Daily Archives: February 12, 2008

What does it mean?

Yesterday I was better value than Royal Mail. You had two posts, but now how do I follow that?

Struggling to think of a topic for today my email pinged. A new comment was added to the post Poor Mary. Now thanks to Magpie 11, I have found my subject!

I have been trying to find the origins of a saying of my Grandmother’s…

Q, “What’s for lunch Grannie?”
Her answer Three Jumps at the cupboard door the only reference I could find was by Grannymar on another site which led me here.
Can you help?

‘Three jumps at the cupboard door’ was a phrase I learned from my late husband. He grew up in Co Durham in the 1920-30’s and his mother used it regularly when he asked “What is for lunch or tea”.
All young children ask at some time when feeling hungry “What’s for (insert meal)?” Mother’s or Grannies gave the quick answer ‘Three Jumps at the cupboard door’.

It means any of the following:
“Away out and play and let me get on, or there will be no dinner!”
“Stop annoying me or you will have to make it yourself!”
“You will have to jump up to the cupboard and see what you can reach!”

Magpie came back with another phrase in the same vein:

‘Dried Bread and Scratch it’

This was from the days of poverty when children were given dry bread, sometimes several days old. The ‘Scratch it’ meant scraping at the lump of bread with a finger to loosen the crumbs. On good days they had dripping (fat from cooking meat) to dip the bread in for flavour and to let it soften.

And my mother had her own version

Potatoes and point’

Humorous as it is, it scarcely falls short of the truth. Prior to famine times many an Irish family, hung up a herring, or “small taste” of bacon, to smoke or dry (cure) over the open fire. Using their imagination each individual points the potato he is going to eat, at it, thinking the flavour of the herring or bacon will transfer to the potato.

Daddy often said “You are the apple of my eye!”

This phrase comes from the Bible. In Psalm 17:8 the writer asks God ‘to keep me as the apple of your eye’.

Another of Daddies sayings was “A little bird told me”

This phrase comes from the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 10:20 the writer warns us not to curse the king or the rich even in private or a ‘bird of the air’ may report what you say.

A bakers dozen

This means thirteen. It is said to come from the days when bakers were severely punished for baking underweight loaves. Some added a loaf to a batch of a dozen to be above suspicion.

That’s a load of codswallop

In the 19th century wallop was slang for beer. A man named Codd began selling lemonade and it was called Codswallop. In time codswallop began to mean anything worthless or inferior and later anything untrue.

“Go to pot”

Any farm animal that had outlived its usefulness such as a hen that no longer laid eggs would literally go to pot. It was cooked and eaten.

“To start from scratch”

This phrase comes from the days when a line was scratched in the ground for a race. The racers would start from the scratch.

Now you start from scratch and share a well worn old family phrase.