The floozie in the jacuzzi
The floozie (or floosie or floozy) in the jacuzzi is the nickname of the bronze statue, properly called Anna Livia, previously in O'Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland. It personifies the River Liffey, which passes nearby.
Birmingham, UK, has a similar statue and has adopted the same nickname for it.
The use of scurrilous nicknames for their public monuments says much about the character of Dubliners, two facets of which are a readiness to deflate pomposity and a love of language. The second of these could be described as a playful seriousness with words and is surely commendable.
One of the many amusing nicknames for public edifaces in Dublin.
The 'floozie', also called 'the hoor in the sewer' (hoor, pronounced who-er, is the local version of whore) was removed in 2001 to make way for an impressively tall column that the city fathers like to call The Spire of Dublin. The local wags competed to rename this even before it was completed as 'the stiletto in the ghetto', 'the erection at the intersection', the 'stiffy by the Liffey', 'the North Pole', 'the nail in the Pale' and so on.
There are many other statues and monuments in Dublin that have been renamed by the public. In fact this is such a well-established game in the many bars of the city that it's hard to imagine any new edifice not being given its own rhyme. Some of the more notable are:
- The 'tart with the cart', or 'the dish with the fish' - the statue of Molly Malone, the fictional character of the eponymous song, shown wheeling her wheelbarrow of fish.
- The 'quare in the square' - the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Park Square (quare is a local pronunciation of queer).
- The 'prick with a stick' - James Joyce carrying a walking cane.
- The 'hags with the bags' - the statue of two women with shopping bags near the Halfpenny Bridge.
- The 'time in the slime' - the ill-fated underwater clock (yes, really) in the River Liffey.
It isn't only the general public of Dublin who enjoy wordplay. The city has been associated with a huge number of major figures in the world of literature, several of them Nobel laureates, including Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce , Flann O’Brien, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats. Many of these have a humorous and irreverent style and a wilful disregard for grammatical convention enough to make Lynne Truss weak at the knees. Here's an example from Brendan Behan (the self-confessed "drinker with writing problems") who, when asked to define the difference between prose and poetry, is reported as saying:
"There was a young fellah named Rollocks
Who worked for Ferrier Pollocks.
As he walked on the Strand
With his girl by the hand
The tide came up to his knees.
Now that’s prose. If the tide had been in, it would have been poetry."
That incident is part of Irish literary folklore and if you take one of Dublin's enjoyable literary pub-crawls you are sure to hear it repeated. There's precious little evidence to prove that Behan ever said it though and it doesn't appear anywhere in his published work or autobiography - so perhaps best taken with a pinch of salt (or maybe a Guinness or two). The point though is that it is the kind of thing that Behan might well have said and fits exactly into the local literary and social style.