‘Have you ever thought that there are loads of funny ways of saying you’re off for a poo, but not many to say you’re off for a slash?’
My brother is a man with his mind firmly engaged upon the weightier issues in life. The musing above took place a couple of weeks ago in the George Shillibeer on North Road, an establishment formerly infamous for a tragic teenage stabbing, now reimagined into a pleasant food and craft beer sort of a pub, with regular entertainment and a fine quiz night on Thursdays where you get to draw naughty cartoons.
I suppose he is right. Aside from the quaint ‘spend a penny’ or ‘visit the cloakroom’ (I could never understand why my older relatives would withdraw in a dignified fashion to wee all over the coats), it is a bodily function slightly under-endowed with amusing expressions.
I sometimes wonder whether speakers of other languages are so fond of circumlocutions as the English. I struggle to think of any sexual or scatological act or artefact that does not have at least a couple of colloquialisms. These tend to fall into two categories – those devised for reasons of politeness and those invented for purposes of increased vulgarity. I’m (only slightly) ashamed to say that the latter often please me more, but there are odd exceptions.
I treasure a memory of my mother telling me a number of years ago, when my brother was in his first year of university at the time, that she’d been about to pop a pair of his jeans in the washing machine and had paused to empty the pockets.
‘And do you know what I found in his back pocket?’ She confided, her voice rising in pitch yet simultaneously decreasing in volume to a conspiratorial hiss. ‘A little something for the weekend!’
Nine syllables where three would do, but what a splendid saying. Apparently it comes from back in the day when barbers sold them. You’d go in on a Friday to get your ducktail cut and greased for a weekend of charming the lay-deez, and on your way out he would ask you, on the quiet like, if you wanted a little something for the weekend. Brilliant.
Anyway. In the pub the other week we drank two more pints, and filled up the back of a receipt with euphemisms. So if you happen to encounter my brother and he informs you cheerily that he is off to ‘jet-wash the porcelain’, ‘spritz the whisky’ or ‘roll the blue dice’, then you will know what he is talking about.