Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BeGuinness Luck

by SHELL SHERREE

At the risk of starting a debate among a bunch of drunks bearing a startling resemblance to Kermit the Frog with grass stains, "Top o' the mornin' to you!"

I can hear you asking, "Why would this friendly welcome cause Guinness fuelled fisty-cuffs?" {Yes, I can hear you. Not nearly as unsettling for you as for me...}

I'll tell you why. I've just read that "Top o' the mornin' to you" isn't an Irish expression at all, rather something contrived and propagated by some furtive bunch of misfits shamrockfully hell-bent on making the Irish appear friendly. {Either that or it came from a movie. I'm not sure which. My fact-checking's a bit loose at the moment. I ran out of milk this morning and found out on The Beguinness Guide to Ireland that milk and Bailey's Irish Cream are interchangeable; begosh, begorrah, begin the beguine.}

Out of respect for the cheerfully belligerent spirit of the nation in the thick of today's St Patrick's Day festivities, I say, "Bollocks." Or is that Scottish? British? I'm sure I've heard both Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver say it, neither of whom is Irish. But according to Wikipedia, "In 1977, Professor James Kingsley, a famous linguistics professor at Nottingham University, had accredited the word to be used in the early eighteenth century with the Roman Catholic Church priests. His studies show that the actual word "bollocks" means either a 'priest', or 'rubbish spoken by the priest'." Given that St Paddy's Day is observed by people of Irish ancestry, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, anyone in English speaking countries who fancies an excuse for a pint or has an unnatural fondness for the colour green, and Roman Catholics, I hereby deem the word entirely appropriate for this purpose. Bollocks!

My hubby has an Irish mate who always shouts this welcome heartily down the phone. {"Top o' the mornin' to you," that is, not, "Bollocks!"} What's more, he roundly chastised me the first time for not knowing the appropriate response should one receive such a greeting: "And the rest of the day to yourself."

Given that he is Irish, I figure he should know. Then again, he is Irish. The world isn't full of Irish jokes for nothing, unless they too have been contrived and propagated by some furtive bunch of misfits wilfully hell-bent on making the Irish appear friendly, begorrah.

True to form, he's often drifting in a cosy befuddlement of whiskey when he rings. Whiskey is widely considered to be one of Ireland's favourite drinks. Irish whiskey was first distilled by monks about a thousand years ago. It is clearly viewed as an essential for life, given that the name was derived from the Irish uisce ("water"). And perhaps it's no accident that the word 'whiskey' starts to look very strange if you stare at it long enough. My cat has curly whiskeys. I shall whiskey the eggs until they are fluffy. Driving while inebriated is whiskey. Where was I...

Oh, yes. Happy St Paddy's Day to you all. Let the festivities beguinness, begorrah.

12 comments:

  1. This reminds me of what one says in Church, "The Lord be with you" (Top o' the mornin' to you)Response: "And also with you" (and the rest of the day to yourself). By Bollocks, I think I've got it! Now where whiskey (translation: was I)?

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  2. LOL, from cali ;) And I wondered why that greeting and response had a familiar ring to it...

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  3. Weeding your bog is whiskey, too. I might become addicted, and then I'm totally scwooed.

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  4. These bogs are whiskey business indeed, Petrea. I alweady know how addictive yaws is.

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  5. My husband is Irish and has 7 brothers so how is it I don't know these things about the greeting and proper response? I do love saying "Bollocks" but never knew what it really meant so thanks for doing the research. Now I can use it appropriately in church!

    And you do know how to whiskey, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow.

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  6. Do tell us how it goes when you exclaim, "Bollocks!" in church, PCN ...

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  7. Oh, the things I've just learned. Now I just have to wait until someone greets me with "Top o' the mornin' to you!" Just maybe next St. Patrick's Day, but even then . . . Manhattanites are just not that cheery in the A.M. As for bollocks, it is one of my dead faves for certain situations—maybe that's because it sounds so fitting when Hugh Grant says it (and didn't he say it repeatedly in church in "Four Weddings and a Funeral"?).

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  8. I believe he did, Alexa! {That and the F word, which sounds quite mild when uttered by him. Again, it probably goes back to origins. I have some theories ... }

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  9. I laughed so hard! Then I read your commenters and laughed again. Wot a witty bunch of weaders you have. :-)
    -Kim

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  10. Ah, Kim, begosh ~ welcome to the party! Yes indeed, a bunch of very good sorts. Thank you all for stopping by!

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  11. Wot's this? According to Miss Mild Manners there are times when the F word is not acceptable? Bloody hell! What am I to do now? F**k, I'm screwed. ;)

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  12. There's always Bollocks, from cali :) Far less whiskey...

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Merci, grazie, thank you for joining our conversation lounge. Your smile lights up the room. Even more beautifully than our crystal chandelier. x

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