Dodgy Syrup…

This morning I decided to make flapjacks, so a quick recce through my kitchen cupboards showed I had plenty of oats, margarine, and sugar – so far, so good. But the strangely solidified contents of my jar of golden syrup, already two-thirds empty, were looking decidedly dodgy – all crystallised and crunchy rather than smooth and silky. Hmmm…

Luckily, a quick blast in the microwave fixed the dodgy syrup, rendering it runny once more, and the flapjacks are now baking happily in the oven. But the short diversion made me think about a ‘dodgy syrup’ of another kind – those dubious half-hairpieces worn by men of a certain age (in order to cover a bald spot) known as a toupee…

The old Cockney rhyming slang of ‘syrup of figs’ for ‘wig’ is now common parlance here in the UK, but as people tend not to take syrup of figs any more to ‘keep them regular’, and modern men tend to wear their male-patterned bladness with pride so that toupees are pretty much defunct these days, I can’t help wondering if sooner or later the original etymology may soon become lost in the mists of time, while the slang word continues in use, apparently with no rhyme nor reason.

For example, ‘you stupid berk’ was a mild-mannered pejorative term I grew up hearing people called by respectable adults when the person doing the name-calling did not want to use bad language in public. And yet in the same way as ‘syrup’ is used as a common contraction for ‘syrup of figs’,ย  berk’ is actually a contraction for ‘Berkshire Hunt’, making it rhyming slang for my least favourite swear word beginning with ‘c’ – but perhaps I’ll leave you to work that one out for yourselves!

Or ‘cor blimey’ comes to mind as another of those supposed mild, harmless pseudo-expletives used in the past to indicate surprise – but this now meaningless-sounding phrase originally started out as ‘God blind me’, which was considered blaspehemous by some, so perhaps not so mild after all? Anyway, in the meantime, all this tangental thought has passed the time quite nicely, and my flapjacks are now cooling, almost ready to eat – time for elevenses, methinks! ๐Ÿ™‚

4 thoughts on “Dodgy Syrup…

    • Ruth February 16, 2017 / 2:49 pm

      Hoping I’ve got that right… but if not, I’m sure Mrs Angloswiss will correct me – she’s an original Londoner, unlike me! ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. carolinecutting4 February 27, 2017 / 5:10 pm

    I was telling my hubby about this post, it’s brilliant. I’m glad I’m the only one who is fascinated with the quirks of the English language.

    Liked by 1 person

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