Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

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Fitzsadou
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Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by Fitzsadou » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:34 am

Housey slang is well known, but I suspect that it is steadily vanishing, because of the uniformity of modern popular culture and the ever increasingly efficient ways it is being disseminated with modern electronic communications. Or has this slang already totally disappeared in 2015? Slang words were still in our daily vocabularies in the 1940s and 1950s, for example kiff (tea), and other words were well known, though no longer used, for example crug (bread).

The reason for this thread is because I recollect that one word, jicker (shoe polish), was only used in my house. Were there any other such slang words confined to one, or a few, houses? What were they? Is there any philologist reading this who can suggest an origin for this strange word? Could this thread additionally be a means of compiling a list of Housey slang words in use at different periods? I am aware that at least one book on the subject has been published, but I think it was concerned with nineteenth century Housey. Probably a reader has a copy.

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by michael scuffil » Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:15 am

'jicker' was ThA slang for shoe-polish, but also for what everyone else called 'juice' (i.e. gravy or custard or any other liquid accompaniment to a meal). It's always quoted as the example of single-house slang, so it may well be the only example. The collation of shoe-polish and gravy is, of course, also unique.

But even by the 1950s, CH slang (esoteric words for ordinary things) was down to about four words (kiff, flab, bocker, skiffage), so I don't think it has much to do with electronic communications. Slang must be distinguished from jargon (i.e. names for specifically CH things, e.g. swab, sicker, lav-end; or names of trades, or indeed the word 'trades' itself, or of course names of forms), though the bordeline may be fuzzy. There was also a specific CH syntax, e.g. 'over the sicker' (odd preposition), 'back to house' (missing article).
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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by William » Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:34 pm

Early fifties Housey slang included many more than four words. Words such as “bay” and “fotch” were in current use then. Another slang verb was to “buzz”, meaning to “cry”. Yet another is “dressing” meaning to stay in line while marching and take your position from an appointed person (usually on the left of a row, eg following the instruction, “Dress by the left”). Till today I presumed that this was a standard military term, yet it is not used in Scottish country dancing, where the dressing concept is important and frequently required. So I looked up “dressing” in the (online) Oxford Dictionaries for UK and USA usage. In neither is the Housey meaning given. Could a military reader comment? Whether all these words were used in a few or many houses, I don’t know.

The first two words could be used in the sentence, “Bay your head for a fotch”. This was remarkably concise and meant: Incline your head forward to expose your neck, so that with my palm, which I shall move forward rapidly, I can inflict a blow on the back of your neck as a punishment.

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by michael scuffil » Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:53 pm

I note that William says 'early 1950s'. Of the words he mentions, I have never heard 'bay', and 'fotch' only from books of CH memories (there was 'bodge' too, which apparently meant 'paper', but that too I've only seen in books). However, slang persisted longer in the Prep than it did in the Upper, and I heard ex-Preps using 'buzz' and 'crug', but they soon gave up.

I've found 'dress by the left' (etc.) in a number of military manuals, e.g. "Standing Orders for the Third, Or King's Own Regiment of Dragoons" (p.164) (but there are lots more, so it was an army term, not a CH one).
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William
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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by William » Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:14 pm

Thanks Michael. One learns something every day.

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by Fjgrogan » Sat Mar 28, 2015 5:29 pm

'Dressing' is not only an army term - it is also used in the navy (don't know about the fly boys!). When I was on new entry training with the WRNR we were the only squad to fail the parade training course and have to retake it!! My husband was not amused - he having trained at Whale Island thought he knew all about squad drill (still does!). It is a common misconception too that the order 'by the left march' means to kick off on the left foot - not true! In fact you always kick off on the left foot, even if the order is 'by the right march'. The 'right' or 'left' actually refers to dressing from the left or right, or sometimes even the centre! My younger daughter, having been in the CCF at CH, decided to go along to the local sea cadets during the school holidays. Unfortunately at the time they were practising for a forthcoming drill competition, and did nothing but squad drill for several weeks - she got thoroughly bored and soon dropped out. Of course, what we did at Hertford on dinner parade was never really marching - more of a more-or-less co-ordinated shuffle! I have never been able to march properly - I can't co-ordinate my arms - better if I have a shoulder bag, or perhaps a rifle, so that I only need to swing one arm!

To return to Housey slang - the only words I remember being used at Hertford were 'quis?', 'ego' and 'squat' meaning to sit next to or walk alongside.
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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by keibat » Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:23 pm

My learned and courteous colleague Dr Scuffil comments first that "even by the 1950s, CH slang (esoteric words for ordinary things) was down to about four words (kiff, flab, bocker, skiffage)", but then adds that "slang persisted longer in the Prep than it did in the Upper, and I heard ex-Preps using 'buzz' [cry] and 'crug' [bread]"; and yes, I think he is right.

It seems to me that fotch [a blow to the back (or top?) of the head] is sadly familiar, but maybe specifically from my year in the Prep.
I also definitely remember 'quis?', 'ego', mentioned by Frances Grogan – but I rather think they were used in other boarding schools as well. I don't remember her squat, but that did remind me of squit as a derogatory term for a small human being – was that specific to CH?

And what about taffs for potatoes? And I have a strong feeling that there were other food words, but they're not crawling out of the recesses of my memory just now. Did we perhaps have a slang word for porridge?
As for shoepolish, in Barnes B at least that was surely stodge.

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by Straz » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:11 am

Great thread guys...
Late-60s and early-70s CH slang still included: crug (bread), flab (butter), muck (jam), kiff (tea), and squit (new boy).
We used these terms in Leigh Hunt A. However I noticed that the terms were used less as I moved up to Peele A, circa 72-75.
I also recall "bodge", although not during my time at CH. My father (who was in MidA in the 30s) used the phrase a lot at home.
Keibat asks if there was a slang word for porridge. I remember it being called 'puke', but wasn't exactly slang... :rolleyes:
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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by Fjgrogan » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:28 am

At Hertford stodge was nothing to do with shoe polish. Friday lunch was always fish and stodge, the latter being various forms of sponge or steamed pudding. Another word which springs now to the aging mind is codge, which was the name for the senior study in each house/ward - or perhaps it was only in 6's? Anyway when Miss Mercer moved to County Kerry there was one bedroom in her bungalow which was always called the codge.
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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by Ajarn Philip » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:08 am

William wrote:Yet another is “dressing” meaning to stay in line while marching and take your position from an appointed person (usually on the left of a row, eg following the instruction, “Dress by the left”). Till today I presumed that this was a standard military term, yet it is not used in Scottish country dancing, where the dressing concept is important and frequently required. So I looked up “dressing” in the (online) Oxford Dictionaries for UK and USA usage. In neither is the Housey meaning given. Could a military reader comment?
I'm not a military reader, but I'm pretty sure that "Dress left/right" is a standard military drill command.
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

Phil Underwood Ma A Col A Mid B 68-75

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by DavidRawlins » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:09 am

Fotch was used in Col A, but not bay.
We used 'collops' for minced meat, that was served as a kind of stew on occasions. It was much tastier than Housey stew.
Another word used in Col A was 'oz' for a slice of bread. Maybe this described it's presumed weight.
During bread rationing in 1947 the most juniors in Col A were given the misshaped pieces from the ends of the loaves.
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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by Oliver » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:30 am

How different Col A was from other Houses. Elsewhere the crusts, whether misshapen or not, were great delicacies. One served oneself with bread, by going to the end of the house’s table, nearest to the kitchens, and cutting from a very long Prewett’s loaf what one wanted. Even during the time when bread was rationed in the UK (after, but never during, the war) unlimited bread was always available at CH. At that end of the house table sat two or three monitors and the most junior boys. When a loaf was being started or ended, crusts became available and always had to be offered first to the monitors. Probably resulting from this I have had a life long preference for crusts and crusty bread in general (especially good French baguettes and flutes). I suspect most former monitors, who were in houses with this practice, still have a similar inclination.

The lady superintendent, Mrs Johnson who succeeded Miss Stevenson, aka ‘Hag Steve’, made very many improvements to the boys’ food. One innovation was supplying menus. A very palatable and frequent dish was designated ‘Scotch Collops’, a sort of beef mincemeat stew containing pieces of minced beef a centimetre, or a little less, in diameter. Collop (a slice or piece of meat) is a standard English word (not CH slang), probably coming from the Swedish word Kalops meaning meat stew. But at CH this dish’s name was often transformed to Scotch Bollocks.
Last edited by Oliver on Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by Kit Bartlett » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:34 am

"Spadge " was a word used to mean walk as in spadge back to the House. it was quite common in the Preparatory School c 1942-3 but not so much in the Upper School.

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:19 pm

I was going to mention 'spadge'. This has a long history, and is mentioned in 18th-century memoirs. In the 1950s I think it had a very specific meaning, namely to walk along with a friend with your hand in his girdle, or his in yours, or both. This practice was common among boys of all ages, especially juniors, and had no homoerotic connotations.

Of course, CH as a society of adolescent boys, had its slang terms for sexual matters. I don't know to what extent these were CH-specific, but I will list those I remember here in boy-scout code. Those with a scholarly interest can decrypt them with lemon-juice or whatever.

up cd po kbdl: ibwd bo fsfdujpo
up cd po cpol: (ditto: BaA specific, I think)
up ibwd poftfmg: up nbtuvscbuf (as in 'he was ibwjoh ijntfmg po uif cph')
cjh/tnbmm cpz: nvdi pmefs/zpvohfs cpz xjui xipn pof xbt jo bo fspujd sfmbujpotijq
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: Jicker, Housey slang and individual Houses

Post by J.R. » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:47 am

Having never had any connection with the boy-scouts Michael, you'll have to PM me !!
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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