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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Trump


No matter that he is going to be President of the United States. Across the North of England, including in our family, the word trump will remain an acceptable, almost polite substitute for the four letter word beginning with ‘f’ and ending with ‘t’ which to my mind is so coarse and common I cannot even bring myself to write it.

“Poo! Who’s trumped?” my mother would say on walking into the room where my brother and I were playing. We could say that too, but if either of us had used the f-synonym we would have had our faces slapped as hard as if we had used that other f-word – not that we had ever heard either in those innocent times. 

I was around eleven when I first heard the more common term for trumping. It came from an adult. We were on holiday near Southampton and had driven to London airport (not yet called Heathrow) to wave my aunt and cousins off to Aden. We waited inside a high glass-walled enclosure for their BOAC Britannia to take to the air, sheltered from the roar of the engines but not from the acrid smell of the fuel. It was close and stuffy, and the kerosene hung around us mixing with the pong from the clothes of a family friend (Uncle Jimmy) who had been sick on the train travelling down with my aunt. To make matters worse my brother periodically kept discharging his own contribution into the atmosphere. We used to eat meat in those days.

I was mortified when another aero-watcher, a middle aged man, turned and forcefully told me to stop farting. I had no idea what he meant. The embarrassment stemmed not from what I had been falsely accused of but from the fact that a complete stranger had spoken to me.

On another early nineteen-sixties holiday we drove to Slapton, Devon, in a hired Hillman Minx from Glews Garage. It was a long journey from Yorkshire in those pre-motorway days, and as dusk fell we were still miles from our lodgings. My brother and I lay on the back seat comatose with headaches, and trumping.

“Good God!” We knew we were in trouble because my mother rarely blasphemed, but the northern words that followed were entirely innocuous.

“It smells as if somebody’s babbaed themselves.”

“Can we have a drink of water?”

“No. You’ll be widdling all the way. You’ll have pickled yerselves before we get there.”

“I could do with a jimmy riddle,” said my dad from the driving seat.

Like most people from the South, my wife had never come across this usage of the word trump, but she soon picked it up, as of course have our children. It seems more humorous than offensive.

I am convinced it used to appear in a dictionary we had at Junior School. We used to look it up and giggle. “Trump”, it read, “a small explosion between the legs.” Perhaps I am mistaken because I cannot find it anywhere now. I am told, however, that the Oxford English has the definition: “to give forth a trumpet-like sound; spec. to break wind audibly (slang or vulgar).”

But as for “President Trump”, to me it sounds more of a command or insult than a title of high status. Will the policies that emerge during his term of office be known as Trumpism, or will they just be plain trumpery?

2 comments:

  1. Love this post. It's funny the words you grow up with, me being from the south heard the f-word all the time and thought nothing of it. I was surprised when I found out that others thought it was an actual rude word. Moving north, I found more people saying "trump" which to me sounds worse, like a noisy fanfare! I can only associate it with Nelly the Elephant. As for Trump....well, that's too depressing for words...

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    Replies
    1. It's all Nellie The Elephant's fault. If she had not gone around campaigning for him ("Trump, Trump, Trump") he might not have been elected.

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