Fraser’s Phrases Is Having A Skive

Three people having a skive, in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Far be it from me to suggest that this is a hard job, on a par with manual labor, teaching children to read, or rocket surgery, but no matter what it is you do for a living (or just do as a matter of your daily routine), it’s perfectly normal to want a break from the norm, even if you don’t feel like you’ve earned it.

So, I’m writing this on a sharp, sunny winter’s day in Cornwall. There are no clouds in the sky, the ground is deliciously frozen underfoot but there is no snow. From my window I can see people walking their dogs, dressed up to the nines in bobble hats and scarves and mittens, and frankly, that’s where I want to be too.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, I’m off out. I fancy a bit of Ferris Bueller time. I am sacking off this column, and heading out into the sunshine. I’m skiving.

Skiving is essentially the same as playing hookey, except it’s conjugated differently. British people never play hookey. We play hockey, which is a real sport and far harder work than skiving.

If you wish to talk about skiving, you can either say the word unadorned, like this: “I fancy a skive, let’s not go to double chemistry this afternoon” Or, if you’re feeling racey, you can add off: “Tracy! Text Jordan, we’re skiving off work for a day at the precinct!”

Bananarama even titled their first album “Deep Sea Skiving,” which would work if you live in Florida, perhaps.

The origin of the word is a little hazy; it either comes from a Scandanavian word associated with the careful trimming of leather, or the French word esquiver, meaning to slink away. But frankly I can’t be bothered to investigate further, it’s simply too nice a day for it.

Er, what I mean is, I’m really ill (*cough*), and must away to my bed until tomorrow at the very earliest.

So, y’know…bye!

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2. He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage. Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
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