Copied from my MySpace blog. Originally posted October 16, 2006
In a recent blog, I offered some tips for travelers heading to the UK. I focused on the importance of understanding the difference between North American English versus English English. One reader reminded me of one word that I had forgotten, so I have decided to release part 2.
Today, I will offer more advice to North American travelers on understanding our bangers 'n' mash-loving friends across the Atlantic. Specifically, this bloggy thingy will highlight some of the differences in:
On this side of the ocean, kids call their bottoms their "bums". It's a cute term. In London, my wife was a school teacher. On one of her first days with English kids, she told the rowdy class to quiet down and sit on their bums. The children went wild. They couldn't believe that she would use that word in a classroom. She expressed her surprise to her fellow teachers who agreed with the children - she was out of line to say bum.
And it's not just in classrooms that the word bum is seen as indecent. I had a boss who, when he was upset, would mutter "oh, bum!" and then apologize for swearing in the office.
But the same guy had no qualms about using that c-word that is considered to be very vulgar here. That's right, many Brits will call you a cunt as quickly as a North American will eat a triple cheeseburger from Wendy's.
But don't be a cunt and call your "waist pack" a "fanny pack". In North America, "fanny" means the same thing as "bum" and it's as harmless. But in the UK, it's means the same thing as "cunt" and it's just as vulgar!
I know, this is confusing!
Peter, a chef I worked with in London once asked me how the song "The Weight" by The Band could be so popular in North America. He had misunderstood the lyrics "Take a load off, Fanny" as "take a load of fanny." Peter, who was gay, pictured Robbie Robertson offering concert-goers some free vagina to take home with them.
He felt better about the song once I told him the proper lyrics, although he still kind of doubted me when I said that Fanny is a perfectly fine name.
Then, he felt worse about us "New Worlders" when I told him about the local ski hill back in my hometown. The most difficult run on the hill was called "The Fanny". Because you might fall on your bum. Peter thought it was another sign that Canadians and Americans are big fat pigs.
Anyhow, I wrote this while watching tv, so it probably doesn't make much sense, but if it does, I hope that it will be helpful to you if you ever travel to the UK from North America.
Remember, bum is bad, cunt is good. That sounds like a homophobic man's mantra, doesn't it? But it's not - it's all you need to know to make sure that everyone you meet in the UK thinks you're the dog's bollocks. You don't want your visit to be a total balls-up, because that's bad, innit?