

forklift truck, flying ducks, hoodies, scratch card luck,

Wayne Rooney, English food on foreign holidays, take-away,

 budgerigars, pimped up cars, 4214% typical APR,

Bargain Booze, white shoes, tattoos, stretch limos,

cash for gold, Cheryl Cole, the dole,

snooker halls, overalls, market stalls, horse-drawn funerals,

Sunny Delight, Carpetright,

rooftop Christmas lights, teenage boxing fights,

National Express, BMX, Artex,

The Only Way is Essex, misspelled texts,

Times is hard, Vicky Pollard,

Okey Cokey, karaoke,

Jordan, The Cash Shop, hip hop, bus stops, alcopops,

darts, Primark, skate parks, loan sharks,

leather sofas bought on credit, labour market,

pork pie hat, high vis jacket, Alf Garnett, ladettes, ‘innit?’

turkey twizzlers, Domino’s Pizza, Puzzler, Rizlas,

out on the razz with the lads, reruns of Jerry Springer,

dodgems, net curtains, pigeons, Slag! Bint! Minger!

chip butty with curry sauce,

down the betting shop to win on a horse,

ferrets, whippets, working men’s clubs,

‘Luv, goin’ down the pub?’

Umbro, fatso, dipso, bingo, ASBO, Tango, Tesco Value,

single mums, fairground fun, Blue Nun, The Sun,

‘Get the barber to do an all over No 1′,

white vans, fake tans, football fans, static caravans,

Iceland, Matalan, Poundland, brass band, tea at Nan’s,

pebbledash, pie and mash, work for cash,

Deal or No Deal, McDonald’s Happy Meal, jellied eels,

XBox, X Factor participating,

acrylic clothing, bowling, bling, stock car racing,

community hall, sod all,

manual worker, Wonga, Kerry Katona,

Pot Noodle, china poodle,

Posh and Becks, Ant and Dec, don’t take cheques,

Jeremy Kyle, acrylic nails, closing down sale, Boddington’s ale,

tool bags, WAGs, packet of fags,

England flag, unions, Billy Bragg,

chippy, ‘Oi, don’t get lippy!’

pawn, porn, brawn, pint of prawns, Benidorm,

Blackpool, Margate, ‘It’s sorted, mate’,

Butlins, Home Bargains, Shameless, pampas grass,

launderette, greyhounds bet, jobs under threat,

allotment shed, white sliced bread,

Britain’s Got Talent, being tenants,

Working Tax Credits allowance, worried about immigrants,

Post Office account, pay credit card minimum amount,

on the breadline, Buckfast tonic wine, soap opera storylines,

Ratners is now called Gerald Online,

kiss me quick, Spotted Dick, David Cameron makes me sick.

  ©   Annie Harrison June 2012.   Extracted from, ebook The Oddball English.  Not to be reproduced without permission from the author.

English middle class can’t do without….



Earl Grey, Coldplay, skiing in Verbier, latte, yay!

British Airways, fair trade, Mark Warner holidays,

BUPA, brunch, credit crunch, meet for lunch,

Amazon, camping at Whitsun, Cath Kidston,

Wimbledon, Classic FM, house prices sliding again,

farmers’ market,,

cookery class, hoping for 11+ pass,

organic, balsamic, colonic,

brogues, Waterstones, massive bank loans,

rock concerts at stately homes,

Ocado will deliver, regatta on the river,

coulis, Mary Berry, Rescue Remedy, a borrowed nanny,

yummy mummy, conservatory, De’Longhi, Audi,

suburbia, focaccia, AGA, Wagamama,

Prada bag (quality fake), ‘Anyone for a cupcake?’

The National Trust, veggy box delivery a must,

homemade brownies (without nuts), beach huts,

Waitrose, Apple, Kindle, pension funds that dwindle,

food provenance, tolerance, antioxidants,

Jeremy Clarkson’s rants,

Fired Earth, faux fur, acupuncture,

bright red cords, cricket at Lord’s,

au pair, House & Garden Christmas Fair,

artisan bread, SMEG, quails’ eggs,

car-mounted cycle rack, Green & Black’s chocs, Crocs,

arnica, gap year, book group, home-made soup,

golf club, bay trees in tubs, Outnumbered,

Farrow & Ball, lifestyle-threatening FTSE fall,

cashmere sweater, composter, Air Miles collector,

dining al fresco, Volvo, VW, Bugaboo,

divorced dads taking kids to the zoo,

can’t afford anything at the private view,

gas-powered barbeque, Pellegrino, hand-written thank you

black and white studio photo, the beach at Padstow,

‘Do sign the guest book before you go.’

mortgaged to the hilt, one eighth Scottish so wearing a kilt,

leased 4 x 4, Amtico floor, BBC Radio 4,

marquee wedding reception, tour of the new house extension,

smug self-congratulations,

Italian delicatessens, tennis lessons, the Middletons,

Toyota Prius, Pimm’s, Phoenix cards, Pret,

LK Bennett, no more Child Benefit, owning holiday lets,

competitive parenting, take off shoes before coming in,

antibacterial hand cleanse, having black friends,

yoga, gym or swim? Dukan diet, Darling!

overdrawn, sprinkle the lawn,

Tesco’s Finest, theatre tickets, Daddy’s playing cricket,

My Family, sushi, scraping together the school fees, cosmetic dentistry,

arts degrees, winging it financially, gîte In Normandy,

 wasabi peas, Pilates, G&T, Twickenham for the rugby,

switching utilities, on charity committee,

champagne socialist or conservative voter?

time to gossip on the church flower rota.

free range, ‘What climate change?’

no problem with burkas,

condescending to migrant workers,

recycling, commuting, National Hunt racing,

rare-breed sausages, Joules, Hunter wellies,

micro brewery ale,

don’t have my size in the Boden sale,

Nigella, Barbour, ‘Pretentious, moi?’ love Nordic TV drama,

cooked from Rick Stein, large glass of wine, listen to Jeremy Vine,

bag for life, ‘Mwwahh’ air kiss, John Lewis,

salsa class, Daily Telegraph, Great British Bake off,

Have I Got News for You makes us laugh,

stylish hats to wear to the races,

Thomas Pink shirts with flamboyant braces,

solar panels, Spaniels,

Breaking Bad, switching debt to 0% credit card,

Granny will pay because times are hard,

Facebook users, Budget losers,

M&S, the economy’s in a mess,

pashmina, elderflower, home tutor, ride-on mower,

fingers crossed the base rate goes lower.

©   Annie Harrison.Extracted from, ebook The Oddball English.  Not to be reproduced without permission from the author.

OEfrontcover reduced (375 x 600)

Health and safety first…


The English people are deeply indebted to the great work of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which strives tirelessly to protect and keep us safe.  No longer are lives put at risk from lethal hanging flower baskets outside pubs.  We can sit in the sun and sip our beer, perhaps sad that a little bit of colourful frippery has been lost forever, but relieved that the maiming and killing from the avalanche of hanging baskets has finally been stopped.

And as autumn arrives, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the vicious game of conkers is one step closer to being outlawed everywhere.  For visitors from overseas, a conker is the shiny seed of the horse chestnut tree.  Conkers is played by drilling a hole through a conker and threading it onto a piece of string.  Two opponents take it in turns to smash the other’s conker.  The winner is the first one to obliterate the other’s conker.

For hundreds of years, children have loved gathering these gleaming autumn trophies.  Playing conkers in the playground is just a harmless bit of fun, isn’t it?  No.  Not if you consider the effects of potential nut allergies, potential blindness from flying bits of conker, potential thumb and knuckle bruising, and the disrespectful treatment of the conkers themselves.  Fortunately, council officials have cut down horse chestnut trees planted by misguided Victorians in urban areas.  Falling conkers are every bit as vicious as hanging baskets.

So if you want to play conkers, you will need to do so under the cover of darkness, wearing goggles, padded gloves and carrying an epinephrine autoinjector.  Or you could go to the World Conker Championships held in Northamptonshire in October.  Here, 5000 people witness this annual gladiatorial event, flying conkers in the face of the HSE, our national killjoys guardians.

Extracted from The Oddball English by Annie Harrison.


Old money, upper class quotes


  [Filling out an official form]

Q: How long has your family lived at the present address?
697 years.

‘I was once naïve enough to ask the late Duke of Devonshire why he liked the town of Eastbourne.  He replied with a self-deprecating shrug that one of the things he liked was that he owned it.’  AN Wilson

‘How shall we ever know if it’s morning if there’s no servant to pull up the blinds?’  JM Barrie (author of Peter Pan)  

‘Turn first right after the Picasso.’  New money Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare directing a guest to the loo in his London penthouse.  

‘One has often wondered whether, upon the whole earth, there is anything so unintelligent, so unapt to perceive how the world is really going, as an ordinary young Englishman of our upper class.’  Matthew Arnold

‘Having photographs around the house is fine – if they’re royal and on the grand piano.’  Nicky Haslam, interior designer  

‘The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner.’   Margaret Halsey  

‘I am happy now that Charles calls on my bedchamber less frequently than of old.  As it is, I now endure but two calls a week and when I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, close my eyes, open my legs and think of England.’  Lady Alice Hillingdon  

Photographer to Anne, Princess Royal:  ‘Can you turn this way my love?
Anne, Princess Royal to photographer:  ‘I’m not your love, I’m Your Royal Highness.’  

Extracted from The Oddball English by Annie Harrison  

OEfrontcover reduced (375 x 600)

The English at the seaside


No other nation accessorises to such an extent when going to the seaside.  Beach huts are highly prized status symbols.  These painted sheds, with no water, power or overnight stays permitted, scream out beachside superiority.  ‘Look at us!  We have somewhere to shelter from the rain.  And we can boil a kettle on a Primus stove to make tea.  You can’t!’

The English cart all kinds of paraphernalia to the beach – windbreaks, deck chairs, buckets and spades, inflatables, umbrellas, iPods, sun cream, towels and picnics.  But a day on the beach is often short lived.  If disappointing weather doesn’t finish everyone off, then the threat of the parking warden, wandering about flourishing penalties, will.  (Maximum stay 2 hours – no return).

The English seaside is synonymous with pebbles, entertainment, chips, candyfloss and ice cream.  It’s occasionally livened up with a plague of jellyfish, a rumoured sighting of a dolphin or washed up salvage from a lost container ship.  People are lured to English resorts by strings of light bulbs, piers and funfairs.  The more light bulbs a seaside destination has, the greater the promise of ‘fun’.  The Victorians were commercially astute with their concept of piers.  They built them long, so that people would have to walk to the end where there is nowhere else to go.  Once corralled at the end of the pier, the exhausted punters are sold food, entertainment, fortune predictions, overpriced funfair rides and games that are impossible to win. Blighty’s seaside is also known for its rock.  Not of the geological or musical types, but of the teeth-rottingly edible kind.  Rock is a stick of boiled sugar with the name of the ‘resort’ blasted through the middle.  A black and white photograph of the resort, taken in 1953, is wrapped around the brightly coloured candy stick under a cellophane wrapping.  A perfect present for those who missed the short-lived day at the seaside.

Watch this:  sunny images of the English seaside.  

Look at these photographic extracts from a book on the English seaside.   (The real thing is a lot better, honestly.)

Extracted from The Oddball English – available to download and view on PC, laptop, phone or Kindle device from Amazon.  


The English summer season of events


From April to August the English summer season gets underway, its enthusiasts donning a different hat for each event.  However, in recent years, the whole season has been discreetly but decisively taken over by the international jet set.  Like the swallows settling here for the warmer months, the global super-rich swoop in to all the big fixtures on our social calendar and snaffle the top tickets – the Chelsea Flower Show, Glorious Goodwood, Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, Glyndebourne, Henley Royal Regatta, Guards Polo, Cowes Week – turning parts of southern England into fleeting millionaire playgrounds. Cordoned off by velvet ropes and Ray-Ban wearing security, Jimmy Choos dig into manicured lawns.  The rich and famous rub shoulders with royalty, hedge-fund managers, oligarchs and the rest of the world’s elite in a cosmopolitan pageant of sponsored colour and exclusive glamour.  Dom Perignon and extravagant hospitality are consumed as this echelon of global society thrills to sporting brilliance on English turf and surf. 

And so, for a privileged few, the English summer season is a non-stop quintessential culture-fest of social intercourse, helicopters, champagne, caviar, haut fashion, financial lavishness and sport. The English are grateful that our economy is boosted by the sheer weight of foreign money descending on our country every summer.  But as Eeyore might have put it, ‘Oh well, even if there were tickets left for the summer season, the English wouldn’t be able to afford them anyway.’ So the English stay in and watch it all on the telly after work.  The lucky few who manage to get hold of a ticket in the crowded public areas find themselves queuing for miles just to buy a can of Coke or go to the loo.  Treading on a sea of crushed plastic cups, they lift their mobile phones high to photograph ‘the action’ over 10,000 other heads, and go home thrilled because they almost saw The Queen.  But they can boast later to anyone interested, ‘Look at the picture.  I was there!’

©  Annie Harrison.  Extracted from The Oddball English.

How to speak with a London accent



 Abaat – approximately, or in the vicinity. 

Ant – I want.  Ant chips, ant money, ant work, ant to win X Factor.

Ayer-powt – the holiday starts and ends here if the flight isn’t overbooked and you haven’t forgotten your parse-powt.

Alma chizzit? – a request to establish the cost of an item.  ‘Alma chizzit for a taxi to the ayer-powt?’

Amant – a quantity of something.  ‘Kev bowt a large amant of gold on his trip to Doo-boy.’ (Dubai).

Annuva – additional.

Arf panda – a large hamburger.

Art attack – freaked out, as in ‘Don’t show this to Dave.  He’ll ‘ave a art attack.’

Arskt – enquired.  ‘Oi arskt ya to put mushy peas wiv me chips, not on the bloody fings.’

Awss – a four–legged animal ridden by jockeys in races. 

Ass – a domestic building in which people live.

Ass band – forced to stay at home by the rain, when ill or unemployed.

Bannsa – a person employed to deny access or eject troublemakers at a club. ‘Mike’s gone got izself a job as a bannsa.’

Barf – large plastic container filled with hot water in which a person ‘baves.’  Usually sited in the barf room.

Boaf  – the two. ‘Oi Kevin, ooja fancy most, Tracy or Sharon?’ ‘Whoa!  Boaf of em!’ 

Brought – purchased.  ‘Mick’s brought a new ass.’

Burf-dye – a celebration on the date of one’s birth. ‘Appy burf-dye to yer.’

Cancel – the administrative body within a town looking after the interests of its residents. ‘Oh me gawd Daryl, wive ad annuvva letta from the cancel.’

Cantafit – fake, as in money, watches, perfume, DVDs, sports clothing.

Choona – tinned fish.

Caught a panda – small hamburger (not as big as a arf panda).

C’nav – a request: ‘C’nav some vin’gar on me chips?’

Danstez – not upstairs.

Door-a – daughter.

Drekkun – what do you think?  As in ‘How many vodkas drekkun it’ll take before Darren pukes?’ 

Droive – operate or control a vehicle.  ‘If you’re droivin’ over to Kelly’s ass, c’nav a lift?’

Erz – belonging to her.

Eye-eels – high heels.

Eyebrow – cultured, intellectual, highbrow. 

Excape – get free from something.

Faazund – thousand.

Farva – a posh way to say Dad.

Fatcha – a reference to former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Faye-fool – firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty.  ‘Oi’d nevva cheat on yer darlin.’  Oil always be faye-fool, ‘cos I luv yer.’

Fank – thank.

Fing – thing.

Fink – thought process.

Fort – past tense of fink.

Froget – fail to remember.  ‘Don’t froget, ant a caught a panda not a arf panda.’

Frew – in one side and out the other, or, propelled through the air. ‘Who frew a cricket ball frew the winda?’

Garridje – a building where a car is kept or repaired. 

Gawon – go on. ‘Gawon Kevin, eat yer granny’s cabbage, it’ll do yer good.’

Haitchthe eighth letter of the alphabet.

Int – indirect suggestion.  ‘I gave Tony a sort of int that it was time for him to take a barf.’

Ja – do you, did you. ‘Ja like me new eye-eels, Tiffany?’

Jafta – is it really necessary? ‘Oi mate, jafta keep doin’ vat?’

Kaf – eating house open during the day.

Lad – noisy. ‘Jordan, turn that music dan.  It’s too lad.’

Laafe – what you lead if you’re not dead.  ‘Nan’s very ill.  She’s got, doctors, nurses, laafe-suppowt and stuff at her ass.’

Lafarjik – lacking energy. 

Leev it aht – to put something outside, or, stop it; don’t; no-way.  ‘Oi Britney!  Leev it aht, will ya?  I know yer muvva wants us to set a date, but stop goin’ on abaat it.’

Levva – material made from the skin of an animal.

Lotree – Costs £1 for a ticket to become a millionaire.

Maffs – the study of numbers.

Mass – a small cheese-eating rodent with a long tail.

Mill – food. Mickey was ‘ungry so he ordered a free cawss mill.

Munf – there are 12 munfs in the calendar year.

Muvva – a posh way to say Mum.

Narra – lacking breadth, with little margin. ‘Mum wonnid to come rand but changed ‘er mind.  That was a narra excape.’ 

Nartameen – do you know what I mean?  ‘Be careful.  Tasha’s farva is roofless.  Nartameen?’

Neeva – not one, nor the other.  ‘Did yer go back to Sharon’s ass or Tracy’s?’  ‘Neeva.’

Nevva – did not: ‘I nevva saw nuffink.’

New-cular pa – nuclear power.

Nowls – nails.

Nuffink – zilch.

Oaf – a solemn declaration of truth or commitment.

Oi – either first person singular, ‘Oi fink new-cular pa is a bad fing.’ Or a warning, ‘Oi!  Leev it aaht!  Vat’s me beer yer drinkin!’

Olladay – time taken away from home for rest and adventure.

Onnist – fair and just, without a lie. ‘I never did it, onnist.’

Ospi-dewl – where the sick are cared for.

Ov cawss – of course.

Pacific – specific.

Pa-fool – having much power or strength.

Paipa – tabloid news.

Pans an annsis – imperial weight system.  ‘Vis diet aint workin.’  I’ve put on 4 pans and 6 annsis since last munf.’ (Pounds and ounces).

Pitcher – art.   Kevin hung the baseball pitcher he’d picked up in Brooklyn above his bed.

Plammans – a traditional pub lunch of cheese, pickle and bread.

Prada – proud of.  ‘Ov caws I’m prada yer.’

Rand – circular, or a number of drinks purchased for a group in a pub.

Randeer – locally. ‘There ain’t much suppowt for a new sports grand randeer.  Everyone’s feeling lafarjik.’

Reband – period of recovery after rejection by a lover. ‘Oi woz desp’rat.  Oi woz on the reband from Jason.’

Roofless – without compassion.

Sand – noise vibrations. ‘Oi don’t like the sand of vat.’

Saan-widje – a filling between two slices of bread.

Sarf – a direction of the compass, opposite to norf.

Saw-tid – fixed, resolved, arranged, done. ‘It’s all saw-tid.  Dinner at the kaf ta-morra, and ven we’ll droive to the ospi-dewl to see Nan.’

Seevin – very angry. ‘I woz seevin when I got the letta from the cancel.’ 

Shaat – loud voice.  ‘No need to shaat.  I’m standin’ right next to yer.’

Ships – deep fried potato sticks served with fish.

Sir Vezza – Spanish for beer.

Ta-morra – the day following today.

Tan ass – a modern terraced house.

Teef – a set of hard, bonelike structures rooted in sockets in the jaws.

Tra-ziz – an outer garment for covering each leg from the waist to the ankles.

Toma-a – red vegetable used in ketchup.

Vat – that.

Ven – then.

Viss – this.

Wanned up – manual winding of a timepiece, or tension in a person. ‘I’m all wanned up at the moment.’

Wawazat? – excuse me?  ‘Wawazat?  Who scored the winnin’ goal?’

Webbats – requesting the location of something.  ‘Oi, Stacey, webbats you put me lotree ticket?  I fink I’ve got a winner.’

Will – wheel. Terry grabbed the will and avoided death.

Wevva – the state of the atmosphere, or, expressing doubt or choice between alternatives.  ‘On olladay, the wevva was so bad we were ass band.’  Or, ‘Del couldn’t decide wevva to ‘ave choona or ships in his saan-wije.’

Winda – a glass-filled opening between the inside and outside of a building.  ‘Shut the winda.  Everyone can hear yer shaating.’

Wiv – accompanying. ‘D’you want ships wiv yer caught a panda?’

Wonnid – needed, requested.  ‘Oi wonnid to know if Baz was in, so oi tapped on the winda.’

Wor-a-fantin – A jet of water for drinking or a garden ornament.  ‘Someone nicked the gnomes by the wor-a-fantin in Dot’s gardin.’

Woyn – Alcoholic drink made from fermented grapes, bottled with a screw-top.  ‘Oi Paula, webbats you put the woyt woyn?  Oi wonnid to take it over to Muvva’s for her burf-dye ta-morra.’

Yoof – teenager.  ‘Terry’s Mum looks very yoof-ful.’

Zajerate – to suggest something is better or bigger than is really is. ‘Craig, I must’ve told ya a fazzund times already, don’t zajerate.’

Yes, some people really do speak like this, still.

Extracted from The Oddball English by Annie Harrison.

OEfrontcover reduced (375 x 600)


Xenophobic? Not the English. (Well, maybe a bit)

Publicly, the English people are  self-effacing, but we’re actually superior to all other nations, a fact acknowledged throughout the world.  We know that secretly, other nations yearn to be ‘quintessentially English’.  From our island, we stand and watch the world fall in love with our creations and heritage: The Beatles, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Bridget Jones, James Bond, Antiques Roadshow, X Factor, fish and chips, real ale, moated castles, thatched cottages and our own Royal Family. We feel your Anglo envy, we really do.  We just can’t help being so bloody inspirational.  We’re also a misguided, awkward nation with delusions of grandeur.  Abroad, we certainly have a reputation for being insular and different.  Even in this age of global travel and having once possessed a sprawling empire, the English abroad remain mistrustful of most things ‘foreign’:
  • food
  • drinking water and milk
  • unwanted attention from persistent musicians when dining
  • immigration and customs officials
  • local plumbing
  • doctors, hospitals and prescription medicines
  • weights and measures
  • drivers and car rental businesses (which always provide a different model of car to the one reserved online).
  • crossing the road
  • the police and their powers
  • indecipherable road signs
  • local, religious or sexual customs and rituals
  • unwittingly becoming a drug smuggling mule using one’s own suitcase
  • tipping, bribery etiquette and having to barter
Oh yes, and tea.  We always pack our own life-supporting tea bags to take with us overseas because it’s impossible to get a decent cup of tea outside England.   Nicknames for the English The English are called all manner of insulting names by Johnny Foreigner, including pom, limey, guano (white bird shit), rooinek (red neck), les rosbifs, (roast beef) and inselaffen (island monkeys).  But we don’t care because we think we’re great.  England was once a nation of pith-helmeted empire building explorers.  We traded our empire abroad for one at home – one of health and welfare – and now we treat the rest of the world (when we can afford it) as our playground.  However, we still have rather fixed views of the non-English.   The French We believe that the cheese-eating surrender monkeys don’t deserve the right to live in France, with its wine, climate, mountains, space and beauty.  Since England now possess a coterie of home-grown, international, celebrity chefs, we can finally pour scorn on French food, which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  We infuriate the Frogs by successfully cultivating international, award-winning wine in southern England.  We also perceive the French to be insincere, unhygienic and sexually excessive.  From the other side of the Channel, the Frogs regard our pageantry and royal events with disdain, jealous that they guillotined the heads off their royal family and became a republic.   The Irish Our relationship with the Paddies is long and troubled, but improving.  We no longer consider the Irish to be a nation of diddly-do, feckless, Guinness-drinking, potato-eating, bog-trotting,  green-costumed, leprechaun-chasing peasants.  There are now more Irish people, or people of Irish decent, living in England than in the Emerald Isle itself.  And we love the Irish so much, that we’ve even given them the vote here.  Having an Irish accent and a smiling, joking demeanour is a passport to a career in broadcasting at the BBC.  There are now more Irish presenters, comedians and chat show hosts working for the BBC than there are people living in Dublin. The Germans   England’s war with Fritz is far from over.  We fought him on the beaches (we won), but now fight him on the international football pitch (we lose) and over the sun loungers on Mediterranean holidays (on-going).  The English have perfected the art of queuing and are patrons of fairness, accepting first-come, first-served.  So we pretend we don’t understand Fritz’s ‘towel planting’ reservation system.  ‘Calm down!  As you can see, all the sun loungers are taken.  Your sun lounger?  No mate, in English this is a “t-o-wel”.  Oh, it’s your towel?  You need to be more careful.  You left it on the sun lounger last night.  Luckily, nobody stole it.’ But we fear and admire the Germans at the same time:  for their tidiness, their precision, their punctuality, their tennis players and footballers, as well as the super management of their economy.  Our beloved royal family is German and we like driving German cars.  So our Teutonic xenophobia is actually rather superficial.

Extracted from The Oddball English by Annie Harrison.