Posted by R. Berg on May 30, 2003
In Reply to: A 'orrible shower posted by Shae on May 30, 2003
: : : Can you perhaps enlighten me as to what a "'orrible shower" is. It is in the context of the military as in 'You lot are a 'orrible shower. Get around the parade ground in full kit double quick time.' I have never seen it in my nearly forty years of life and have encountered it twice in the last few weeks. Not even my two hefty volumes of the Shorter Oxford are of anyassistance. Perhaps the brothers Fowler objected massively to dropped aithces.
: : It was certainly used widely by the Drill Instructors, and
others, when I was doing my National Service in the 1950s. I think
it came from the concept that the new recruits were as fresh and
innocent as a recent shower (of rain). If they didn't quickly learn
to march properly, then they were the subject of such verbal abuse.
: : I also remember "Airman, did you shave this morning?". 'Yes, corporal". "well, stand closer to the razor next time!"
: : A particularly graphic phrase was: "Swing those arms, airman. If not, I'll pull them out at the socket and beat you over the head with the soggy ends!!"
: 'Shower' is used in Ireland to describe a group of people, usually in a derogatory fashion. 'Ye're a right shower of eejits (idiots)!' 'That shower? They're about as useful as a chocolate teapot!'
From Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British":
"'what a shower!' and 'it's showery!' The latter derived from the
former and was an RAF saying, current during the approx. period
mid 1930s to late 1940s.
But 'what a shower!' arose, c. 1919, in the army, as an insult hurled at the members of another unit; later --in the RAF too -- it would be directed at, e.g., an intake of recruits. . . . It has survived among civilians, and indeed I heard it used so late as 26 Feb. 1975.
The shower is popularly --and prob. correctly --explained as elliptical for 'a shower of sh*t'."