Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Currying Favour with the Girls.

Pedantic barstewards could at least be more intelligent and less touchy. Especially girls. But that is just wishful thinking these days. Once was that folk with a sound command of language and a modicum of sense could choose their words and not be harangued for their troubles.  Nor have their command treated as something oppressive. But we live in strange times when 'educated' no longer means very much and intelligence is worn as a weapon to be drawn at any moment to slay an untoward pleasantry.

So it was we were reminded by a visitor to the Tavern. A 'girl' with a better than average command of words and their meaning ..... and even their heritage and provenance.

As she sounded forth I thought of the highly intelligent mensa girl who turned her back on this old Knight when he addressed her as "M'dear". Not only that but had a fit of the vapours, claiming, nay wailing, that she 'felt uncomfortable'. Poor Hi-IQ girl had to rush to her teddy bear and colouring-in books and to check that her PhD was still virgo intacta. Heck sirrah, I was not even trying to curry favour with the wench.

Think of the conniptions had I called her "M'girl"

It was the girls on the 'Chick's' table on the right - they have no objection at all to being called Chicks or even Girls - who started it off. The conversation, that is. Mockarena was the one:
Proper English Grammar Is Racist And Oppressive, According To “Everyday Feminism.”
I have no idea how I missed this before, but I did, and I'm kinda wishing now that a clever and competent reader hadn't put it on our FB page, because I read it, and now my head hurts from all of the ridiculousness in this article. 
It's written by an English teacher, and it's about grammar and how oppressive and racist it can be.  No joke.  And because it's written by someone who ostensibly cares a great deal about correct syntax and proper sentence construction, it's written really well.   
Unfortunately, it just says a lot of really really really ridiculous stuff.
Because the author is a social justice warrior (I know), she has a problem with "grammar snobbery in social justice movements" and believes that "purporting one form of English as elite is inherently oppressive."
And she actually suggests that positioning the "prescriptive" grammarian as better than the "descriptive" grammarian  is OPPRESSIVE. Why?   
Because the dictionary was created by "a white supremacist, heteropatriarchal system."   
I'm not even making that up.  In fact, she insists that people who desire and expect correct grammar (prescriptive grammarians) are, OF COURSE, "privileged."  Educationally privileged.  Class privileged.  Native Language privileged. Ability privileged. White privileged.
You can go and sit with them to hear the rest. They will share their dictionary with you if you curry favour with them.

But one of my other girl customers, Dot, also had a ridiculous example of strange, fragile wimmin that are bent into feminist mis-shapes.  A Professor who would carp all over the carpet in the Tavern if I was foolish enough to let her in. But let Dot Wordsworth tell the tale:
Of course ‘girl’ can mean ‘woman’. 
It has done for centuries
If your dictionary tells you otherwise, you need a bigger dictionary.
Sir Roger Gale sounds like an old-bufferish knight of the shires, but he once worked as a disc-jockey on a pirate radio station. Last week he got into hot water when he said on the radio that his wife was ‘utterly dedicated to her job, as indeed are the other girls in my office’. 
Before he knew it, Today got some American academic on air to denounce him. ‘We know, looking in the dictionary,’ she said, ‘that girl means a young woman only up to the age of 11 or 12.’
It would have to be a 'she' wouldn't it. And watch what was that about old-buffer Knights?  
This bossy woman should get a bigger dictionary to look in. There is plenty of evidence that girl has meant ‘woman’ for centuries. In its earliest history it signified ‘a young person’ of either sex. The Oxford English Dictionary avers that it still does in Wexford, hard as it may be to believe.
Get away ! How many of us knew that? 
Even without a dictionary to look in, we all know girl can mean a grown-up. 'Me and My Girl' is a popular musical not dealing with kiddies. London after dark is swamped with women having a 'girls’ night out'. A dear old girl is on a par with a nice old boy. Shakespeare uses girl for ‘adult women’ in more than one play.
Where has this doctrinaire American been? '
She has been through the feminist education mill, m'dear, which starts at kindy and is found all the way up to PhD in Whineing. 
She seems determined to find 'girl' offensive. 
Sir Roger spoke in an informal register, but must we talk like a management textbook about people with whom we get on well? The would-be genteel may say ladies, which is twee. 'Women' can make them sound like fishwives. Girls is friendly.
True, prostitutes are called girls.
A.H. Clough wrote in 1848 of ‘The streets of the dissolute city,/ Where dressy girls slithering by upon pavements give sign for accosting.’ 
That was in ‘The Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich’, a title the poet discovered with embarrassment hid an obscene Gaelic pun on the meaning ‘bearded well’, for which reason he changed it to ‘The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich’.
Not many people know that, as a well known actor would have said. A pint for his name. 
‘I was so disgusted with the mishap of the name,’ he wrote to William Allingham, ‘that I have never had pleasure in it [the poem] since.’
We all make verbal errors, but I doubt if Sir Roger will in future be disgusted with the word girl.
What is the betting that the feminist Professors has neither read not heard of Arthur Clough? Who has not read his famed poem "Say not the Struggle Naught availeth": and its wonderful line... 
"If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars:"

He is part of our heritage, for goodness sake.

But I am not trying to curry favour with the poets. 

At that, Dot gave a broad smile.

"Curry favour? That's not the first time you've said that Tavern-Keeper".
The most unlikely origin I’ve ever seen for a common phrase
The story behind ‘curry favour’ seems unbelievable. But the evidence is there
The number of things I don’t know is infinite — or infinite minus one, if such as number exists, since I discovered something the other day: the most unlikely origin for a common phrase. I could hardly believe it at first.
A perfectly current idiom in English is to talk of people currying favour, in the sense of ‘ingratiating themselves’. 
I knew that currying here had nothing to do with the kind of curry we eat with rice, the name of which we borrowed from Tamil in the 17th century.
I supposed, right enough, that the currying of favour was the sort done with a curry-comb when rubbing down a horse. The horsy curry came to us in the 13th century, from Old French conrei, meaning ‘preparation’.
I wasn’t ready, however, for the favour to be a false friend too. 
But history shows that the favour in question was originally favel, ‘a chestnut horse’. Curry favel was the way it was written from the 15th to the 17th century.
Suddenly, for me, all meaning had been emptied from the idiom. Why should rubbing down a chestnut horse mean ‘ingratiating oneself’ any more than another random phrase such as scorching the cheese or blowing the doormat?
Favel, as a horse-colour, is a variant of fallow (as in fallow-deer), and fallow is related to the Latin pallidus. The equus pallidus was ridden by Death in the Book of Revelation: Death on a pale horse. 
But the idiom currying favour has nothing to do with rubbing down the horse of Death.
The Favel referred to is the name of the hero of a medieval tale, the Roman de Fauvel. He is the equine version of Reynard the Fox. Fauvel the horse, thanks to Dame Fortune, exchanges his stable for a palace and is thus admired and flattered by worldly folk, lay and clerical. Those who want to flatter him make sure they curry Fauvel. Eventually Fauvel wins in marriage Lady Vainglory.
It is even possible to buy a recording of music found in the early 14th-century manuscript of the tale. I did not know anything about that until this week — but how little we do know of the words we use so easily.
Many, many thanks to a wordy Dot Wordsworth. Worth a pint in any Tavern, especially this one.

So drinks all round; for Dot, Mockarena and even one for old Arthur. I shall pour one on his headstone and give you his poem for free.

SAY not the struggle naught availeth, 
         The labour and the wounds are vain, 
The enemy faints not, nor faileth, 
         And as things have been they remain. 

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars; 
         It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd, 
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers, 
         And, but for you, possess the field. 

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, 
         Seem here no painful inch to gain, 
Far back, through creeks and inlets making, 
         Comes silent, flooding in, the Main. 

And not by eastern windows only, 
         When daylight comes, comes in the light; 
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly! 
         But westward, look, the land is bright!

Great stuff.

It might arm us and cheer us as we fight the yobs and pseuds and Profs and yea even unto Hi-IQ girls with the cradle marks still on their bums. who would silence us with carping criticisms.


(Do not forget to check on the Southern Gal's progress)


  1. One rather thinks of carts and horses.....

  2. One rather thinks of carts and horses..... We had English grammar long before we had (Marxist) feminists.

    1. But which will last the course and which will fall at the hurdles.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..