phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Oh Please - Agent Provocateur

Posted by Silver Surfer on January 15, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Oh Please - Agent Provocateur posted by TheFallen on January 14, 2003

: : : : : SWIRL BABY - Multiracial. "She's bummed because she isn't a 'swirl baby'- the term at school for being half white and half something else. It is the 'in' thing here - not boring all white!" From an online discussion group, accessed Jan. 13, 2003.

: : : : : I'm guessing it refers to the ice cream swirl of vanilla and chocolate.

: : : : This has all the hallmarks of a phrase that will, in the near future, be roundly condemned by the great and the good and certainly mark any user as a racist of the worst kind. I speak from experience since I find it unwise to openly discuss the activities of my childhood as a wartime evacuee when I roamed the hills and byways with 'nigger', my beautiful black curly haired spaniel, without substituting with the name Rex - they might have waited until I was dead before outlawing that word.

: : : You'd have to be roughly 175 years old to have that make sense.

: : Plainly you didn't major in maths or history given that I was sent to the country in 1941, the war in question was WWII, the country being bomber was the UK, the nice people doing the bombing were the Germans and the city I was evacuated from was London. I can perhaps forgive you if you are an American since I have, over a lifetime, discovered that events happening outside the continental US normally remain a mystery to approximately 80% of Americans: never did figure out why.

: Now, colour me wary, but I view the claimed name of the adorable black spaniel (and indeed potentially its whole existence) with some confusion. The issue of unwittingly racist names for dogs in England during World War 2 has been covered before, and indeed was originally raised by Mr. Silver Surfer, but solely with reference to Wing Commander Guy Gibson's black labrador, as sometimes featured in the film "The Dambusters" - archived link below. I wonder why at that time the name of Mr. Surfer's own cuddly pet was not also brought by its owner into the discussion? More tellingly, I further wonder why, when asked by a correspondent as to whether he'd call any dog he owned "Nigger", Mr. Surfer then gave the following response:-

: Q: "Would you name your dog Nigger and why or why not?"
: A: I don't have a dog but if I had I might call him nigger, why not? I might also call him Rover, or Clinton, or Blair or even Margaret - if he was gay. After all it's a dog we're talking about here.

: Perhaps we have a case of temporary amnesia here from our near 70-year old fan of Stan Lee comic book characters - after all, his evacuation was a long long time ago, and he's apparently no spring chicken. Probably very easy for him to forget at one point that he had a dog with such a name.

Hey, I've read what I said on that link and it was a telling exchange, did you like it? I've not had a dog since I returned to London in 1945 and 'nigger' wasn't really my dog; he belonged to the people I was lodged with but I spent loads of time with him and always think of him as mine albeit when I returned to my parents home the dog stayed with his real owners. I realise that America had a terrible time with slavery and the bigotry and discrimination outlived even the oldest survivors of the civil war, which they thought had settled the matter - it was well into the 1960s before different races could attend the same schools and drink in the same bars. Oh, and by the way, if you want to have a go at me make it a worthy effort and not the cheap schoolboy jibes about age etc. I may be getting on a bit, but I suspect my mind is 'as sharp as a knife' and 'as fit as a butchers dog' - where did those phrase originate I wonder?