Sunday 14 August 2011

40 - 'Sometimes, I think there's air gettin in!'

Inlet of Strangford Lough at Bishop Mill, near Portaferry, Co. Down
August 11, 2011

Hey, the weather hasn't been great here recently – typical summer weather, really – damp!  But we've got plenty to talk about, never mind the weather!  The world economies are shaking – and it makes a real change for us to be sittin' here in Northern Ireland, watching young people rioting, businesses burning and the police charging with riot shields – over there in London, etc.

We've even sent over a few of our armoured landrovers and a water cannon to help out the police in London.  You must admit, it does make a change, eh?

Also, I've just got all my accounts info off to the accountant and my book is at the nearly final stage of being proof-read by a couple of people, so I've got time to produce another show and blether away about the sort of stuff I usually waffle on about.  That OK with yez all?  Dead on, like!

So, we haven't talked much about the language over here for a while.  I'm forever using expressions, or hearing friends use them, and thinkig, "I must include that on the show."  Of course, by that time I've forgotten most of them.

But we DO use an awful lot of quaint, or different, expressions.  The one I just used a minute ago is often used in a sarcastic manner, "Aye, dead on, like!"  It means we think someone is telling us an unlikely story.  A good Belfast expression of disbelief would be to say, "Yer crackers!", "Yer head's cut!"  Or perhaps, "Yer head's a marlie!"  A 'marlie' is a marble, by the way!  Another good one is, "Sometimes, I think there's air gettin in!"

We do quite a lot of this bantherin' lark – 'cause we really don't like anyone gettin' above themselves, or 'gettin' airs' about themselves.  A 'stuffed shirt' will get pretty short shrift in Northern Ireland.  A great compliment about someone would be to say, "He's just himself, like – very down to earth."  If someone is pretty astute – "pretty canny," as we might put it – we might say, "There's no flies on him, now."  Or, "Any flies on him's payin' groun' rent!"

I can remember the former Chief Constable of Northern Ireland – y'know, the head of our police force – when he retired bought a boat and kept it in the same little private marina in Donaghadee, where I was working on re-building my boat.  He would arrive down with two hefty bodyguards, but they'd stay in the car in the upper yard – near where I was working, and read the paper, or whatever.  Sir John would go on into the main part of the marina and foother away at his boat – and sure, why wouldn't he?  It's a very relaxin' occupation.  

One day he got chattin' to one of my friends there and this friend said to him, "You're John, aren't ye?"  He replied, "Well, Sir John, actually!"  And this guy said, "Aye, well down here yer just 'John', right?"  And that's just the way we are.  If someone gets too full of themselves we'll mebbe say somethin' like, "Yer takin' a han' outta me, now.  Aren't ye?"   Watchin' two people tryin' to come to some agreement – say like one buyin' a cyar off the other – can be very entertainin', not to mention educational.  

To buy a cyar ye need to put on yer aul' duds – y'know, the worst 'n' dirtiest pair a' jeans ye can fin', wi' an aul' dirty pullover, or whatever.  Ye wanna look like ye havn't three ha'pence ta rub together!  And take one – or better still, two – friends wi' ye, dressed in a similar fashion.  Ye don't want them ta "see ye comin', now"  In other words, think yer "an aisy touch" – that yer "made a' money, like!"  

"How little were ye lukin' for it, anyway?"  "A thousand poun'?  Ye're kiddin' me.  Ye must be jokin', now!"  "C'mon now.  Have a wee bit a sense.  Thon cyar's not worth a quarter a' that!"  Yer friend can interject at this point, "Look at the rust undther here."  (As he sticks a screwdriver into the door sill)  "Ach, away 'n' have a bit a' sense, now!"  Ye get the idea, I'm sure?

The same thing can apply in a shap.  "How much is that, now"  "Oh, as much as that, eh?"  "Ach, sure, ye'll gave me a wee bit off it now, won't ye?  A wee bit a discount?"  "Ach yer a dacent man, yersel'"  "And w'u'd ye not throw the other one in wi' it, now?"  Bargainin' 'n' hagglin' are just a way a' life aroun' here, ye know!  Never pay the full price if ye don't hav' to!

I heard of a Scotsman who was hagglin' in the Old City of Jerusalem for some antique.  He'd bate the bye down from 800 shekels to about 80, and then told the shop owner he didn't want it after all.  "If yer prepared to sell it for that little," he said, "sure it could'n' be genuine!"

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