Every family has its own sayings. Mine did and I’m sure yours did as well.
Grandad wouldn’t swear. If his old car wasn’t working the way he wanted he’d curse it by saying, ‘Bally car!’ (Pronounced ‘belly’). I think this is an old Irish word. Mum swore when something went wrong with, ‘Hell and bloody Tommy’. My oldest brother Tom didn’t like this and asked her why his name was used.
If I was cheeky or a bit naughty, she would call me ‘a little imp’. If we asked Dad where Mum was, he’d say, ‘She went mad and I shot her’. We would roll our eyes and understand that Dad just didn’t know where she was at that moment. One day when we were out on a Sunday drive, Dad stopped the car by a public convenience and said, ‘I’ve got to go to the la-la’. Slightly older sister and I had no clue what he was talking about until we saw him walk into the Men’s.
Both Mum and Dad lovely poetry and would quote little poem bites. Mum would say ‘Oh, my love is like a red, red rose, that’s newly sprung in June; Oh, my love is like a melody that’s sweetly played in June.’ When she saw a lovely grove of trees she would say, ‘I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed against the earth’s sweet flowing breast’. Dad would wake us in the morning pulling back the curtains and flooding our bedrooms with sunlight, happily saying, ‘Awake! For morning in the bowl of night has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight; and lo! The hunter in the East has caught the sultan’s turret in a noose of light’. ‘Go away, Dad’, we would moan burying our heads under our pillows.
Language was rich and expressive. We understood the intent behind it. Lots of it wouldn’t be allowed now-a-days. We got the message though if Mum or Dad were angry and we knew when it was time to make ourselves scarce. We also knew that we were loved.