Last of the Summer Wine : Need help with British terms

Need help with British terms

I am an American viewer of LOTSW and there are a few terms and phrases used on the show that I don’t understand. I can get a vague idea by the context in which they are used but it would be nice to have a genuine Brit explain them.

Examples:
Barry says he has “A levels”. What is that?
Ivy accused Foggy of being “full of flannel”. What does that mean?
What is a barmpot?
Compo was afraid of looking like a “right Wally”. What is that?
Compo often made a gesture consisting of two upturned fingers. What does it mean?

Can anyone explain any of these? Feel free to add to the list.

Re: Need help with British terms

in England, children leave school at 16 after completing GCSE exams, then if they want, they go to college to complete either 3 or 4 A Levels (for 2 years)

a right wally is a person who is silly.

the 2 fingered gesture is like giving the finger, just using 2.

full of flannel means he is stuffy, he is very prim and proper

Re: Need help with British terms

As I have gathered, students don't exactly graduate from high school but rather complete GCSE exams and then leave school. It seems very odd that there is no formal graduation, but they take their exam and then just leave.

Re: Need help with British terms

Barmpot is an idiot (interchangeable with wally).

Full of flannel can also mean that you are flattering someone to get something from them (aka buttering them up)

Re: Need help with British terms

What does "taking the wee-wee" mean?

Re: Need help with British terms

Just to elaborate...
"O" levels (ordinary) were examinations in various disciplines (mathematics, english literature, geography, sciences, etc) traditionally taken by 16-year olds. Employers could gauge candidates by how many "O" levels they had and what grades they achieved. As mentioned these examinations have been replaced.
"A" levels (advanced) were taken (traditionally) by 18-year olds - but brighter souls can take them at an earlier age. Used again by employers to compare candidates and also as a means of entry to university.

Full of flannel. I have to disagree with previous comments. To me this means "full of nothing", "full of hot air".

A barmpot is someone who is "barmy" i.e. they are idiotic, crazy, silly. Probably used as an effectionate term rather than a deflamatory term.

A "Wally" is a fool. Don't know who the original Wally was or whether there's any connection to "Where's Wally?". [I'm sure you know that Nora's husband was called Wally - probably short for Walter].

The "two-fingers' salute" or "v-sign" is more commonly used by older persons - the young tend to use the American version (I guess as a result of TV and films).

"Taking the wee-wee" - a more polite way of saying "taking the piss" - means to "pull someone's leg", to jest.

Re: Need help with British terms

Fun fact: "Where's Wally" is published as "Where's Waldo" in America. :)

"Positive Portrayal of a Cockroach" Award Recipient: WALL-E. The cockroach is a noble beast.

Re: Need help with British terms

A right Wally, means simply a proper fool, wallying about is fooling about, it has nothing to do with Nora Batty's deceased husband, although, Wally is in many of the earlier episodes.
Full of flannel is usually used to infer that the person is trying to "Flannel you" meaning flattery where it is not meant.
The two finger salute means exactly the same as the one finger given over just about everywhere except the UK in Italy it is given with the middle finger and it is not just used by elderly people.

Re: Need help with British terms

i've heard wee wee...all my life........

susan

Re: Need help with British terms

the 2 fingers up dates back a couple of centuries to when England and France were at war. The French when capturing English archers (bow & arrows) they would cut those 2 fingers off so they were rendered usless to fight anymore. The Brits in a sign of defiance and total coolness, would stick up their 2 fingers to show they had them still.

You are in a position to demand nothing. I, on the other hand, am in a position to grant nothing.

Re: Need help with British terms

from what i've gathered watching brit shows....if you put the two fingers upright it's the v sign..turn them downward..and it's another word that begins with F....

i saw that the downturn on a couple of shows...one being are you being served, and also on red dwarf..

susan

Re: Need help with British terms

I am British and I have never heard of the two fingers pointing down being used as an insult. In fact I have never heard of it at all. There is an alternate version of the v-sign, which involves starting with the gesture and the two fingers pointing at someone (palm up) and then bringing the hand up at the wrist to the traditional v-sign, and continuing to repeat in a wave gesture (often with both hands). This is generally used to refer to a mickey take in a more insulting manner. I think this might be what you saw on Red Dwarf.

"I'm not really me. Thats me there- that pile of albino mouse droppings!"

Re: Need help with British terms

What does it mean when a woman is referred to as “fancy”? Mrs. Avery referred to Marina as Howard’s “fancy bit” and I’ve seen something similar in other British programs. It doesn’t seem to be a compliment. Does it mean she is a fun date?

Re: Need help with British terms

i would say that 'fancy bit' would be more like a 'tart' or (harsher) a 'slut'.

Re: Need help with British terms

Compo sometimes says he has to save his money for the "geegees". Does this mean betting on horses?

Re: Need help with British terms

Yes, G G's refers to horse racing, whilst if you say 'at the track' you are referring to greyhound dog racing.

"I'm not really me. Thats me there- that pile of albino mouse droppings!"

Re: Need help with British terms

There is an English alliteral saying which was also put into a song, A little of what you fancy does you good" This can be used to denote, wine, women or song and a "Fancy" woman as referred to Marina in the Series is one who you go with go get extra marital attention, so to speak

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Re: Need help with British terms

The show often mentions the men being home by tea time. When exactly is tea time?

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Re: Need help with British terms

On the golf course, Barry is always trying to impress a guy he calls “the captain”. Can someone explain why he is called “the captain” and why is Barry trying to impress him?

Re: Need help with British terms

In golf the captain is the leader of the golf club in competition with other clubs. He is usually the best player. He also organizes the club's competitions.

Any team sport has a team captain.

Re: Need help with British terms

Thanks for the explanation willjohn. I guess things are done differently in England than in the USA.


Re: Need help with British terms

We do a lot of similarly in Australia. My brother is captain of a social golf club. The game beat me years ago.

Re: Need help with British terms

There are a number of British/American dictionaries on the web.

Re: Need help with British terms

Tea time ...
is the meal that you have when you finish work, at 5pm or thereabouts!

If you don't ask Questions ... You don't get Answers!

Re: Need help with British terms

If it was a cricket test match it would be 4 p.m
Normally it is between 5-7 p.m.
Tea time is just working class for dinner time.
When I was a kid in the 70's it was breakfast , dinner(lunchtime) , tea-time(dinnertime)




You know, Wobbles... I'm kinda mad at you.

Re: Need help with British terms

In the US South, we had breakfast, dinner (lunchtime), and supper.

I thought afternoon tea was something the Brits had in between the middle meal and last meal of the day. I remember in an old movie called To Each His Own (set in England WWII time), a US officer is asked if he had dinner and he says "No, but we had tea twice."



This positively infantile preoccupation with bosoms!Terry-Thomas about US 1963.Hasnt changed much!

Re: Need help with British terms

In the US South, we had breakfast, dinner (lunchtime), and supper.


This positively infantile preoccupation with bosoms!Terry-Thomas about US 1963.Hasnt changed much!

Re: Need help with British terms

"Tea time" has vastly different meanings in different communities and different eras. To say it is the meal you have when you get home after work, or it is between 5 and 7 pm is a vast over simplification.

As far as our three heroes are concerned tea time probably is between about 5 and 7 pm, because they would have had their 'dinners' in the middle of the day.

For those more accustomed to 'lunch' they may have tea anytime between about 3 and 5 pm (a light finger buffet with cake(s) and tea to drink). For such Dinner would be between about 6.30pm and 8.30pm. I saw a TV programme recently about Queen Victoria's visits to her wealthy Subjects with great houses and was surprised to discover that for her retinue Dinner began at 9pm. Our three Yorkshire adventurers would be on to supper by then (Cocoa and a biscuit) maybe.

How is it in the US, are meal times universal?

http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/HighTeaHistory.htm

There are vast amounts of information about 'English', (I presume Wales is pretty similar to England but am not sure about Scotland) 'Tea' meals, the stuff about high and low tea is interesting. I guess what our Yorkshire trio would normally have would be 'high' tea.

(I acknowledge I have not read the whole of this thread and may be duplicating)

Re: Need help with British terms

Tea time is probably around 4or 5PM. High tea is essentially supper and low tea is where tea and crumpets are served.

Re: Need help with British terms

How about a building society? This puzzles me every time they talk about Barry's job.

Re: Need help with British terms

A Building Society is a savings bank that sells mortgages. After deregulation they became more like banks with personal loans, current accounts.
In the US they would be called "savings and loans". But without the late 80's collapse.

Re: Need help with British terms

Most of what you hear is Yorkshire dialect, don't know if you notice but in most of the early episodes, when the characters were speaking instead of using you they'd say thee, for example in an episode called How to clear your pipes:

Compo: What kept thee, tha's been hours
Foggy: We came as quickly as we could
Clegg: Have you any idea how quickly ya can get bored inside here

Another saying is Ivy's 'what the blood and stomach pills', which means 'what the hell's going on here'.

The two finger salute is ruder than the one finger salute, though when you do the two finger salute, turn the hand around and it becomes Winston Churchill's v for victory sign he used in WW2

'You great Jessie' is basically calling someone an idiot

Hope this helps

Re: Need help with British terms

Calling a man a "Jessie" can also mean he is like a woman, a sissy.

Re: Need help with British terms

It is strange and fascinating how if we live in a society where such terms are in common usage, we come to understand the meaning they convey, without understanding why that particular term is used or how it was discovered.

So, I would be interested to know, what you think is the derivation of "You look a right Jessie!"

Re: Need help with British terms

In the north of England, and in Scotland, a Jessie is a woman, very much as a Sheila is in Australia. You would only say "You like a right (Proper or Complete) Jessie" to a dandified man.

Re: Need help with British terms

in ontario.....we used to have grade 13.....that was five years of highschool instead of the usual four...if you wanted to go to university, then you needed grade 13....

now there is only grade 12...but you have to take almost as many courses in 4 years......as opposed to the five....

so that's what a-levels mean....as it used to relate to ontario..

actually not...the two upturned fingers...don't mean a gesture...they mean peace...if they were turned down however...that means something...

if someone's ever watched red dwarf.....then, they have them turned upside down....and in an eppy of are you being served, captain peacock in one eppy has his fingers turned down...then he turns them up right awazy........to mean peace....

Re: Need help with British terms

My granddaughter starts school next week (January 31), she will be five in May. If she did not turn five until July she would have to wait until next year. If she finishes school (kindergarten to year 12) she will be seventeen and a half years old. If her marks are good enough she would then be able to go to University. That is the system in New South Wales, my part of Australia.

Re: Need help with British terms

As was said before, the two fingers turned down sign is not used in the UK. It's two fingers pointed uowards - palm facing away from user = victory (as used by Churchill), or peace (as used today) - palm facing user = *beep* off (in UK).

Re: Need help with British terms

Quite late to the party, but for anyone wandering in on this who may have similar questions ---

Check out a rather good British to American Dictionary, at www.effingpot.com.

Much more efficient than trying to query the web, one term at a time.

Also, if possible, watch Last of the Summer Wine with captions turned on. Helps tremendously with the Yorkshire accent.

Have fun, and enjoy.
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