80 Comments

  1. Wow. What an interesting debate. I never would have thought these expressions would stir such passions!

    To Andrea, I’m not sure the examples you’re giving really prove your point. Your British friend suggests, context aside, it’s often used to calm down a mouthy drunk rather than to incite further aggravation. He/she also says they remember it from the playground, i.e. a phrase that children use.

    Your Australian friend says it’s a ‘couple of notches down from…’, implying its euphemistic nature. They also say it’s ‘pretty aggressive’ opposed to ‘aggressive’, and continue with it’s ‘certainly not assertive’.

    The video you shared is kind of the same. The humour lies in posh people using ‘common’ expressions. But if you were to substitute ‘a butt round the ear’ole’ with ‘a punch in the face’, or ‘shut his cake’ole’ with ‘shut his mouth’, it would be far less light in tone and people would be uneasy about laughing at this serious turn of events.

    Returning to anecdotal evidence, I work in an international British school, and yesterday I cornered two Brits and an Aussie and posed this question: “Which would be more aggressive to you, ‘Shut your mouth’ or ‘Shut your cake-hole’?” They just started giggling.

    It could have been the absurdity of the question that led to this, but there was certainly no gasping or clutching of pearls at the abrasive language I had used. They did agree in the end that the latter is a euphemism of the former.

    In any case, there seems to be no right answer to this. If you find these expressions offensive or not, then it’s becoming clear it’s a matter of the context of their use or your own biases. I think we’ll all have to just agree to disagree.

    In fact, I’ve spent far too much time on this. I’m going to get some pie.

  2. You’ve never watched it? Believe me, as non-PC as it is (for our time), it’s quite funny, as are As Time Goes By, Last of the Summer Wine, Keeping Up Appearances, Vicar of Dibly, etc. I much prefer them to American ‘comedies’, just as I prefer British detective/mystery shows to American ‘crime shows’, altho the one with Vincent D’Onofrio was ok.

  3. Andréa, I must have expressed myself badly, I have watched almost all of Are You Being Helped, and agree it is so often hilarious that I can’t be bothered toting up how much of the portrayed attitudes are off base by 21st century “enlightened” standards.

  4. ‘Served’. Interestingly, in the interview video with the writers of this and other BritComs, one of the BBC folks states that he ended AYBS because it WAS so non-PC. I always assumed that’s why people liked it . . . same reason so many folks like Mel Brooks’ movies.

  5. Andrea. I liked your comic! However, not to keep harping on about it, but it certainly brings ‘pie-hole’ into a new context. Now I’m disgusted, that’s for sure!

  6. There really is a disease named pyorrhea. Ask your dentist about it. And the cookie makers are at risk for it. Is the last panel just misspelled?

  7. “pyorrhea” — “Is the last panel just misspelled?”

    Andréa says no, and it does seem that “piearrhea” is wanting to convey “pie-induced diarrhea”.

  8. Mitch4 (“Are You Being Helped”): Did you mean “Are You Being Served”? Or is this a different show? I (too?) watched all of AYBS but I’m a bit amazed to see that it was 1972 to 1985 — rather older than I would have guessed. And what was the name of the one (from about the same time) with the young Irish priest? I loved that one, too.

  9. I watched much of Ballykissangel at one point. And the specials, about the town where they shot it becoming a tourist attraction, and all that.

    MANY years later I watched a really good police drama, “DCI Banks”. It was high quality from the start, but the writing and acting kept improving thru all six series. (It was also nice that it was not yet complete when I started watching, so I could join in the fun of waiting for the next series each time, and reading all the publicity releases etc.)

    After it was done, and I was still consuming secondary sources, I saw a description of lead actor Stephen Tompkinson’s career, and Ballykissangel was mentioned as his major work before this. I thought, was he one of the villagers? Then I saw it said he was a priest, and I thought, oh from a neighboring parish? Or the second one, that they brought in at the last season after losing the first one? No, it said he was the first one. I had to go back and watch the premier episode to convince myself. I remembered some of the plot for the whole series, but not what the lead guy looked like!

  10. I have to admit I know about them, but never watched either.
    There is an excellent YT video discussing/interviewing the writers of various BritComs.

  11. Folks, I think the good people of Ireland would have big problem calling Father Ted is a “BritCom”… The show is very Irish, especially the topic matter of deconstructing the Church and its hold over Ireland. The fact that due to a history of British oppression they have to go to Britain for funding and production because that’s where the money is is just added insult.

  12. I don’t recall seeing Father Ted. I did see many of the first season of “Bally K”. Ones that I am following currently are “Father Brown Mysteries” and “Death in Paradise”. The latter is set on a Caribbean island that was French but is now under British control, so the local police chief is a DI from the UK.

  13. This’d be cause for divorce [if married] or break up [if not] . . . no one could convince me THIS isn’t extremely rude, if not downright nasty . . .

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