Thursday, September 07, 2006

You lot are due a good bollocking!


Sixty comments on the chutney post below and what do I do? Go back to talking bollocks. Well, Man cannot live on recipes alone, and I refuse to discuss knitting patterns... unless it's to talk about the chainmail coif history project, which comprised 6 and a half thousand steel rings in a classic English barley twist pattern...

But I digress. So herewith I pop my popularity bubble. Bollocks!

Fellow Witanagamoter Sperestillan (whose blog has another name to confuse the enemy) gave us the short and sweet (or should that be short and curly?) on the derivation of the word bollocks, which to my mind was music to the ears, not least because our damned colonial cousins continually choose to cock it up. It's only foreign folk who coyly use bollox or bollix, or "ballicks". So they, must be educated. Which means giving a bit of context to the word for the benefit of us Brits too.

Good word bollocks! And it's not offensive at all, as was proved by John Mortimer QC (autor of Rumpole of the Bailey) who defended in the trial of the Sex Pistols' 'Never Mind the Bollocks'.
The enormous brouhaha over the release and naming of their debut album Never Mind the Bollocks became farcical when Virgin was unable to place advertising because the media weren’t prepared to risk possible prosecution because of that magic word – bollocks! It seems impossible to believe now how much trouble and strife this album created on its release in November ’77. It was even being sold under the counter in brown paper bags in the high street, and couldn’t be put on open display in stores – well non Virgin ones anyway! The Woolworth’s chain then the UK’s biggest record retailer, refused to stock it at all despite it being the runaway biggest selling album in the country.

Charges were bought under the 1899 Indecent Advertising Act (which was repealed after the case). But old Mortimer was no slouch and he called upon the Reverend Professor James Kingsley to give evidence, (due to him being an expert).

He said it was used in records from the year 1000 and in Anglo Saxon times it meant a small ball. The term was also used to describe an orchid. He said that in the 1961 publication of Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang, he had not taken into account the use of the word bollocks in the Middle Ages. He said it appears in Medieval bibles and veterinary books. In the bible it was used to describe small things of an appropriate shape. For instance bollocks could also be traced to a pulley-block at the head of a sailing topmast, otherwise known as a bullock block.

He said that the word also appears in place names without stirring any sensual desires in the local communities. Mortimer said that this would be similar to a city being called Maidenhead - that didn't seem to cause the locals in the vicinity any problems.

Mr. Kingsley said that Partridge in his books wrote that bollocks remained in colloquial use down through the centuries and was also used to denote a clergyman in the last century. ''The word has been used as a nickname for clergymen. Clergymen are known to talk a good deal of rubbish and so the word later developed the meaning of nonsense,'' he said. ''They became known for talking a great deal of bollocks, just as old balls or baloney also come to mean testicles, so it has twin uses in the dictionary''.

Mr. Ritchie asked him if he was just an expert on the word bollocks to which Kingsley replied that he was an expert on the English language who felt he could speak with authority on the derivation of a word such as bollocks. Mr. Ritchie asked Kingsley if the words f***, c*** and shit also appeared in the Dictionary of Slang from which he had quoted. Kingsley replied ''if the word f*** does not appear in the dictionary it should.''

(By the way, 'f***' and 'sh**' are on my 'to do' list.)

Mr. Mortimer in summing up the case for the defense said: “What sort of country are we living in if a politician comes to Nottingham and speaks here to a group of people in the city centre and during his speech a heckler replies 'bollocks'. Are we to expect this person to be incarcerated, or do we live in a country where we are proud of our Anglo Saxon language? Do we wish our language to be virile and strong or watered down and weak?

Upon returning to the courtroom some 20 minutes later the chairman of the bench made this finding:

“Much as my colleagues and I wholeheartedly deplore the vulgar exploitation of the worst instincts of human nature for the purchases of commercial profits by both you and your company, we must reluctantly find you not guilty of each of the four charges.''

Loving you and leaving you for a bit. Bollock knives to follow....

Oh alright then! I'll give you a quick pic as a teaser....

9 Comments:

Anonymous Curmy said...

Gavin, I'm shocked at such crudity, I'll have to reach for my smelling salts !

Thu Sep 07, 07:38:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Gavin Corder said...

Why do I doubt you, Curmy? I suspect it would take considerably more to give you the vapours!

Thu Sep 07, 08:12:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Sperestillan said...

Excellent lol! My own entry has now been updated with a link accordingly.

And yes, confusing the enemy. A sound strategy learnt from the likes of Miyamoto Musashi. Unfortunately I haven't quite got the hang of it properly yet and have been known to end up confusing myself.

Thu Sep 07, 08:53:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Smut dressed up as an educational thesis.

Still smut though Gavin!

Turkish has the word 'ballak' which means fish. When I was over in Turkey I used to meet up with a group of four women I called the Glasgow Grannies, whenever they came over. Fantastic group of women, youngest of which was 65 and the eldest over 80. We were talking about fish one night and I told them what the Turkish word was and they all fell about laughing at the thought of nipping in the chippy in Glasgow and asking for a Ballak supper.

Thu Sep 07, 09:01:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Sarnia said...

And Chelsea have a Ballack (German word for someone who has to pay thousands in duty for buying his squeeze a Fendi handbag in Dubai Duty Free).

Thu Sep 07, 09:26:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Sperestillan said...

Tisn't smut.
It's a sound guide to words we take for granted and today tend to misuse or misunderstand. We can't censor which words we can and can't examine.
That's my excuse anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

Thu Sep 07, 10:29:00 PM GMT+1  
Anonymous Sarnia said...

Sperestillan - I agree with you.

Fuck, for example (shock, horror swoon, faint) is a splendid example of a good old Anglo Saxon word.

I barely use it myself - only about five times a day and then generally directed towards my children.

Curmy - smelling salts available at a special offer for two for one on Gavin's Blog - offer ends Sunday.

Fri Sep 08, 12:35:00 AM GMT+1  
Anonymous Curmy said...

Thanks Sarnia, I'll avail myself of the special offer !

Fri Sep 08, 08:55:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Language said...

Thanks for this post -- you answered a question I needed answered for mine!

--LH

Thu May 24, 04:21:00 PM GMT+1  

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