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Re: Wake ye!

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on July 18, 2008 at 10:04

In Reply to: Wake ye! posted by Jon Scott Bradfield on July 18, 2008 at 08:52:

: My Father, an old sailor during WWII and the Korean Conflict told me an old rhyme as a child:

: "Wake ye! Wake ye! Rise and shine! Show a leg, show a leg, show a leg show! The cook to the galley has gone long ago! Get up, get up! The sun'll scorch your bleedin' eyes out!"

: I remember it to this day. To what British origin could this be attributed?

I've never heard this particular formulation, but all the elements in it are familiar bits of British slang, some of them specifically Royal Navy speak.
- It's normally spelt "Wakey, wakey" - a traditional British cry to encourage people to get up.
- "Rise and shine" - ditto. The analogy is with the sun; after the sun rises, it shines.
- "Show a leg" is Navy slang, explained here: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/shake-a-leg.html. (No, I don't believe the "explanation" about women's legs either.)
- This means "your breakfast is ready and waiting". The galley is the ship's kitchen. Oddly, in the Royal Navy "cooks" don't actually do any cooking; each "mess" of a dozen sailors has one man nominated as "cook", whose duty is to fetch his mess's meals from the galley when the bosun pipes "Cooks to the Galley".
- "The sun's scorching your eyeballs out" is a phrase used by Navy petty officers and Army sergeants alike when bawling men out of bed in the morning. It's deliberately ironic, as most of the year reveille takes place in the dark shivering pre-dawn.
For an authoritative description of Royal Navy getting-up routine, look here:
http://www.naval-history.net/WW2aaNavalLife-Customs2.htm
(VSD)