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A very British pub

OK, so far we’ve been shilly-shallying around in the interesting but not-massively-useful end of British slang, concentrating on the kind of colorful terms which are still in general use, but won’t cause a major diplomatic incident, should you ever visit our wondrous shores.

Now we need to turn our attention to matters of social protocol, most particularly in the event that someone asks if you would like to accompany them to a nearby drinking establishment for a pint of something frothy.

Or to put it another way, it’s brewski o’clock!

Now, the first and most important thing to know is that there is a world of difference between the American and British uses of the word ‘brew.’ Should you find yourself in Northern England, faced with the friendly enquiry “fancy a brew?” the thing you are being offered is a cup of tea, NOT a beer. In fact, we would only ever use the term brewski, to denote a hot beverage used to warm yourself after a hard day on the slopes.

Here are a few of the things you could be asked, if someone wants to take you to a pub and drink alcohol with you:

“Fancy a jar?”

“Fancy a livener?” (first syllable pronounced ‘live’ as in ‘hive’)

“Fancy a swift half?”

“Fancy a bevvy?”

Now, as you and I both know, once bevvys have been sunk, there is a corresponding state of giddiness. This opens up a fresh world of slang fun, sure as Bob’s your uncle. Suddenly you are no longer drinking, you are drunk. And being drunk has a LOT of euphamisms. There’s your universal terms like wasted or hammered, and then your Brit-specific variations, like trollied, or bladdered, or mullered, or leathered, or plastered, or sloshed.

There are times when it seems like any adjective will do. You could say you were going out to get trousered, blended or deafened, and people would have an idea of what you meant (this does not apply to ‘knackered’ though).

Then there’s the word pissed. Over here it means drunk. Just drunk. Not angry drunk, or angry, or anything like that. Pissed OFF means angry, pissed is drunk. That’s another important distinction to draw, especially if you want to tell someone you’re getting pissed at them, meaning angry and not drunk.

Oh and there’s also rat-arsed, and arseholed, which essentially mean the same thing, but are far bawdier.

All of which grossery leads us to one final, unpleasant section. The aftermath of a night getting mangled, which can, in some cases, result in a prolongued bout of upswallowing, in some cases laying a pavement pizza, or talking to God on the great white telephone. It’s not nice, but you can’t blame the words for the act.

I have also heard this unsavoury moment described as parking the tiger, or speaking Welsh. But don’t use the latter phrase in Wales, they won’t thank you for it.

It’s my round. What are you having next?

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Filed Under: Fraser's Phrases
By Fraser McAlpine