Monday, 6 March 2017

Ye olde rumpy-pumpy...

I love words. I love the way words are put together as language. Words are our history and when Big Brother – the PC set – remove words from the dictionary or make them unacceptable I feel they are removing some of our heritage. Words need to be taken in the context of the time that they were used and also how they were used.

So let’s talk about shagging, the old in-out as it is called in A Clockwork Orange. Shagging or fucking, bonking, screwing, rogering, as it’s sometimes called, has a wonderful history in our language. So let’s not hide from our wonderful wordy heritage and instead celebrate these words and not ignore them. Of course, like all words, they need to be taken in context and referenced to the time they were used. But looking at the language of coitus, sexual intercourse or lovemaking, as some call it, it seems that many of the origins of a lot of these terms are lost in the history of their own time; as I'm sure that many of our own 'distasteful' words will be in a few hundred years from now.

Over the last 600 years rumpy-pumpy has been called many things. Some of them funny, some of them naughty and some just plain unfathomable in their obscurity. All language has its place and I find it hard to see any of it as ‘foul language’; although who knows how risqué it was at the time and to the people of that time?

Back in the mid-1300’s (if you were lucky) you might have ‘given someone a green gown’, what a lovely thought. Later in 1500 you might have tried some ‘nug-a-nug’ or had fun playing ‘the pyrdewy’ or ‘couch quail’ and by the end of the 1500’s you may have even been ‘riding below the crupper’ - I particularly like the earthiness of that one.

In the early 1600’s you could ‘board a land carrack’, have taken part in a little ‘fadoodling’, ‘put the devil into hell’, had a bit of ‘primcum-prancum’ (I wonder if that’s where hanky-panky came from), played a little ‘night physic’, taken part in a ‘culbaltizing exercise’, ‘joined paunches’, ‘danced the Paphian jig’, had a round of ‘tray trip of a die’, ‘danced with Barnaby’ or even been ‘shot twixt wind and water’ - which conjures up just a few distressing images for me.

By the mid 1600’s you would be enjoying some ‘rantum-scantum’, ‘blowing off the groundsills,’ playing ‘hey gammer cook’, ‘joining giblets’ (which doesn’t sound like much fun at all), having a round of ‘rumpscuttle and clapperdepoch’, ‘lerricompooping’, and interestingly ‘riding a dragon upon St George’.

By 1700 you would be having a ‘houghmagandy’ or might even ‘pogue the hone’. You could even, rather picturesquely, ‘make feet for children’s stockings’ whilst ‘dancing the kipples’.

In the 1800’s you could ‘have one’s corn ground’ or take ‘horizontal refreshment’ and, according to the very poetic Victorians of 1886, ‘arrive at the end of a sentimental journey’.

By 1910 this sentimental journey had become a little more raunchy as one was ‘getting one’s ashes hauled’, and after that most of the phrases we still use today began to be used to describe ‘placing Percy in the pasture’.

Wonderful, descriptive, magical and whimsical language. How I love it and I wonder what those people of long ago would make of us today with our fear of ‘getting caught’ using incorrect or outlawed words that they commonly used. I wonder if they would be shocked by the way we rewrite classic literature to make it more acceptable, frown when honest opinions are spoken in honest language, can’t use some words that aren’t offensive at all like black, or dark, Paddy, queer, or chink or any word that might be seen as describing any racial, sexual or religious grouping. What are the words that will be crossed off the list of ‘acceptable’ language next and will we still have this wealth of wonderful language in the future?

Well, it’s no use asking me because in this rantum-scantum world I don’t give a flying fadoodle.

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