Archive for October, 2017


October 13, 2017

I have been thinking of doing a Blogg about Colloquial French. This has always been a problem for me because I only ever learned Proper French, and consequentially never learned what on earth they were on about colloquially.

I go to this Banque Alimentaire once a week, because I am poor. This means Food Bank in English. And we all sit around for at least an hour while we wait for the hand outs. Everyone has a lovely time, and they all chat away about local scandals and traumas. Unfortunately, I mostly don’t understand a word of it. It is all much too fast for me. Although I did catch “Chez Angele” last week. I knew Angele while some of them were still in nappies, but I couldn’t join in because I know nothing about colloquial French.

Angele ran this really grotty little bar, and a brocante. Well, she sold a lot of dubious second hand furniture. Her useless husband who never appeared to do much at all, had his leg cut off for diabetes, and then died. Why would he not have done, I asked myself. But they did toll the bell at the church of Saint Rivalain for him. The last of his kind.

He was a groper. He groped me once or twice, but you don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing in Brittany. They all do it, and no real harm meant. I’ve got this theory that none of them are getting enough, poor souls. Probably Brittany’s answer to Catholic Birth Control. And it is only ever a grope.

But this brings me to Colloquial English. And whatever it was I was going to say, I have now lost it. I can no longer remember most of the ghastly language that was my heritage. From the East End of London. I was one of the last Cockneys to be born before the war.

I don’t know if I am sad about that. Maybe just a little. And I can still do a mean, “Gor Blimey Mate”, if circumstances allow. And the occasional, “See you Jimmy”. Not to forget the few odd, lurid Cornish expressions which I won’t repeat here because they are a bit, er, too lurid.

My Yorkshire father in law did call me, “Thee”, which I thought was lovely. He was a nice old man who never made me feel like a London Tart, which sadly, a lot of Yorkshire people did.

This knowledge all being due to having lived all over Britain at some time in my life.

But my favourite remains, “Come orn, Get arf”. This is Glaswegian for, “Come on, get off”, when I was a bus conductress in Glasgow and the passengers were getting a bit out of hand after a football match at Ibrox. I was never very good at this one because it made me laugh. But then these hardened, very drunk Glaswegians were never anything other than nice to me, even if they couldn’t understand a word I was saying most of the time.

In France you see, everyone learns proper French in school, they just don’t use it, and I am not brave enough to inflict this upon them when they are having a chat to pass the time. My loss, obviously.

But in the end it is bad grammar that most offends me about English. Do they actually still teach this in British schools?