Category Archives: United Kingdom

The British English Slang: Q to Z


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang Q to Z

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.Q

Queer as a clockwork orange: Very odd indeed; ostentatiously homosexual.

Queer Street: A difficult or odd situation, e.g. “up Queer Street”.

Queer someone’s pitch: Take the pitch of another street vendor, busker or similar; spoil someone else’s efforts.

Quim: Vagina (possibly a play on the Welsh word for valley, cwm).

R

Rat arsed: Drunk, sloshed; plastered; loaded.

Richard the Third: A piece of excrement (rhyming slang Richard the Third = turd).

Ring: Anal sphincter.

Ringburner: A curry; diarrhoea; painful defecation.

Roger: To copulate; to screw; to have your wicked way with a lady.

Rozzer: Policeman.

Rubber Johnny: Condom.

Rumpy pumpy: A phrase used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

S

Savvy (from the French, savoir): Knowledge; understanding.

Scally, scallywag: A hooligan youth.

Scarper: Run away.

Scouser: A person from Liverpool.

Scrote: Term of abuse, from scrotum.

Scrubber: A promiscuous woman (in Britain); a common or working class woman (in Ireland).

Scrummy: A word used to describe some food that was particularly good, and probably sweet and fattening.

Scrump: To steal fruit, especially apples.

See a man about a dog: What a person would say as an excuse for leaving, to hide their real destination, to attend a secret deal or meeting. This phrase is also used to excuse oneself to go to the toilet to shit.

Shag: Sexual intercourse.

Shagged: The past historic of shag; extremely tired, e.g. “shagged out”.

Shambolic: A state of chaos.

Shiner: Black eye.

Shitehawk: Someone of little worth.

Shit-faced: Drunk.

Shirty: Ill-tempered, insolent.

Shufti: To take a look at something. An old Arabic word, picked up by British soldiers during World War II, in North Africa.

Sixes and sevens: In a mess; topsy turvy; somewhat haywire!

Skanky: Dirty, particularly of a marijuana pipe.

Skew-whiff: Crooked.

Skint: Without money.

Skive: a lazy character; a useless person; avoid doing something.

Slag: Worthless or insignificant person; a promiscuous woman; a prostitute.

Slag off: A verbal attack; to criticise or slander; to bad mouth in a nasty manner.

Slap-head: A bald man.

Slap and tickle: making out or heavy petting.

Slapper: An oversexed female; a tart; a tramp; promiscuous woman; prostitute.

Slash: Urinate; urination; pee; piss; piddle; siphon the python; shake the snake; wee; having a jimmy.

Sling one’s hook: Go away.

Sloshed: Drunk; plastered.

Smarmy: A smoothy, who has a way with the ladies.

Snog: French kiss; any prolonged physical intimacy without undressing or sexual contact.

Snookered: Placed in a bad situation.

Sod: Annoying person or thing (derived from sodomite).

Sod off: Piss off; go away.

Spawny: Lucky.

Spend a penny: Use the restroom.

Spunk: Semen; ejaculate; courage; bravery.

Stag Night: Bachelor Party

Starkers: Fully naked.

Steaming: Extremely drunk; extremely angry.

Stonker: A boner.

Strawberry creams: Breasts.

Stuffed: Sexual intercourse, e.g. “get stuffed”; used negatively to mean bothered, e.g. “I can’t be stuffed to do that!”; having a full belly, e.g. “I am completely stuffed, and can’t eat another thing.”

T

Tad: A little bit.

Take the mickey: To tease; to mock.

Take the piss (out of), taking the piss: Messing and screwing around; making fun of; to mock.

Tart: A prostitute; a term of abuse for a woman; used affectionately for a lover; shortened version of sweetheart.

Tickety-Boo: Phrase that means everything is going well.

Todger: Dick.

Toff: A person belonging to the upper class; a posh person.

Ton: A large unspecified amount (18th century); £100 (1940s); 100 MPH (1950s); any unit of 100 (1960s), e.g. a century scored in cricket.

Tosh: total bullshit, nonsense or rubbish.

Tosser: Idiot; a derogatory term for a male masturbator; an affectionate form of address, e.g. “All right you old tosser!”.

Tosspot: Drunkard; habitual drinker.

Tube: The London Underground (19th century. Originally ‘Tuppeny tube’); Penis; a person (Scottish); a general term of contempt (Irish, 1950s).

Twat: Vagina; a term of abuse; to hit hard.

Twig and berries: male genitalia, the penis and balls.

U

Up for it: Willing to have sex.

Up The Duff: Pregnant.

W

Wacky backy: marijuana.

Wag off: Skyve; play truant.

Wank: Masturbation; to masturbate; inferior.

Wanker: Masturbator; Idiot; abusive term for someone the speaker doesn’t like.

Wankered: Very drunk; exhausted.

Wanking spanner: Hand.

Warts and all: Including all negative characteristics.

Wazzock: Stupid.

Whinge: Whine.

Whizz: Urination; to move very fast.

Wicked: Cool!

Willy: Penis (hypocorism).

Willy-waving: Acting in an excessively macho fashion.

Wind up: Tease; irritate; annoy; anger.

Wonky: Not right

Y

Yank: Septic tank.

Z

Zonked: Tired.

 

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The British English Slang: K to P


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang K to P

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K

Keep your pecker up: Keep your chin up.

Khazi, karzy, kharsie: A privy; toilet.

Kip: Sleep; nap; bed; lodging; brothel (mainly Irish).

Knackered: Extremely tired; broken; useless.

Knackers: Vulgar name for testicles.

Knees up: A lively party or dance.

Knob: Penis (noun); to have sexual intercourse (verb).

Knob-end: Ttip of penis; an idiot.

Knob Head: Dickhead; an idiot; a stupid; an irritating person.

Knob jockey: Homosexual.

Knock off: To steal it, not to copy it!

Knock up: To wake someone up.

Knockers: Women’s breasts.

Knocking shop: A Brothel.

Know one’s onions: Knowledgeable; to be well acquainted with a subject.

L

Lag: Convict, particularly a long serving one (an old lag).

Lash: Urinate; alcohol.

Lashed: Inebriated.

Laughing gear: Mouth.

Leg it: Run or run for it.

Local: A public house close to one’s home.

Lolly: Money.

Loo: Lavatory.

Lost the plot: Gone crazy; become mentally unstable.

Lurgy: Sick; under the weather.

M

Manky: Dirty; filthy.

Marbles: Wits. As in, to lose one’s marbles.

Mare: A derogatory term for a Woman.

Mark: A suitable victim for a con or swindle.

Mate: Friend; chum.

Matelot: Sailor (derived from the French).

Meat and Two Veg: Euphemism for male genitalia. Also used sometimes to mean something unremarkable or ordinary.

Mental: Crazy; insane.

Mick: A derogatory term for an Irishman.

Miffed: Upset or offended.

Minge: Vagina.

Minger: Someone who smells.

Minted: Wealthy.

Mizzle: Decamp.

Moggy: Cat.

Moke: Donkey.

Monged (out): Severely drunk.

Mooch: Loiter or wander aimlessly; skulk.

Moolah: Money.

Moon: To expose one’s backside.

Moony: Crazy; foolish.

Morish or moreish: Need more!

Muck about: Waste time; interfere with.

Mucker: Mate; pal.

Muck in: Share a duty or workload.

Mufti: An old army term for civilian dress worn by someone who normally wears a military uniform. The word probably derived from the Muslim dress, popularly worn by British officers serving in India during the 19th century. Now commonly used to refer to a non-uniform day in schools.

Mug: Face; a gullible or easily swindled person.

Munta: Ugly person.

Mush: Face or mouth. Example: “shut your mush”.

N

Naff: Inferior or in poor taste.

Nancy boy: looking pathetic.

Nark: In a bad mood; grumpy (an old nark); annoy or irritate; a spy or informant.

Ned: A lout; a drunken brawling fellow; a tough guy. Sometimes equated with the English chav.

News: Looking pathetic; a bit of a Nancy boy.

Nick: Steal; police station or prison; to arrest; health condition, e.g. “to be in good nick”.

Nicked: Stolen; arrested.

Nob: A person of high social standing; head.

Nobble: Disable (particularly a racehorse).

Nod out: To lapse into a drug induced stupor.

Nonce: A prison slang for Sex offender, most commonly a child molester.

Nookie or nooky: Sexual intercourse.

Nose rag: Handkerchief.

Nosh: Food; to eat.

Nosh up: A feast or large, satisfying meal.

Nowt: Nothing.

Numpty: Incompetent or unwise person.

Nut: Head; an eccentric person.

Nutcase: An insane person.

Nuthouse: A lunatic asylum.

Nutmeg: In association football, to pass the ball between an opposing player’s legs.

Nuts or nutty: Crazy or insane.

Nutter: Crazy person; insane person.

O

Odds and sods: Miscellaneous items or articles; bits and pieces. Substitute for ‘odds and ends’.

Oik: A derogatory term for someone of a lower social standing.

Off one’s head or out of one’s head: Mad or delirious.

Off one’s trolley: Mad; out of one’s mind.

Off the hook: Free from obligation or danger.

Off one’s nut: Crazy or foolish.

Off to Bedfordshire: Going to bed.

Old Bill: A policeman or the police collectively.

On the piss: binge drinking to get totally smashed.

On the pull: Looking for sexual intercourse.

One’s head off: Loud or excessively, e.g. “I laughed my head off.”

Owt: Anything.

P

Packet: A large sum of money, e.g. “earn a packet”; a nasty surprise, e.g. “catch a packet”.

Paddy: A fit of temper; a derogatory term for an Irishman.

Paki: A derogatory term for a Pakistani. Sometimes used to loosely describe anyone or anything from the Indian sub- continent.

Paki-bashing: Unprovoked attacks on Pakistanis living in Britain.

Pants: Panties; total crap.

Parky: Cold weather.

Paste: To hit, punch or beat soundly.

Pasting: A sound thrashing or heavy defeat.

Pavement Pizza: A euphemism for puke or vomit.

Peanuts: Cheap.

Pear shaped: Become a disaster.

Peepers: Eyes.

Penny-dreadful: A cheap, sensationalist magazine.

Phiz or phizog: The face (from a 17th-century colloquial shortening of physiognomy).

Pickled: Drunk.

Pie-eyed: Drunk.

Pig’s ear: Cockney slang rhyming with beer; something that has been badly done or has been made a mess of.

Pikey: Pejorative term used, mainly in England to refer to travellers, gypsies or vagrants. Sometimes also used to describe people of lower social class or morals.

Pillock: Stupid or annoying person.

Pinch: Steal; robbery; sail too close to the wind (nautical slang).

Pissed, pissed up: Drunk

Pip pip: An out-dated expression meaning goodbye.

Piss up: A drinking session.

Plastered: Fully drunk.

Plonk: A pejorative word used to describe red wine of poor quality.

Plonker: Something large or substantial; penis.

Porkies: Old Cockney rhyming word for “lies”, derived from “pork pies,” which rhymes with lies.

Potty: A little crazy; looney; one card short of a full deck.

Puff: Fart.

Pukka: Super or smashing.

Pull: Looking for birds.

Punt: To gamble, wager or take a chance; to sell or promote.

Punter: Gambler; a victim in a confidence trick or swindle; a customer, patron or a client of a prostitute.

Pussy: Cat as in “pussy cat”, or in the fairytale, Puss in Boots; female genitalia.

Put a sock in it: Shut up.

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The British English Slang: D to J


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang D to J

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D

Daft: Stupid.

Daft cow: A stupid person.

Darbies: Handcuffs.

Debag: To remove another person’s trousers by force.

Dear: Expensive.

Dekko: Look. Derived from Hindi.

Dick: Fellow; penis.

Dicky: Feel sick.

Dip: Pickpocket.

Dishy: Attractive; good looking.

Div: idiot (prison slang)

Do: A party; prosecute.

Do one’s nut: Get angry.

Dobber: Penis.

Doddle: Something simple or easy to do.

Dodgy: Suspicious; something risky, difficult or dangerous.

Dog: A fellow; a rough or unattractive woman.

Dog’s Bollocks: Awesome; extremely good; favorable; great; really fantastic. Sometimes abbreviated to, “it’s the dog’s”.

Dog’s dinner: Make a real mess of something; ugly.

Done up like a kipper: Beaten up; fitted up or framed; caught red-handed by the police.

Donkey’s years: For ages; a very long time. Sometimes abbreviated to, “donkey’s”.

Doofer: An unnamed object.

Dosser: A person who might stay in a dosshouse.

Dosshouse: A cheap boarding house frequented by tramps.

Dressed like a dog’s dinner: Wears clothes inappropriate for the occasion or too formal.

Duck: A term of endearment used in the North of England.

Duff: Useless, junk, trash; broken, not working; pregnant (up the duff).

Duffer: A useless person.

E

Earwig: To eavesdrop.

Eating irons: Cutlery.

End away: To have sex.

F

Fag: Cigarette.

Fag end: The used stub of a cigarette, and by extension the unpleasant and worthless loose end of any situation.

Fanny: Vagina; a woman’s front bits; female external genitalia; a woman’s pudendum.

Fanny Adams: Nothing at all. A euphemism for fuck all. Usually preceded by ‘sweet’ and often abbreviated to F.A., S.F.A. or sweet F.A.

Fanny around: Procrastinate.

Fence: A person who deals in stolen property.

Fiddle sticks: A swear word.

Filch: To steal or pilfer.

Filth (the): The police (derogatory).

Fit: Hot or sexually desirable.

Fit up: A frame up.

Flasher: A person who exposes oneself indecently.

Flick: The cinema; motion picture; film.

Flog: To sell.

Flog a dead horse: Try to find a solution to an unsolvable problem; to continue talking about a long forgotten topic.

Flutter: To place a wager, usually a small one by someone who is not a serious gambler.

Fly: Clever; quick witted.

Fork out: To pay out, usually with some reluctance.

French letter: Condom.

Frig: To masturbate.

Frig around or frig about: To behave aimlessly or foolishly.

Frigging: The act of masturbating; used as an intensifier, e.g. “You frigging idiot”. Considered milder than ‘fucking idiot’.

Frog: A derogatory term for a Frenchman.

Fruity: Frisky.

Fuck all: Nothing at all

Full of beans: To have loads of energy.

Fuzz (the): The police.

G

Gaff: House or flat.

Gaffer: Employer; boss; foreman.

Gagging: Desperate; not nice.

Gallivanting: Fooling around; horseplay.

Gander: To look around. Usually preceded by ‘have a’ or ‘take a’.

Gash: Surplus to requirements, unnecessary; a derogatory term used for female genitalia.

Gassed: Drunk.

Geezer: An old man.

Gen: Information.

Gen up: Do research; get some information.

Git: Incompetent; stupid; annoying; childish person.

Give you a bell: Call you.

Go down: To go to prison.

Go spare: To become angry; frustrated; distressed; enraged.

Gob: Mouth; spittle; to spit.

Gobby: Opinionated.

Gobshite: A stupid or despicable person.

Gobsmacked: Amazed; awed; flabbergasted; dumbfounded; astounded; speechless.

Gogglebox: Television.

Gong: A medal. Usually a military one.

Goolies: The male genitals and in particular the testicles.

Gormless: Clueless.

Grot: Rubbish or dirt.

Grub: Food.

Guff: Ridiculous talk; nonsense; flatulence.

Gutted: Really upset.

H

Half-inch: To steal. Rhyming slang for ‘pinch’.

Hampton: Penis.

Hampton Rock: Rhyming slang for ‘Cock’.

Hampton Wick: Rhyming slang for ‘Prick’.

Handbags: A harmless fight, especially between two women.

Hard cheese: Bad luck.

Helmet: The glans of the penis.

Hen Party: Bachelorette Party

Her Majesty’s Pleasure: Incarcerated; to be put in prison with no release date!

Honk: Vomit.

Hook: To steal.

Hook it: To run away quickly.

Hooky or hookey: Something that is stolen. Loosely used to describe anything illegal.

Hooter: Nose.

Horses for courses: Won’t work for someone else

How is Your Father?”: Euphemism for sexual intercourse or other sexual activity. Read my article “How is your father?

Hump: To carry or heave; have sex.

Hunky-dory: Excellent; cool and groovy; going according to plan; no worries; going well.

I

Idiot box: Television.

Inside: In or into prison.

It’s Monkeys Outside!: It’s very cold outside!

Ivories: Teeth; the keys of a piano; dice.

J

Jacksy or jacksie: The buttocks or anus.

Jack the lad: A young man regarded as a show off and is brash or loud.

Jack up: Inject an illegal drug.

Jag: A drug taking, or sometimes drinking, binge; a period of uncontrolled activity.

Jammy: Lucky; flukey; pleasant; desirable.

Jerry: A chamber pot; a German; a German soldier.

Jessie: An effeminate man; one that is weak or afraid.

Jism or jissom: Semen.

Jock: Word or term of address for a Scot.

Joe Bloggs: An average, typical or unremarkable man.

Joe Soap: An idiot; stooge; scapegoat.

Johnny or Johnny bag: Condom.

John Thomas: Penis.

Josser: A simpleton.

Jump: Sexual intercourse.

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The British English Slang: A to C


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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British English Slang A to C

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A

Absobloodylootely: Yes!

Ace: Awesome.

Aggro: Short for aggravation; trouble.

All mouth and (no) trousers: All talk and no action; a braggart; sexual bravado. (The inclusion or otherwise of “no” in the expression is disputed.)

All piss and wind: Only talk and no action. Originally the19th century phrase was, “all wind and piss”.

All to cock (or all a-cock): Unsatisfactory; mixed up.

Argy-bargy: An argument; confrontation.

Arse: The buttocks; someone who acts in a manner which is incompetent or otherwise disapproved of.

Arse about face: Doing something back to front.

Arse around: Mess around; or waste time.

Arse bandit: A derogatory term homosexual.

Arse over elbow: Head over heels.

Arse over tit: Head over heels; to fall over or take a tumble; embarrassing fall; to topple over. (Another version of arse over elbow, but a bit more graphic!)

Arsehole: The anus (a general derogatory term).

B

Baccy: tobacco, the sort you use to roll your own.

Ball bag: Scrotum.

Balls up: A bungled or messed up situation. (WWI Service slang)

Bang: Having sex.

Bang to rights: Caught in the act.

Bang up: To lock up in prison (prison slang); to inject an illegal drug.

Barmy: Crazy; nsane; a derogatory remark.

Barney: A noisy quarrel or fight

Bee’s Knees: Awesome.

Bellend: The end part of a penis.

Belt up: Shut up.

Bender: A derogatory term for a homosexual; a pub crawl; a heavy drinking session.

Bent: A dishonest or corrupt person; homosexual (mildly derogatory).

Bent as a nine bob note: Extremely dishonest or corrupt. A shilling (bob) note never existed and would therefore have to be counterfeit.

Berk: An idiot; stupid person.

Bespoke: Custom Made.

Best of British: Good luck, short for “best of British luck”.

Biggie: Term a child might use for his poo; an erection.

Bird: Girl; woman; jail time.

Birmingham screwdriver: A hammer.

Bizzie: Policeman (Scouse / Liverpool English).

Bladdered: Drunk.

Blag: A robbery (noun); to rob (verb).

Blague: Talking nonsense.

Blah (or blah blah): Worthless, boring or silly talk.

Blighty (or Old Blighty): Britain; home. Used especially by British troops serving abroad or expatriates.A relic of British India, probably from the Hindi billayati, meaning a foreign land.

Blimey!: An exclamation of shock or surprise similar to “My Goodness!” A corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Blinding: Awesome.

Blinkered: Narrow minded; narrow sighted

Bloke: Any man or sometimes a man in authority such as the boss.

Bloody: Damn. One of the most useful swear words in English!

Blooming, blummin’ (archaic): An alternative or euphemism for the word “bloody”. Used as an intensifier e.g. “blooming marvellous”.

Blow me: It is not a request for services to be performed, but an exclamation of surprise. Short for “Blow me down”. It is something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to “Knock me down with a feather”.

Blow off: Fart.

Blue: Policeman; a Tory.

Bo-Peep: Sleep.

Bob’s your uncle: That’s it! This is a well used phrase is added to the end of sentences like “… and that’s it!”

Bobby: Policeman.

Bod: A male person. Short for body.

Bodge (also botch): To make a mess of or to fix poorly.

Bog: Toilet.

Bog off: Go away (originally RAF slang).

Bog Roll: Toilet paper.

Bogtrotter: A derogatory term for an Irishman particularly an Irish peasant.

Bollocking: A severe telling off.

Bollocks: Balls; vulgar term used for testicles; talking rubbish; total shit; useless; nonsense; having poor quality.

Bomb: Expensive; going really well; really fast; to travel at high speed.

Bonce: Head, crown of the head. Also a large playing marble.

Bonk: To have sex

Booze: An alcoholic drink (noun); to drink alcohol (verb), particularly to excess.

Boozer: Someone who consumes alcohol to excess; a pub or bar.

Boracic: without money.skint.

Bottle: Have no fear; Courage after twenty pints of lager; money collected by buskers or street vendors; to attack someone with a broken bottle.

Bounce: To con someone into believing or doing something; to forcibly eject someone; swagger; impudence or cockiness.

Bouncer: A person employed to eject drunks and troublemakers.

Brass: Money; Cheek, nerve; a prostitute.

Brassed off: Fed up; pissed.

Brill: Brilliant; cool.

Bristols: The female breasts.

Bristol bits: Tits.

Bristol City: Titty..

Broke: Without money. Also ‘stoney broke’, or just ‘stoney’.

Brown bread: Dead.

Brown-tongue: Sycophant; toady or a person who attempts to curry favour with another.

Budge up: Move and make some space.

Buff: Bare skin Example: naked as in ‘in the buff’); having a lean, muscular physique (usually referring to a young man).

Bugger: As a term of abuse for someone or something contemptible, difficult or unpleasant; as an endearment, as in ‘you silly bugger’; as an exclamation of dissatisfaction, annoyance or surprise – Jerk, Fuck, Shit; to mean tired or worn out as in ‘I’m absolutely buggered; to mean frustrate, complicate or ruin completely, as in ‘You’ve buggered that up’.

Bugger about (or bugger around): To fool around or waste time; to create difficulties or complications.

Bugger all: Nothing.

Bugger off!: Go away!; Leave me alone!

Bum: Buttocks, anus or both; a tramp; scrounge.

Bumf: Derogatory reference to official memos or paperwork; toilet roll. Shortened from bum fodder.

Bumsucker: A toady, creep or someone acting in an obsequious manner.

Bung: Throw; bribe.

Bunk: To leave inappropriately as in to ‘bunk off’ school or work; to run away in suspicious circumstances as in to ‘do a bunk’.

C

Cabbage: A stupid person or someone with no mental abilities; cloth trimmed from a customer’s material by a tailor; pilfer or steal.

Carzey: A privy; toilet.

Chap: Male; friend.

Charver or charva: Sexual intercourse; a loose woman; someone with whom it is easy to have sexual intercourse; an easy lay; to mess up, spoil or ruin.

Chat Up: Flirt; try and pick someone.

Chav, chavi or chavvy: Child (from the Romany, chavi. Still used in rural areas).

Chav: white trash; a person who is, or pretends to be of a low social standing and who dresses in a certain style, typically badly or in sports clothing. Often used as a form of derogation.

Cheesed off: Fed up; disgusted; angry.

Chin Wag: Chat.

Chip shop: A carpentry.

Chippy: A carpenter.

Chuff: The buttocks; anus.

Chuffed: Pleased; proud.

Cobblers: talk rubbish; a load of bollocks.

Cock: Penis; nonsense; a friend or fellow.

Cockup or cock-up: Screw up; blunder; mess up; botch..

Codswallop: Talking baloney; nonsense.

Collywobbles: An upset stomach; acute feeling of nervousness.

Conk: The head or the nose; to strike the head or nose.

Cop: A policeman (short for copper).

Cor: An expression of surprise similar to “My Goodness!”

Cor blimey: An exclamation of surprise. It is a corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Corker: An outstanding someone or something.

Cottage: A public lavatory.

Cottaging: Homosexual activity in a public lavatory.

Cracker: Someone or something of notable ability or quality.

Cracking: Stunning; the best.

Crackers: Insane.

Cram: Study hard.

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“How is your father?”


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Be careful when you ask a modern British woman ‘how her father is’. You know not what you’re asking! She might even slap you.

The origin of the phrase is open to interpretation. The Urban Dictionary has seven thoughts about where it could have come from.

The first instance about the phrase “How is your father?” is hilarious.

Writer and historian Michael Kelly, a New Zealander, traces the origin of the expression “How’s your father?” to the Victorian era.

In those days, men with daughters were very protective. The fathers took extraordinary measures to safeguard the virtue of their unmarried daughters.

Unmarried girls were kept within the bosom of their family and chaperoned on excursions. On those occasions when let out-of-bounds for social events, their fathers would often go with them discreetly.

Victorian fashions

Believe it or not, those fathers used to hide underneath the voluminous skirts of their daughters, ready to pounce on any man who transgressed the bounds of propriety.

This was okay for a father with a single daughter. But how about a father with more than one daughter? He couldn’t be everywhere at once! So, a suitor having a discrete vis-à-vis with his girl, to find out her father’s whereabouts would cautiously ask: “Annie, how is your father?

If the girl’s father was now under her skirts, she would glance downwards to mean ‘Not now, Peter!’. She would then reply, “My father is well, thank you.” She might even add “He is alert and vigorous as ever, and maintains his interest in rusty castrating implements.

Her beau would then say, “I have always had the greatest respect for your father, and of course for you. Let us hold hands and think about the Queen for a while.

If the girl’s father was elsewhere, she might reply, “The mad old bastard is now between my sister Elizabeth’s thighs. Let us go into the garden and rut like stoats.

Pair of stoats

Hence, the phrase “How is your father?” became a euphemism for you-know-what.

Hurry Curry to Brazil for Bangladeshi FIFA Fans


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Mustafa Azim, a director of Imperial Air Salvage, is a Bangladeshi. When Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster The Edge of Tomorrow was being shot at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, the Imperial Air Salvage provided planes to be blown up on the set.

Azim and a couple of his friends have tickets for the World Cup final. Many of his football crazy friends from Bangladesh are already in Brazil. Since curry, rice, and fish are the main items in their regular diet, they were disappointed when they realized that there are no Indian restaurants in Brazil and intimated him.

Waiter Habib Miah with restaurant owner and chef Mohammed Wahid (Source: worthingherald.co.uk)
Waiter Habib Miah with restaurant owner and chef Mohammed Wahid (Source: worthingherald.co.uk)

So, Azim approached Mohammed Wahid, the owner of Chilcha, an Award Winning Indian Restaurant in Montague Street, Worthing, West Sussex, to arrange a 12-person delivery to Brazil of some of their favorite dishes. “Chilcha” is the Bengali word for happiness.

Azim was already aware of Wahid’s delicious, appetizing cooking when the latter provided catering on the set of The Edge of Tomorrow at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden.

Mohammed Wahid owner and chef of Chilcha Restaurant in Montague Street, Worthing. (Source: m.theargus.co.uk)
Mohammed Wahid owner and chef of Chilcha Restaurant in Montague Street, Worthing. (Source: m.theargus.co.uk)

Wahid was surprised at first and agreed to cater to him.

Mustafa Azim, will fly into Shoreham Airport on a chartered plane to collect the dishes. He will then head to an airport near Heathrow, before boarding a commercial plane to take him and the food to Brazil.

The overall cost of the delivery is £4200: £1200 for the curry, £1800 for the flight to Brazil, £1000 for a chartered flight to Shoreham to collect the takeaway, £100 landing and parking charges, and £100 for the taxi to the hotel.

 

The Travails of Traveling Abroad on a Sri Lankan Passport


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 Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” ― Blaise PascalPensées

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On April 28, 2014, I wrote an article titled “Is a Passport Necessary for the Queen of England, US President, and the Pope to Travel Abroad?”  After reading it, my friend Joe Croos, a constant reader of my posts, now living in Germantown, Maryland, USA, forwarded me the following hilarious piece of writing sent to him by his friend Tony Rajanayagam.

Neither Tony nor Joe knows who the original author of this article is. Obviously he must be a Sri Lankan.

I enjoyed reading every word of this sarcastic, thought-provoking dissertation, and wish to share it with you.

I have used my editorial discretion, to strike out two phrases in the first paragraph which, though hilarious might seem objectionable to a few. Also, I have added images to spruce up the presentation.

Sri Lanka Passport (Source:  elankanews.com)
Sri Lankan Passport (Source: elankanews.com)

There are three things in the world that are of no use to anyone, viz. a man’s breast, a priest’s balls,, and a Sri Lankan passport. The uselessness of the third item becomes absolutely clear when one tries to apply for a visa to go abroad.

Today, international travel for a bona fide traveler from Sri Lanka is fraught with unbelievable red-tape, undesirable paperwork and unforeseeable pitfalls. It is, for example, much easier for the proverbial camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an honest Sri Lankan passport holder to enter the United Kingdom. Everything in life has a price.

Ironically, these days, it is relatively easy for a Sri Lankan illegal immigrant to enter any western country of his choice and claim asylum, become a citizen and sponsor his kith and kin. This way, entire villages from Jaffna peninsula have been uprooted and are now relocated to Scarborough in Toronto, Canada.

A Sri Lankan passport is not unique. Israeli passport is the next most useless document as it is not recognized by 23 countries in the Middle East and also by North Korea and Cuba. Presenting an Israeli passport to an immigration officer in a Muslim country would be the equivalent of waving a red flag at a bull in Spain.

Although the Sri Lankan passport clearly states that “The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka requests and requires all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary” the document is more often than not treated with total disdain while its possessor is regarded with suspicion by almost all countries including Bangladesh, Benin and Bulgaria.

Although the purpose of the Sri Lankan passport is to promote and facilitate international travel, the way in which its owners are treated at foreign embassies makes one wonder if it was instead designed to dissuade and restrict international travel as much as possible.

Applying for a visa to a western country in Sri Lanka has become such a complex, confusing and complicated activity that some people, especially old men and women, come down with the condition known as “visaitis“. This is a relatively new disease which emerged in Sri Lanka at the end of July 1983.

The symptoms include a certain dryness of the mouth, dizziness, and mild dementia. Patients afflicted with this disease also suffer from outrageously watery diarrhea and are in the habit of passing urine frequently, and in rare cases, may be subject to catatonic schizophrenia. They can be nervous, irritable and immune to therapy. The mere thought of going to a western Embassy or High Commission in Sri Lanka is so traumatic that one or two people have in fact died of a broken heart, following the mandatory medical check-up.

There is a particular Hindu place of worship known affectionately as the “Visa Pillayar Temple” (VPT) in Colombo where people go to break a coconut and offer a silent prayer to ensure success prior to their interview (or interrogation) for a visa at the Embassy. Visa aspirants from places as far away as Valluvettithurai (VVT) in the north come to VPT to collect the vipoothi (holy ash), which when applied on the forehead is supposed to confer divine protection during the inquisition at the Embassy.

The insults start at the gate of an Embassy where you experience the taste of what is in store for you in the country you plan to spend your hard-earned money.

French Tricolor Flag - 1803

At the French Embassy in Colombo, rated 9.5 in the “Richter Scale of Rude Shocks,” it is the illiterate gatekeeper who functions as Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the entrance to Hades, to whom one must give the sop to slip into the Embassy.

Japanese Flag

At the Japanese Embassy in Colombo, you cannot see the visa officer through the one-way opaque glass window when you submit your application. He can see you, but you cannot see him. The experience can be quite unnerving. It is a bit like speaking to an Oracle in Greece.

Canadian flag

The application for a Canadian tourist visa is 10 pages long and has more than 60 questions, including the names, places and dates of birth of yourself, your wife, your siblings, parents, grandparents, your wife’s relatives, your in-laws and outlaws! All these details have to be submitted first electronically before you are given a date for the interview.

Bangladesh flag

Once I went to the Bangladesh Embassy in Colombo to apply for a visa. The Embassy looked more like a tuck shop and I was the only applicant. Even then that bored consular officer rudely told me that it would take five working days to issue a visa!

Indian Tri-Colour flag

In the Indian Embassy, one would witness the death of common sense. However, much you gather the required documents you need to substantiate your application for a visa, the officer will ask for the one that you forgot to bring.

US flag

By contrast, the US Embassy in Colombo offers one of the best services in the world. The US staff are extremely kind, helpful and patient and they genuinely try to assist the potential visa applicant to the best of their ability. The US evaluation process is very fair, thorough and proper. If you are a genuine visitor to the USA, you need not worry. You will get a fair hearing. All the US immigration officers are trained well to be civil and polite to the visitor. They would often engage you in small talk just to find out if you were a genuine visitor or not to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Today, many embassies have subcontracted the TT Services to deal with the initial stages of processing the visa.

New Zealand flag

More recently, on arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand (the Land of the Long White Cloud), the immigration officer asked me, very politely and with a pleasant smile, what the purpose of my visit was? When I told him that I had come to deliver a talk on elephants at the University of Canterbury, the bewildered officer exclaimed, “But we do not have elephants!” and stamped my passport and wished me a pleasant stay. It spoke so well about the country of just 4.5 million people and 60 million sheep.

WWF

Once when I worked for WWF-International, I was a member of a small working committee planning the next International Theriological (= Mammal) Congress. Two countries, Australia and Colombia, were interested in hosting the event. The Australian delegate was interested in moving the Congress to Sydney, but cautioned us that the only requirement for the visa was that none of the foreign participants had any criminal record. On hearing this, the Colombian delegate jumped up in sheer joy and informed us that on the contrary, his Government would welcome delegates with a criminal record! The Congress was held in Sydney.

In the unlikely event of a visa being issued, it does not automatically guarantee that you’d be allowed to enter the country at the other end. That depends on the mood and the maturity of the immigration officer.

United Kingdom flag

One of the most traumatic experiences one could have on arrival is at the Heathrow airport in London. You had been travelling 16 hours from Colombo and the flight lands at 9 am. It is supposed to be summer, but the sun is nowhere to be seen in the Land of Ceaseless Fog and Drizzle. Thus, even before the plane comes to a complete stop, you would get an idea of the weather that awaits you on arrival. Sometimes it appears that the plane had been taxiing through ginger beer or syrup. That’s the colour of the atmosphere outside.

Heathrow airport inside

On arrival I have to join the cattle class and then go to the queue reserved for aliens. No wonder I am often treated as if I am an extraterrestrial phenomenon!

Almost all British immigration officers are most unfriendly to non-Caucasian visitors, and often act like tinpot Hitlers. They are as hard as nails and bored as the people who serve you at McDonalds. They look miserable knowing they are stuck in dead end jobs.

Welcome at Heathrow Airport (Photo: Steve Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Welcome at Heathrow Airport (Photo: Steve Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Right behind his shoulder you can read in letters big, bright and bold, the banner that reads, “Welcome to Heathrow”. The welcome you receive is frostier than the weather outside.

The first question the bored and grumpy immigration officer with a smirk on his face asks the hapless visitor is: “When are you getting back?”

If you ask for a three-month stay in England, you are more likely to be given just a month. On the other hand, if you were to request for only a week, just to attend a conference and get back home, you may be granted a stay for six months. More disturbing is the recent news from the UK that in the future, visitors to Britain from ‘high risk’ countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ghana coming to Britain on a six-month visit visa will have to put up a 3,000 pound (equivalent to Rs. 594,000 in Sri Lankan currency) bond as security, according to the Home Secretary Theresa May.

Australian flag

Sometimes things can go wrong. During my first visit to Australia in 1990, I flew into Sydney from Jakarta. Before the plane landed, we were given immigration forms to be filled. There was an additional yellow card that had to be filled as well, and one of the questions on it was: “Are you carrying live semen?” to which I promptly ticked the yes box, given that I had already fathered two kids.

As I cleared the immigration and moved to the customs, I was stopped and taken to a small room where I was interrogated by a big, bespectacled, Wagnerian white woman with a pair of enormous Bristols and a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp. She waved a yellow card at me and exploded, “Is this a joke?”

I was genuinely clueless as to why she blew her top and asked her what was it all about, to which she pointed the box I had ticked off to say that I was indeed carrying live semen. I told her that I believed so, to which the human volcano erupted once more and thundered in no uncertain terms that it referred to livestock and warned me not to make a joke of it ever again! It was literally a seminal experience for me. The yellow card is no longer issued.

Sri Lanka flag

In the 1960s, we had a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) member from the United States who became friends with us while we were doing research on wildlife in Wilpattu national park with Dr. John F. Eisenberg from the Smithsonian Institution and his assistant Melvyn Lockhart. The VSO chap was a hippie who loved smoking ganja (marijuana). In his lucid moments he managed to learn a few words in Sinhala which Melvyn taught. 

When he left Colombo, he was in fact carrying some ganja with him, and given his long hair and hippie demeanor, he was promptly stopped by a vigilant customs officer who wanted to see the contents of his handbag. In a flash of brilliance, despite the perspiration which had commenced its journey down his spine, he began to engage the customs officer in small talk, and told him that he had lived in Ceylon for a month and that he could even speak the local language a bit. 

When the customs officer asked him to say something in Sinhala, he promptly remembered what Melvyn had taught him, and blurted out in a loud voice “මගේ පුක්කෙ මයිල් නෑ” (Transliterated: “Magey pukkay mayil naa“) meaning “my arse has no hair” in his native Texan drawl.

All the customs officers who heard him burst out in uncontrollable laughter and began to dance (a few even had tears of joy streaming down their cheeks). They complimented him on his language skill and wished him “bon voyage“. It was the hippie who had the last laugh.

Melvyn later received a “Thank you” note from Amarillo, TX.

As a Sri Lankan, I feel that we are treated abroad as if we do not matter, despite our education, ancient culture and proud heritage. We may be short on geography, but we are long on history. We deserve better treatment in the western countries. Unlike the ASEAN countries where citizens of the member states enjoy a 14-day visa free entry to each other’s country, we who belong to the SAARC cannot go to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, or Bhutan even for a short stay without a visa!

In the final analysis, given the limitations of our Sri Lankan passport, it is far better for us to enjoy a local holiday than be subject to untold indignities and interrogations at the hands of immigration officers. As Blaise Pascal once remarked, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

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A contemporary ordinary Sri Lankan passport (Author - Chamath237)
A contemporary ordinary Sri Lankan passport (Author: Chamath237)

 

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Is a Passport Necessary for the Queen of England, US President, and the Pope to Travel Abroad?


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Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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To travel abroad, one needs a passport, a travel document issued by that person’s government that normally includes information about the holder: name, date of birth, sex, nationality and place of birth. The passport helps to attest the identity and nationality of its holder.

The passport holder is normally allowed to re-enter the country that issued the passport in accordance with the laws of that country. Holding a passport does not necessarily grant the person entry into any other country, nor to consular protection while abroad, or other privileges such as immunity from arrest or prosecution.

Usually, a national passport is not issued to stateless people. They may be able to get a refugee travel document to enable them to travel internationally, and sometimes to return to the issuing country.

One of the earliest known references to a document that served the role similar to that of a passport is found in Nehemiah 2:1-9 in the Bible. In this autobiographical book, also called the “Memoirs of Nehemiah”, dating from approximately 450 BC, emerges the story of a man dedicated to the single purpose of the welfare of his people.

While serving as cupbearer to the king at the Persian court in Susa, Nehemiah received permission from his master Artaxerxes I to fortify Jerusalem and served as governor of Judah for two terms, the first lasting twelve years (445–432 BC).

In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when the wine was in my charge, I took some and offered it to the king. Because I had never before been sad in his presence, the king asked me, “Why do you look sad? If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.” Though I was seized with great fear,

I answered the king: “May the king live forever! How could I not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates consumed by fire?”

The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?”

I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king: “If it pleases the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favour, send me to Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, that I may rebuild it.”

Then the king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take and when will you return?”

My answer was acceptable to the king and he agreed to let me go; I set a date for my return.

I asked the king further: “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of West-of-Euphrates, that they may give me safe-conduct till I arrive in Judah; also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal woods, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the temple-citadel, for the city wall and the house that I will occupy.”

Since I enjoyed the good favour of my God, the king granted my requests.

Thus, I proceeded to the governors of West-of-Euphrates and presented the king’s letters to them. The king also sent with me army officers and cavalry.

In the medieval Islamic Caliphate, a form of a basic passport, the bara’a, a receipt for taxes paid was in vogue. Muslim citizens who paid their zakah, and Dhimmis, the non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state who paid their jizya as taxes were allowed to travel to different regions of the Caliphate.

The British Passport

In England, the earliest reference to documents for travel is found in a 1414 Act of Parliament. It is generally believed that King Henry V, who reigned England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422, was the first to come up with the idea of issuing the first true passport to help his subjects to prove their identity in foreign lands.

Between 1540 and 1685, the Privy Council of England granted travel documents and used the term “passport”. They were signed by the monarch until the reign of Charles II.

Etymologically, the term “passport” is derived from the document issued by the local authorities to travellers, allowing them to pass through the “porte” (French: the door, the gate) of a city wall. Generally, such documents contained a list of towns and cities the document holder was permitted to enter or pass through. At that time, a passport was not required for travel to seaports, which were considered open trading points, but it was required to travel inland from sea ports.

At that time, the passport was a simple single-sheet paper document penned in Latin or English. From 1772 onwards French was used instead.

From 1794, the Office of the Secretary of State began issuing the British passports. From then on, the Secretary of State signed all passports in place of the monarch and formal records started to be kept.

By 1855 passports became a standard document issued solely to British nationals and English was used to write passports, with some sections translated into French.

From 1914 onwards, the passport included a photograph of the holder.

Does Queen Elizabeth II carry a passport?

Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth. (Source: The official website of The British Monarchy)
Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth. (Source: The official website of The British Monarchy)

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“When travelling overseas, does Queen Elizabeth II carry a passport?” is an oft-asked question.

In 1945, when the Queen was 18, she was a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. At that time, she was given a driver licence, which became redundant in 1953 when she became Queen Elizabeth II. The World War II document signed just ‘Elizabeth‘ is one of the exhibits at the Adjutant General’s Corps Museum in Peninsula Barracks, Winchester. It was given to the then 18-year-old Princess in 1945 when she was a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

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The front cover of a British biometric passport issued since 2006. (Photographed by Benbread)
The front cover of a British biometric passport issued since 2006. (Photographed by Benbread)

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Now, the front cover of a British biometric passport issued since 2006, features the Royal Arms, and the first page declares:

Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

In the realms, namely in the 15 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is Sovereign, a similar formula is used, except that the request to “all whom it may concern” is made in the name of the realm’s Governor-General. In Canada, the request is made in the name of “Her Majesty,” by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is not necessary for The Queen to possess one. However, all other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports.

The US Passport

The United States now issues three types of passports: blue, maroon and black.

US contemporary biometric passport
US contemporary biometric passport

US official biometric passport
US official biometric passport

US Diplomatic Passport
US Diplomatic Passport

American passports had green covers from 1941 until 1976, when the cover was changed to blue, as part of the U.S. bicentennial celebration. Now, around 44 million people hold the familiar blue-covered American tourist’s passport. Green- covered passports were again issued from April 1993, until March 1994, and included a special one-page tribute to Benjamin Franklin in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the United States Consular Service.

In 1981, the United States became the first nation to introduce machine-readable passports. In 2000, the Department of State started to issue passports with digital photographs.

In 2006, the Department of State began to issue biometric passports to diplomats and other officials. Later in 2006, biometric passports were issued to the public. Since August 2007, the department has issued only biometric passports, which include RFID chips. As of 2010, all previous series have expired.

Maroon-covered “official” passports are issued to the citizen-employees of the United States government assigned overseas, either permanently or temporarily, and their eligible dependents. The Maroon-covered passports are also issued to US military personnel when deployed overseas, and to members of Congress who travel abroad on official business.

Black-covered American diplomatic passports are issued to accredited overseas American diplomats and their eligible dependents, and also to citizens who reside in the United States and travel abroad for diplomatic work.

Does the US President carry a passport?

US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama

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“When travelling overseas,  does the US President carry a passport?” is also an oft-asked question.

Yes, the US president needs a passport, but it is not like everyone else’s. The president, his immediate family, certain top officials, and diplomatic personnel are issued diplomatic passports, for which the holder need not pay a passport fee.

When the president travels, a team of people, usually from the State Department, coordinate the paperwork of the trip and hold on to the president’s passport. After the president emerges from Air Force One, waves to the crowd, and gets in his limo, he does not stand in the queue at the host country’s customs. The employees of the US State Department take his passport, and those of the others in his entourage, through the host country’s customs procedures.

One perk of the American presidency is that even when the president is out of office, he gets to keep his diplomatic passport.

Papal visits abroad

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

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The Pope holds Vatican passport number one. I doubt whether his passport is ever checked.

As the head of a state, the Pope travels as a diplomat and diplomats have far less trouble crossing borders than us, the commoners. The Pope also has diplomatic immunity and is given the same courtesy and protection in any country he visits just like any other visiting head of state would receive.

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Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 6 – Aboard the HMHS Britannic


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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HMHS Britannic (Author: Allan Green, 1878 - 1954)
HMHS Britannic (Author: Allan Green, 1878 – 1954)

The HMHS  Britannic was the third and largest Olympic-class ocean liner of the White Star Line larger than the RMS Titanic.

Some sources claim the ship was to be named “Gigantic“. At least one set of documentations exists, in which Noah Hingley & Sons Ltd., in Netherton, near Dudley, United Kingdom, discuss the order for the ship’s anchors; this documentation states that the name of the ship is Gigantic. It appears more probable that the name Gigantic must have been used informally in correspondence with Harland & Wolff before being dropped quietly. However, Tom McCluskie affirmed that in his capacity as Archive Manager and Historian at Harland & Wolff, he “never saw any official reference to the name ‘Gigantic’ being used or proposed for the third of the Olympic class vessels.

The keel for Britannic was laid on November 30, 1911, at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, 13 months after the launch of the RMS Olympic. Her watertight bulkhead was extended, higher than Titanic’s had been. Britannic was designed to carry 48 open lifeboats. Of these, 46 were to be 34 feet long, the largest lifeboats ever carried until then and two of the 46 were to be motor propelled equipped with wireless sets for communications. The other two were to be 26-foot cutters placed on either side of the bridge.

Though Britannic was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner, she never crossed the Atlantic carrying the rich and the poor to the New World.

After improvements were introduced as a consequence of the Titanic disaster, Britannic was launched at 11:10 am on February 26, 1914. Around 20 tonnes of tallow, train oil and soft soap were used to move the gigantic ship down the slipway. In 81 seconds she stood afloat in the water.  Later, she was towed to the Abercon Basin for fitting by five tugs.

The British press hailed her as “a twentieth century ship in every sense of the word” and “the highest achievement of her day in the practise of shipbuilding and marine engineering.” However, after launching, she was laid up at her builders in Belfast for many months.

In August 1914, when the first World War broke out, the shipyards in Britain focused on converting many liners for Transport of Troops. Some were converted to Hospital ships. Britannic‘s maiden voyage scheduled for April 1915 was cancelled.

On November 13, 1915, after being docked for 15 months, the British Admiralty requisitioned Britannic, which was just an empty hull, to use it as a hospital ship. She was readied in just six weeks before being put to use as a hospital ship and was given ship number 9618.

The public rooms on the upper decks were converted into wards for the wounded soldiers. The large first class dining rooms and the reception rooms were converted into operating theatres and main wards. Deck B was furnished to house the medical officers. The lower decks were fitted out for medical orderlies, other staff and the less wounded patients. In all, the ship was fitted to carry 3,309 people.

Digital plans of the Britannic in hospital ship colours by Cyril Codus. (Source: hmhsbritannic.weebly.com)
Digital plans of the Britannic in hospital ship colours by Cyril Codus. (Source: hmhsbritannic.weebly.com)

The ship’s hull was repainted in the internationally recognized colours of a hospital ship; a green band was painted along each side of the ship broken by three large red crosses, to provide her safe passage at sea. For protection at night, two large red crosses were painted on both sides of the boat deck and were highlighted at night with a band of green electric bulbs.

Renamed HMHS (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) Britannic, she entered service on December 23, 1915 under the command of Commodore Charles Alfred Bartlett.

On December 23, 1915, she entered service as His Majesty’s Hospital Ship – HMHS Britannic.

23-year-old Violet Jessop in her Voluntary Aid Detachment uniform while assigned to HMHS Britannic
23-year-old Violet Jessop in her Voluntary Aid Detachment uniform while assigned to HMHS Britannic

After her traumatic experience on the RMS Titanic, Violet Jessop secured a position with the British Red Cross as a stewardess. She was posted on HMHS Britannic.

Along with Violet on board was 27-year-old Arthur John Priest, a fireman / stoker, who, like her, had survived the collision of the RMS Olympic with the HMS Hawke, and escaped from the RMS Titanic when she sank on April 15, 1912.

Also, on board was 23-year-old Archie Jewel, one of the six lookout men on the deck of the ill-fated Titanic. On the night of April 14, 1912, he had worked the 8 pm to 10 pm shift and was in his berth when the ship hit the iceberg at 11:40 pm. He was one of the first to leave the ship on the starboard side at 12:45 pm in lifeboat 7, with just 28 people on it while the full capacity was for 65. After the Titanic, Archie was on board the SS Donegal which was sunk by enemy action in April 1917.

On December 23, 1915, HMHS Britannic left Liverpool on her maiden voyage to Moudros, on the island of Lemnos, North Aegean, Greece under the command of Commodore Charles Alfred Bartlett. She reached Moudros eight days later on December 31, 1915 and returned to Southampton on January 9, 1916.

After completing two more voyages to Naples, she was laid up on April 12, 1916.

On August 28, 1916, HMHS Britannic was recalled to active service and was given a new Transport Identification Number, G618. She made two more voyages to Moudros returning with the sick and wounded.

The HMHS Britannic left Southampton at 2:23 pm on November 12, 1916 with Captain Charles Bartlett in command on her 6th outbound voyage to Moudros. On arriving at Naples on November 17, 1916, she took on board more coal and water.

The ship was secured for two days at Naples due to a storm. On Sunday, November 19, 1916, finding a brief shift in the weather, Captain Bartlett decided to sail away from Naples. A total of 1,066 people – sick and wounded soldiers, the ship’s crew, and the medical staff – were on board.

As HMHS Britannic left the port, a storm set in and the sea rose again. The following morning, the storm passed and the sea became calm and the ship passed the Strait of Messina without any further problems. In the early hours of Tuesday, November 21, 1916, the ship rounded Cape Matapan.

At 8:00 am, Captain Bartlett changed course for the Kea Channel, in the Aegean Sea, lying between the islands of Makronisi (to her port side) and Kea (to her starboard side), just off Cape Sounion on the mainland of Greece. Chief Officer Robert Hume and Fourth Officer D. McTowis were on the Bridge along with him.

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 Previous: Part 5 – After the Titanic Disaster

To be continued

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Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 5 – After the Titanic Disaster


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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R.M.S. Carpathia by Scottvisnjic
R.M.S. Carpathia by Scottvisnjic

At full speed it took four hours for the RMS Carpathia, working her way through dangerous ice fields in the dark, to reach the RMS Titanic. When Carpathia arrived at the scene at 4 am on the morning of April 15, 1912, Titanic had already sunk. Carpathia took on around 700 survivors of the disaster from Titanic‘s lifeboats. It rescued the last of the survivors in the lifeboats by 9:15 am.

Members of a rescue crew in a whaling boat attempt to retrieve the floating body of a Titanic victim. Photograph by Joseph H. Bailey. (Source: channel.nationalgeographic.com)
Members of a rescue crew in a whaling boat attempt to retrieve the floating body of a Titanic victim. Photograph by Joseph H. Bailey. (Source: channel.nationalgeographic.com)

Out of the 2,224 people aboard RMS Titanic, 710 were saved, leaving 1,517 dead.

The figures below are from the British Board of Trade report on the disaster.

Passenger category Number aboard Number saved Number lost Percentage saved Percentage lost
Children, First Class 6 5 1 83.4% 16.6%
Children, Second Class 24 24 0 100% 0%
Children, Third Class 79 27 52 34% 66%
Women, First Class 144 140 4 97% 3%
Women, Second Class 93 80 13 86% 14%
Women, Third Class 165 76 89 46% 54%
Women, Crew 23 20 3 87% 13%
Men, First Class 175 57 118 33% 67%
Men, Second Class 168 14 154 8% 92%
Men, Third Class 462 75 387 16% 84%
Men, Crew 885 192 693 22% 78%
Total 2224 710 1514 32% 68%

Captain Edward Smith,  Chief Officer Henry Wilde, First Officer William Murdoch, Thomas Andrews, the naval architect of RMS Titanic, Jack Phillips, the senior Marconi radio operator, were among those lost with the sinking ship.

In this 1912 photo made available by the Library of Congress, Harold Bride, surviving wireless operator of the Titanic, with feet bandaged, is carried up the ramp of RMS Carpathia
In this 1912 photo made available by the Library of Congress, Harold Bride, surviving wireless operator of the Titanic, with feet bandaged, is carried up the ramp of RMS Carpathia

Harold Bride after being picked up by the RMS Carpathia assisted Harold Cottam in dealing with a constant exchange of messages in the following hours.

Lifeboat 12 reached the RMS Carpathia at 8:30 am where Jack was reunited with his mother. A kind passenger on the Carpathia gave Jack his pajamas and a bunk to sleep. Later, Jack Thayer reflected that the brandy he had drunk on that day was his first shot of hard liquor.

After being picked up by the RMS Carpathia, Bruce Ismay was taken to the ship’s doctor, Frank Mcgee’s cabin. Ismay gave Captain Rostron a message to send to White Star Line’s New York office:

Deeply regret advise you Titanic sank this morning after collision with iceberg, resulting in serious loss of life. Full particulars later.

During the entire journey to New York on board RMS Carpathia, Ismay never left Dr. Mcgee’s cabin. He did not eat any solid food and had to be kept under the influence of opiates.

After visiting Ismay, Jack Thayer said:

“[Ismay] was staring straight ahead, shaking like a leaf. Even when I spoke to him, he paid absolutely no attention. I have never seen a man so completely wrecked.”

The RMS Carpathia finally reached New York on April 18, 1912. Guglielmo Marconi, visited his exhausted radio operators on board. He himself had plans to  to cross the Atlantic on the ill-fated RMS Titanic, but had changed his plans. He arrived In New York on the RMS Lusitania.

After their arrival in New York, Jack Thayer, his mother and Miss Fleming took the Thayer’s private train carriage from Jersey City, NJ, back home to Haverford.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Jack Thayer took on banking. A few years later he was appointed Financial Vice-President and Treasurer of the University. He served as an artillery officer in the US Army during World War I. He married Lois Cassatt and they had two sons. Edward C. Thayer and John B. Thayer IV.

In 1940, conceivably, as an attempt to purge some of the memories that still haunted him, Jack Thayer produced a pamphlet relating his experiences with the Titanic’s sinking in vivid detail in a self-published pamphlet. Just 500 copies were printed exclusively for family and friends. Oceanographer Robert Ballard used the details of Jack Thayer to determine the location of the Titanic and proved that the ship had split in half as it sank, contrary to popular belief, as was finally confirmed when the wreck of the Titanic was discovered.

During World War II, both his sons enlisted in the armed services. In 1943, Edward Thayer was a bomber pilot in the Pacific theatre. After his plane was shot down, he was listed as missing and presumed dead. His body was never recovered.  When the news of Edward’s death reached him, Jack Thayer, became extremely depressed.

On the 32nd remembrance day of the RMS Titanic‘s collision with the iceberg, Jack Thayer’s mother Marian died. The loss of his mother depressed him further.

On September 20, 1945, Jack Thayer committed suicide by cutting his throat and wrists in an automobile at 48th Street and Parkside Avenue in West Philadelphia.

He is buried at the Church of the Redeemer Cemetery, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

In New York, Bruce Ismay was hosted by Philip Franklin, vice-president of the company. Ismay also received a summons to appear before a Senate committee headed by Republican Senator William Alden Smith the following day and a few weeks later he appeared before the British Board of Trade chaired by Lord Mersey.

Bruce Ismay testified that as the ship was in her final moments, he was working at an oar, his back to the ship so as to avoid watching his creation sink beneath the waters of the North Atlantic. During the United States Inquiry he assured that all the vessels of the International Mercantile Marine Company would be equipped with lifeboats in sufficient numbers for all passengers.

After the inquiry, Ismay and the surviving officers of the RMS Titanic returned to England aboard RMS Adriatic. Ismay’s reputation was irreparably damaged and he maintained a low public profile after the disaster. London society ostracized Ismay for life and labelled him one of the biggest cowards in history.

The American and the British press the American and the British press Bruce Ismay for deserting the ship while women and children were still on board. Some newspapers, even conjectured that Ismay jumped into the boat, despite there being women still near the lifeboat. Some papers called him the “Coward of the Titanic” and others named him as “J. Brute Ismay” and suggested that the White Star flag be changed to a yellow liver.

Ben Hecht, then a young journalist in Chicago, wrote a scathing poem titled “Master and Man” for the Chicago Journal contrasting the actions of Captain Edward Smith, the master of RMS Titanic who had just gone to an icy grave with his ship along with a majority of its passengers, and J. Bruce Ismay, chairman and managing director of the White Star Line of steamship safe on the rescue ship RMS Carpathia.

Master and Man
by Ben Hecht

The Captain stood where a
Captain should
For the Law of the Sea is grim;
The Owner romped while the ship was swamped
And no law bothered him.
The Captain stood where the Captain should
When a Captain’s ship goes down
But the Owner led when the women fled,
For an Owner must not drown.
The Captain sank as a man of Rank,
While his Owner turned away;
The Captain’s grave was his bridge and brave,
He earned his seaman’s pay.
To hold your place in the ghastly face of Death on the Sea at Night
Is a Seaman’s job, but to flee with the mob
Is an Owner’s Noble Right.

However, some newspapers claimed Ismay’s escape was justified since he was a passenger just like any other passenger on board the RMS Titanic. Some journalists maintained that Ismay bound by the dictum, “Women and children first” assisted many women and children himself. At the inquiry Bruce Ismay and first-class passenger William Carter said they boarded Collapsible C lifeboat only after there were no more women and children near that lifeboat.

On June 30, 1913, Ismay resigned as president of International Mercantile Marine and chairman of the White Star Line, to be succeeded by Harold Sanderson.

The Times Despatch - 2The above news “J. Bruce Ismay Tells in Whispers How He Escaped Death By Leaving Sinking Titanic in Lifeboat With Women” in The Times Dispatch reminds me of an apocryphal account of how Violet Jessop got into the lifeboat:

Violet watched patiently as the crew members loaded the passengers on to lifeboat Later, they called out “Are there any more women before this boat goes out?”

Bruce Ismay, who had already got into the boat loaded with women saw Violet and said: “Come along; jump in.

Violet replied: “I am only a stewardess.

Ismay said: “Never mind – you are a woman; take your place.

Just as the boat was being lowered, an officer of the Titanic gave her a baby to look after.

According to this unsubstantiated account Violet Jessop would have got into lifeboat C along with Bruce Ismay.

Violet Jessop, said later that while on board the RMS Carpathia, a woman without saying a word grabbed the baby Violet was holding and ran off with it; and many years after her retirement on a stormy night Violet received a telephone call from a woman who asked her if she saved a baby on the night the Titanic sank. When Violet replied “Yes,” the caller said, “I was that baby.”

When she told this to John Maxtone-Graham, her friend, and biographer, the latter said it would have been most likely some prankster. Violet replied, “No, John, I had never told that story to anyone before I told you now.”

The above account is a bit enigmatic. Some sources say that Violet Jessop escaped from the sinking Titanic on lifeboat 16. According to available records, the only baby in lifeboat 16 was 5-month-old Master Assad Alexander Thomas/Tannous who was handed over to 27-year-old Miss Edwina Celia Troutt. The infant was later reunited with his mother on the RMS Carpathia. Also, according to available records there were only two stewardesses on that lifeboat: 28-year-old Miss Evelyn Marsden and 41-year-old Mrs. Mary Kezia Roberts.

Many survivors lost all their possessions and became destitute. Many families, those of crew members from Southampton in particular, lost their principal breadwinners and were helped by charitable donations.

Empty holes where rivets gave way (Source: history.com)
Empty holes where rivets gave way (Source: history.com)

Videos taken at the wreck site of the Titanic by recent expeditions, show empty holes where the rivets gave way. Recent investigations by forensic experts reveal the rivets holding the steel plates are the real culprits leading to the Titanic catastrophe. Tests show flaws in the rivets used in the construction of Titanic. Inferior grade iron was used to manufacture the three million odd rivets that were used to hold the steel plates together.

After the demise of RMS Titanic, the SS Majestic was pressed back into service once again, filling the hole in the transatlantic schedule of White Star Line.

Even after the horrendous experience on RMS Titanic Violet Jessop continued to work as a stewardess on ocean-liners. Her next posting as a stewardess was on HMHS Britannica.

Titanic at 100
Click image to view video “Titanic At 100 Mystery Solved 720p HD (full movie)”

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 Previous: Part 4 – Sinking of the RMS Titanic

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